Automating Finance Part 4: Making The Business Case For Expense Management Automation

November 2, 2021

9 min read

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In the first three posts in this series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), we went over how Finance and AP teams can leverage expense management automation to clean up their data, reduce risks and waste, and free up valuable time so team members can focus on high-impact endeavors, like performing insightful data analysis that leads to confident, data-driven business decisions.

According to Forrester, which surveyed 311 global finance leaders involved in expense management decisions at their organization, only a quarter of finance teams are using automated solutions for expense management. This makes it difficult for finance teams to gather reliable expense data, manage budgeting and spending, drive costs savings, and improve compliance. Nobody wins.

Finance leaders and team members are frustrated by error-prone, tedious, and time-intensive manual processes. They want a simple, easy-to-use, and rapid solution that streamlines expense management while integrating into their organization’s enterprise financial system.

Getting buy-in for an expense automation upgrade

Of course, upgrading an outdated expense management solution that has been embedded into your organization is easier said than done. Getting buy-in from decision-makers can be difficult unless you give them convincing reasons to make the switch.

According to Forrester, up to 70% of finance leaders cite a lack of budget as the biggest obstacle in the way of upgrading their expense management system. Finance teams looking to secure executive support have to make the business casethat the cost and time savings of a better expense management solution outweigh the upfront investment.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of compelling proof that modern, cloud-based expense management solutions not only make sense in the long run—leading to substantial cost savings and reduced risk while returning invaluable time to finance teams—but they can also produce ROI within 3–6 months for organizations committed to overhauling their financial processes.

Enterprise expense management automation case studies

TechValidate, a third-party research service, recently conducted a broad survey of Emburse customers. They found that finance and AP teams save up to 40 hours per month on expense management workflows and enjoy a return on investment within 6–12 months at most:

What types of ROI did Emburse customers see after making the switch? Let’s find out.

1. Belfor is now 300% more cost-efficient and 67% faster

Belfor USA Group, Inc. is a property restoration and disaster recovery leader with over 4,500 employees across 200 locations in North America. They had been using SAP Concur, an expense management solution built in the 1990s, to handle all of their expenses. But Concur wasn’t delivering the results they expected anymore.

Expense management challenges:

  • Concur’s platform is inflexible, unable to address Belfor’s wide range of needs.
  • Poor user navigation contributed to frustrating employee experiences.
  • There was a lack of satisfactory customer support.

Dawn Conway, a Senior Business Analyst at Belfor, recalled their finance team’s struggles with Concur: “We have a lot of unique business requirements, and Concur was not flexible or willing to customize the system the way we wanted. We felt like a small fish in a big pond and we were not receiving the type of support we needed.”

After deciding to switch to Emburse, Belfor saw incredible ROI:

  • 12,000+ expense reports processed annually
  • 300% more cost-efficient than Concur
  • 67% faster reimbursements
  • 67% reduction in expense management resources and spend

Long story short, “Emburse Chrome River is 3x more cost-effective than Concur, and we’ve reduced monthly transactional spend by about 70% since switching,” said Conway.

2. Elsevier now processes 45,000 expense reports globally

Elsevier was founded in 1880 and has become a global leader in publishing and information solutions. The media giant employs 8,600 people across 60+ offices worldwide. Elsevier had been relying on Oracle iExpense, but they weren’t too happy with their experience.

Expense management challenges:

  • iExpense was unable to support country-specific tax systems or multiple currencies.
  • Finance relied on country-specific workarounds, leading to exhausting processes.
  • An inflexible system required line item audits but did not permit single line returns.
  • A confusing interface and no mobile app didn’t help, limiting on-the-go usability.

After switching over to Emburse, Elsevier finally got the flexibility and accessibility they so desperately needed:

  • Reduced expense categories by 75%, consolidating all reports
  • Achieved centralized global processing of 45,000 expense reports
  • User-friendly mobile app empowered remote workers, saving tons of time
  • Built-in, configurable compliance rules engine streamlined audit process

Simply put, “Emburse Chrome River was the best and most flexible solution to address our complex, global requirements and help us more effectively manage a large volume of expense reports,” said Maria Garcia, Travel & Expenses Manager at Elsevier.

3. Allianz decreased expense report processing times by 90%

Allianz Partners is a global consumer specialty insurance leader in travel, tuition, and assistance services. Allianz has over 150,000 employees worldwide serving 40 million customers annually. But despite the size of their organization, they were relying on a paper-based expense management system.

Expense management challenges:

  • They relied on a paper-based, Excel-dependent expense reporting system.
  • The AP team had to deal with countless pages of attached paper receipts.
  • Each expense report had to be manually validated and keyed back in by an AP clerk. (This required a full workday each week.)
  • The finance team was reviewing reports manually to ensure compliance.

Obviously, Allianz needed an expense management upgrade. After switching to Emburse, they saw incredible time savings and enjoyed numerous operational efficiencies:

  • Decreased expense report processing by 90%
  • Gained fully mobile solution for travelers and approvers
  • Automatically enforced policy and improved visibility into compliance
  • Reduced expense report errors and the risk of duplicate payments

4. Vornado reduced data entry and scanning costs by 75%

Vornado Realty Trust is a leading real estate investment trust (REIT) with $34.8 billion in assets under management and a market capitalization of $19.7 billion. Nearly 3,000 employees manage millions of square feet of commercial and retail properties worldwide. For a decade, Vornado had enjoyed paperless accounting—with the exception of expenses.

Expense management challenges:

  • Expense management was still manual and paper-based.
  • Employees logged into company intranet, downloaded expenses, filled out line items, printed expense forms, attached receipts, and manually submitted them for approval.
  • Once an expense was approved, the AP team would double-check every line item.
  • 5 days later, a check would be cut, but an auditor would have to approve it.

After implementing Emburse, Vornado experienced the power of the Business Rules Engine and its custom configurations:

  • Replaced manual expense reports with automated workflows with built-in rules
  • Ensured organization-wide compliance and spend visibility
  • Reduced costs by 75% by cutting down on data entry and scanning

Is it time to upgrade your expense management solution?

These aren’t the only enterprise companies that have happily made the switch. Emburse is a global leader in expense management and AP automation solutions. We’ve helped over 14,000 companies streamline financial decision-making across 120 countries.

With flexible integrations and customizations, a high degree of visibility in an easy-to-use dashboard, automated compliance checks, and multi-device accessibility, there isn’t a whole lot to lose—but there sure is a lot to gain.

If you’re deciding whether it’s the right time to make the switch, we’re happy to help:

Choose Easier Expense Management