Running a team of more than 4,900 financial advisors serving 1.8 million accounts in more than 2,200 locations worldwide is no easy task. For Raymond James Financial - a Florida-based financial services company - managing their employees’ expenses is among the most challenging aspects of their business.
The company’s previous expense management system took a long time to implement and required lots of time and effort to run. It was also error-prone, causing severe friction among departments.
A case study of modern expense management software
The problem: outdated expense management system
After a thorough examination of its expense reporting process, Raymond James noticed 5 main problem areas that needed immediate attention:
- Inconsistent corporate T&E policies
- Complex approval processes
- Hotel contracts were negotiated by the property instead of the chain
- Both travellers and managers were unaware of the limits
- Document tracking and management were done manually
Raymond James realised that the cause of the problem lied in the outdated expense management system that the company was using. The old way of documents processing induced misunderstandings and inconsistent compliance among departments along with lengthy reimbursement cycles, which led to an increase in operations and administration costs.
Elizabeth Eriksen, assistant vice president, Accounting, summarises the problems with a statement: "We learned that lack of compliance with T&E policies and error-prone manual processes account for a large amount of corporate spending, and automation was the first important step in order to save costs."
Read more: Expense management or effective cutting?
The solution: automate the reporting process
After extensive research of different applications on the market, Raymond James chose Infor Expense Management to transform its entire expense management procedure.
Infor Expense Management's Travel Plans and Expense Reports were the chosen two modules (out of four) to be implemented. Shortly after deployment, the company noticed a significant improvement in areas that required immediate attention.
- The Travel Plans module: helps the company to pinpoint trends, better negotiate with vendors, and streamline the trip planning procedure with a few simple clicks.
- The Expense Reports module: eliminates potential data-entry errors by automatically populate information (such as corporate card details), or users can choose between options with dropdown menus.
Information accuracy is the most prominent progression since the implementation of the new expense management solution. Built-in alerts and triggers instantly notify employees of violations prior to submitting their requests or plans. Workflows are easily created for review and approval.
With Business Intelligence tools, Infor Expense Management allows users to identify opportunities to save costs as well as visualise the entire expense management process, thus, transforming it from a manual, cumbersome procedure to a more streamlined and accurate one.
The result: cut reporting cycle in half
The major benefit that Infor Expense Management brings to Raymond James is the ability to obtain relevant, accurate information in real-time ensuring more informed business decisions. Furthermore, the new system offers on-demand access anytime, anywhere.
Plus, it supports multiple currencies and languages with the capability to create rules and policies for a specific business division and/ or a specific location.
Any report after submission will trigger alerts to notify managers in charge. Managers can conveniently approve their employees’ requests and plan directly in emails without opening up the application.
Raymond James noticed a 50 per cent reduction in reporting and reimbursement time. Reimbursement is resolved via Accounts Payable. The results are then fed back to Expense Reports to avoid duplication of information.
Integration with other systems
Erikson acknowledges the smooth integration between Infor's applications and the company's current financial systems, providing one source of the truth to all employees, managers, and the accounts payable department.
"... Feeding from HR and to and from the accounts payable system and GL as well as proprietary systems, so no further data is required once the report is approved,'' Eriksen adds.
Infor Expense Management improves compliance enforcement across the organisation, which can also benefit the internal compliance department, members of the audit committee or to external auditors and regulatory bodies.
Due to the remarkable capability, Raymond James' internal compliance members have requested the system to be installed for vendor disbursement requests.
The new system aids Raymond James in enforcing travel policies and the proper use of corporate credit cards across divisions within the organisation. At the same time, the company also applies a new approach to monitoring financial risk and fraud according to the Financial Accounting Standards Board and Sarbanes-Oxley regulations.
Paper receipts are easily mixed up, lost, and can cause data-entry errors. Raymond James utilises ImageTag (an Infor partner product) to resolve this issue.
ImageTag allows filling digital receipt through faxed receipts. The application saved the company substantial time and effort in checking and matching paper receipts with reports in addition to reducing costs spent on storing, filing, printing, and mailing receipts. As a result, the time needed for approvals significantly decreases.
After the successful implementation of Infor Expense Management, Eriksen declares: "Infor Expense Management helped us cut an amazingly large portion of our corporate spending on travel. We firmly believe Infor has the stability and long-term solutions to support our goals now and in the years to come."
Infor Expense Management can help your organisation too. Request a free consultation today and find out how!