The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that “Change is the only constant in life.” Benjamin Franklin later said that “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” These maxims hold particularly true in business, where internal and external factors ranging from successful product launches to overseas stock market crashes can have a huge impact on an organisation’s strategy.
If you’ve just finished implementing a major and possibly lengthy enterprise software deployment, that’s probably not what you want to hear. After potentially months of carefully configuring your system and tweaking your business processes to support the software, the thought of having to undergo further changes to accommodate new processes, initiatives or business units could make even the most seasoned project manager’s hair turn white. While this predicament has previously been the somewhat unavoidable due to the rigid nature of many enterprise software implementations, CIOs are increasingly looking for solutions that are designed to readily adapt to their organisations as they evolve with the changing business climate.
When we first developed Chrome River EXPENSE more than a decade ago, one of the key areas where we knew we had to excel was configurability – making a solution which can perfectly reflect an organisation’s own business processes. Chrome River’s roots are in the legal industry, which has notoriously sophisticated requirements for expense management and reimbursement – far greater than most other industries – due to the complexities of client billing requirements. As a result, we knew we needed to create a solution with a business rules engine which could be configured endlessly, depending on the specific requirements of our law firm customers and their clients. As a result of this focus on configurability being part of our DNA, Chrome River is designed so that – regardless of the types of expense policy rules your organisation has in place, or how complex an approvals process may be – they can easily be taken from a long Excel spreadsheet and implemented into your expense or invoice management system.
We also realised that companies rarely stay the same for long (or at least those that are growing don’t). Business processes evolve and organisational structures change with new departments or hires. Expansions take place, often internationally. Business units are formed to take the company into new fields. Acquisitions take place. All of these can come with considerable challenges for internal IT teams, to ensure that existing enterprise software deployments can adapt to the changes. This is even more the case for solutions that touch all aspects of the business and have end-users across the organisation.
For administrators this means setting new users up in the system, training them (bearing in mind that some will only submit expenses infrequently), ensuring that the front-end interface is available in their native languages, and that the expense system is configured to comply with local tax jurisdictions. On the back end, organisations need to ensure that any migration from an existing expense automation solution is smooth and hassle-free, and that it is effectively integrated into other country-specific financial solutions such as HR, accounting and ERP systems (as many companies maintain multiple, disparate, ERPs in different countries).
When it comes to the business rules that manage these new users, these also need to be configured to reflect the new organisation. Policies for meals or hotels may change, and new reporting lines can lead to expense approval paths having to be adjusted to reflect these.
For some expense management solutions, these roll-outs, integrations and rules changes could lead to major headaches, as they simply aren’t architected to be easily reconfigured. As a result, either the changes simply can’t be made, or they require enormous change management initiatives. And while connecting to an ERP isn’t as simple as pressing a button, Chrome River’s experiences working with all major ERP systems in use today means that our team of project managers has most likely worked on a very similar implementation before, therefore streamlining the process.
So, while you can never forecast all the changes that your company will need to face in the coming years, you can make your life more predictable by choosing an expense management solution that will evolve with and support your organisation as you grow.
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Our choice of Chrome River EXPENSE was made in part due to the very user-friendly interface, easy configurability, and the clear commitment to impactful customer service – all aspects in which Chrome River was the clear winner. While Chrome River is not as large as some of the other vendors we considered, we found that to be a benefit and our due diligence showed that it could support us as well as any large players in the space, along with a personalized level of customer care.
We are excited to be able to enforce much more stringent compliance to our expense guidelines and significantly enhance our expense reporting and analytics. By automating these processes, we will be able to free up AP time formerly spent on manual administrative tasks, and enhance the role by being much more strategic.