What to expect when you roll out SAP Concur


In the world of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), flexibility, adaptability and scalability are some of the most important business qualities needed to compete successfully and ensure long-term success. Countless studies show that embracing new cloud technologies is even more important to SMBs, given that traditional software and heavy on-premise implementations are costly and hefty for a small, agile business.


Having taken hundreds of SMB customers through Concur implementations in my career, here’s what I learnt from them; their stories, their successful deployment processes and above all, how they tackled change in their organisations.


Resisting change

One of the biggest hurdles in automating finance processes can be change management. Employees get comfortable and used to a process, even if it’s manual (Excel or paper-based), and they simply find it hard and painful to change their habits. Yet, now more than ever before, it’s important that we stay up-to-date with the world and embrace advancements in technology. Success often comes down to who can do things more efficiently, faster and more effectively while controlling the cost.

Once a business makes the decision to automate a process, they are then faced with the inevitable challenges of deployment and change management.


The two ways to roll out Concur

Our customers typically roll out Concur in two ways:

  • A pilot-type roll out gradually expanded to all employees, business units and locations.
  • A roll out in one go, typically endorsed by an executive at the top of the organisation.

Concur Expense and Invoice typically procured by finance or IT professionals. Both may be involved in implementation calls, but it’s usually a finance professional that manages the roll out and the on-going administration of the system.

This Concur implementer has the responsibility of introducing a change to the business; but, at the same time, these people are champions of change, progress and automation in their business. They are important resources in embracing change and technological advancements for the company, since they are tasked with deploying a new tool that is meant to bring efficiency, visibility and control of spend in their businesses.


Trained pilot groups

Companies that decide to phase their roll-out succeed by selecting a small group of Concur pilot users to begin with. These are either technologically savvy employees or Millennials who like using different applications in and outside of work. Training and helping employees get familiar with the new tool is extremely important.

Training can be provided for their pilot groups either onsite conducted by the internal people who implemented Concur and learned how to use the tool, or they can use Concur online resources and training materials. Once the pilot group users get to use Concur, they are then tasked with helping others in their team use the new application. It’s also important that at least a couple of approving managers are part of the initial pilot group who can approve expenses or invoices and also encourage employees in their team to adopt the new tool.

When dealing with a pilot group, it’s important to support them and provide them with all resources needed for them to start using the tool. This could be onsite or online training sessions, “how to” guides and quick and easy video simulations.  

Having a successful pilot group means the early champions can now share their knowledge and support for the new process and help with the overall change management in the company. Bottom up change management stresses the importance of the individual employee’s knowledge and perspective.


Communicate, communicate!

Internal communications are critical for companies to explain the rationale behind the change and the decision to use a new tool. Getting employees’ buy-in will increase the chance of realising ROI at earlier stages of the new technology deployment. If employees understand the reason and benefits of using new technology earlier in the pilot phase, they are much more likely to help others adopt the tool and communicate their good personal experience with the rest.

Generally, finance resources quickly understand how beneficial it is to capture and manage data in one easy-to-use, paper-less platform. Having one platform where expenses, receipts and invoices are submitted, routed for approval, processed, paid and reported on is invaluable for finance departments. However, the finance team who implemented Concur now needs to help employees adopt the application and use it by explaining the business and end user benefits.


One-off launch still requires a bottom-up approach

If the company is going for a mass, one-off roll out to all employees, departments and office locations, then the same principle applies for success: bottom up change management. Having a couple of Concur champions in each team to help the others learn how to use the tool and ensuring managers are on board to reinforce the use of the new process is imperative to success.

Employees are often so busy and used to their current processes, that having to learn and use a new tool might be perceived as a waste of time and effort.

Some employees might simply lack the skills. They may need to be helped and shown how the new application works as well as tips and tricks on making the most of it. Concur provides guidance and best practices as part of its client training resources. 


Real world stories

One of the most successful deployment stories I’ve seen is when Concur Expense was rolled out to an IT company from Manchester. They selected a small user group and trained them up as well as their managers who had to approve their claims. This then cascaded up the chain, so that these managers’ claims could also be reviewed and approved by their managers. It was a quick organic growth of a new technology within this organisation.

On the other hand, a digital marketing agency from London that decided to roll out to everyone at once, also succeeded by identifying a few champions who liked to test and play with new applications. These were the first users on Concur that then helped others create and submit their claims on Concur. The CFO, unsurprisingly, did not have time to manage the details of the deployment, but “outsourced” the roll to a handful of eager employees who jumped on the opportunity to use a new technology and show others how to do the same.


Coaching is key to resistance

There will always be a small number of employees who find it harder to embrace new technology. These individuals simply need time to get used to the new tool. Their peers and Concur can show them how to use the system together with Concur training. It’s important to coach them in a way that is appropriate to them, so take the time to understand their learning needs. Some people can follow instructions, others need to be walked through face-to-face, others are happy to work it out for themselves – everyone is different, so providing training in multiple formats can be key to success.

It is worth noting, that reassurance and backing from a senior executive will be vital to the success of your new technology deployment. Embracing new technology and change management is not easy.  Nevertheless, businesses can tackle this successfully as long as they are sensible about the bottom up adoption and considerate of the employee morale during the change management process. 


To discuss the numerous training materials and templates you can use if you’re considering deploying Concur, talk to our client success team on 01628 645 100 or if you’re an existing client, speak to your dedicated account manager for advice.