Emburse or Concur? 6 Key Questions to Help You Confidently Decide

Guy Larcom III
Guy Larcom III
Chrome River or Concur – How to Decide Which Works Best for You

Many organizations encounter this challenge whether they’re implementing spend management for the first time or thinking about a change from Concur.

If you’re considering a new expense management process at your organization, you’ve probably followed a similar path. Employees at your organization, whether the ones submitting expenses or the finance and accounting professionals managing it all, have expressed that current processes are creating a bottleneck and preventing them from doing more strategic work. Maybe you’re the one experiencing this.

Companies that use manual processes like spreadsheets and emails to track employee spending and do reimbursements often run into this. Even organizations that have implemented legacy solutions like Concur face challenges with rigid processes, out of date tools, and insufficient control over their configuration. In either case, a similar crossroads emerges: deciding between the status quo or adopting a new solution.

Of course, evaluating your options can be a challenge. Similarities in features and functionality, not to mention different names for like functionality, can make it hard to determine which offering is be the best choice.

You know you need a tool that’s easy for employees to use, available on their mobile device, and automates receipt capture with machine learning to eliminate data entry. Configurable policy and workflow rules are critical to gaining control and visibility over employee spending. And, if you have managed travel, then you need a platform that provides options and support for your corporate travel program. A step further may include exploring your opportunities for automated re-shopping of hotel and air for immediate savings.

Once you’ve confirmed that the solutions you’re considering support the essentials, how do you determine which one will truly go above and beyond from a product and service perspective?

Many organizations encounter this challenge whether they’re implementing spend management for the first time or thinking about a change from Concur. At this point, the question becomes less about features and more about who will be the best partner and deliver the greatest long term value to the organization.

To help you decide, here are six questions that can elevate the conversation and help your organization confidently decide.

1. How will the solution adapt to the changing needs of my organization?

Your organization is growing and changing every day. New technologies bring new opportunities. New regulations or standards bring new reporting and compliance requirements. And growth brings new organizational structures, with greater need for automated control, policy enforcement, and visibility

No matter the driving force, it’s critical that your business systems can evolve with your organization. With consistent investment in innovation and business transformation, Emburse helps you attain the control and visibility you need over organizational spend.

You need a solution that allows for granular configuration based on report, transaction, line item, and user data, along with scalable functionality like virtual card issuance and user friendly reporting and analytics. Legacy solutions like Concur can become bloated, fall behind, and may lack the critical functionality you need.

One former customer of Concur, BELFOR Property Restoration, noted “We have a lot of unique business requirements, and Concur was not flexible or willing to customize the system the way we wanted.” This forced their finance team to create workarounds and sometimes delayed expense reimbursements up to three weeks.

Emburse’s focus on innovation and providing modern, scalable solutions ensures that your system keeps pace with your business and your industry, whether that means global expansion, new regulations, or simply finding and implementing new, more efficient processes.

2. What is the implementation, onboard, and deployment experience like?

Whether you’re moving off a legacy system like Concur or implementing a solution for the first time, one of the most important things to consider is the process from contract signing through deployment and onboarding.

You’re making an investment to drive efficiency. The ultimate success of that investment is dependent on the delivery of a system that meets your needs and that users understand, appreciate, and quickly adopt.

Now, not every company or organization requires the same level of configuration or customization to achieve this.

If you’re moving off of a current solution, then you’ll want a partner like Emburse, with deep experience and expertise in expense management.

Emburse’s implementation managers are experts in both expense management and common systems like Concur. They have deep understanding and empathy for the challenges organizations like yours may face and can provide proven best practice guidance to help you achieve your goals. Ultimately, this gives you a head start and accelerates the implementation project, especially if you’re moving from Concur.

If you’re implementing a solution for the first time, then you may have some important questions to answer or decisions to make, in which case a software provider with guided, best practice processes can be a huge help.

In either case, a few questions to consider include:

  • What is my timeline for implementing and rolling out a solution?
  • What level of consultation do I need for allocation design, master data integration, and system configuration?
  • How many countries will my solution cover?
  • What kind of user assistance is available within and outside of the software?
  • After the initial deployment, will additional support be helpful or needed?

By answering these questions, or working with a provider like Emburse to do so, you can develop an understanding of the needs of your company and the right level of implementation and onboarding service.

Emburse offers a number of strategically aligned implementation options that address the needs of different organizations. This allows you to make a highly informed decision that weighs organizational desires with costs, timelines, and other key success factors.

3. Does the licensing model support my business cycle and processes?

Not all pricing models are created equal. You may have cyclical spending or specific processes that require flexible models to ensure you’re not overpaying.

Consider that employees are submitting transactions and expense reports. This is one metric that can be used to license a spend management solution - by the number of reports submitted.

Another option is a user-based model. In this case, you determine the number of employees that will need to submit expenses, or have them submitted on their behalf, and that becomes the licensing metric.

Each of these models has its benefits, the key is determining which is best for your organization. A provider that offers flexibility to choose can be immensely beneficial.

With a report based model, you do not need to worry about who is submitting. This works well when you have many different employees that need to submit, and you are comfortable keeping tabs on usage. At the same time, each report draws from your bank of reports and some guidance may be required around when to submit and what to include in reports.

User based models are convenient because you don’t have to worry about the number of reports submitted. One for each trip? Fine. Splitting a trip’s expenses across a couple of reports? No problem. Of course, you’ll want to be sure that the number of users you’re paying for is accurately set to your monthly user count.

There isn’t one right answer to this question, but having options can be extremely helpful. One approach is to start with a report based model and then transition to a user based one when you have a handle on the number of users needed. Emburse offers you this flexibility and will help you determine the ideal model for your organization.

4. What kind of relationship do I want with my solution provider?

We talked about onboarding and implementation, but there is also the ongoing support and evolution of your system and processes to take into account. Your organization needs two things to ensure long term success:

  1. The ability to make necessary changes on your own
  2. Support or consultation when it is needed on best practices and larger changes

Many Concur customers have come to Emburse after experiencing frustration over a lack of one or both of these elements. Either they cannot make simple changes they need, or they are stuck waiting for long periods of time for support and consultation.

Emburse is deeply invested in the success of our customers. Sandra Schubert, a member of the Travel Management Team at Robert Bosch said, “The collaboration with Emburse has enabled us to significantly drive forward the digitalization of the business travel process at Bosch. We particularly appreciate the fact that Emburse is close to the customer, knows their concerns and needs, and responds to them in an agile manner with a high level of customer orientation and a strong UX focus.”

We know that spend management is an organic process, and driving efficiency takes optimization. That’s why we offer best-in-class support, on-demand learning like the Emburse Academy, and additional services to help you get the maximum value from your investment.

5. How will I put my spending data to work with reporting and analytics?

A sometimes overlooked, but absolutely critical, benefit of spend management software is that by digitizing processes, you now are collecting data about organizational spending. This data, used strategically, can extend the value of your investment far beyond alleviating bottlenecks, tedious processes, and heavy workloads in your finance and accounting office.

Emburse’s analytics platform lets you answer key questions about your spend with KPI-first dashboards, making it easy to identify spend patterns and drill down to critical detail. Going a step further, team and department spending data can be scheduled and shared in context-rich dashboards.

With these insights and data, you can drive both better short term cash management and find areas of opportunity for business growth.

Empower key individuals across the organization to manage their respective budgets, spot abnormalities, and conduct trend analysis with recurring vendors.

Analytics can also be used to discover and clarify opportunities to grow your business. Just a few of the benefits of Emburs Analytics include:

  • Dashboard reporting to improve decision-making, spot trends, and uncover gaps
  • Drill-down flexibility to get the details and specific insights quickly
  • Share dashboards and reports via PDF
  • Apply analytics to improve cash preservation
  • Use spending data to negotiate discounts with preferred vendors

Most importantly, doing this doesn’t require hours of training or learning to write queries and compile the data you need. Everything is accessible in a platform made for business users.

6. What information and data security standards do I need software providers to be in compliance with?

There’s no gray area when it comes to ensuring that sensitive company and personal information is secure. That’s why we prioritize meeting the highest standards of information and data security.

Our products and systems go through regular verification processes by external auditors to ensure that no significant changes have occurred that would alter our status with regard to critical security and compliance standards.

It is often good practice, if not required for organizations in some industries, that all vendors are in compliance with key security standards. For organizations that require proof for their own auditors, we provide these security reports and assessments to customers and prospects.

Make the process your own, we’re ready to help

Beyond these questions, there are of course critical elements you will need to confirm as you make your decision. We invite you to explore all of your questions with us, and we are happy to provide the knowledge, expertise, and experience of our organization to help you determine the right choice for yours.

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