ExpenseMatters : The Source for Expense Management

Interview with Infor

By on December 2, 2009 in Interviews with 1 Comment

ExpenseMatters.com Interview Series by Cary Strange: Interview #10 – Infor

Today we are speaking with one of the largest business software companies in the world, Infor. Joining us to answer our questions is Andy Birch, Sr. Director, Financials Product Management. Andy, thank you for joining us. To get started, could you provide some basic information about your company?
Infor is one of the largest providers of business software in the world. We develop and acquire proven software products that have rich, built-in functionality. Then we make them better. We invest resources into product innovation and enhancement. We work hard to simplify and shorten implementation times. We enable our software, services, and support globally. And we provide more flexible buying options.

Our goal: To provide the best possible software experience and a lower total cost of ownership for our customers.

What do you recognize as your primary and secondary target markets, and why?
Infor Expense Management is used by companies across many industries and sizes from financial services to manufacturing, retail, hospitality and more. There is a need echoed across all industries to control travel related costs through policy compliance, accuracy and reduced administrative activity.

It appears that there are quite a few players offering expense technology solutions. What separates your company from other companies providing similar products & services?
It’s a good question. There are many products that provide record keeping capabilities and help a company move from a paper or Excel-based process to a semi-automated solution. Infor Expense Management is more. It is flexible and configurable, able to manage all of a company’s employee initiated expenses, encompassing the entire expense cycle from pre-trip approval to preferred vendor discounts to payment processing, and all the steps in between.

What are some specific key product differentiators that provide you with a distinct advantage over your competitors?
Infor’s strategy is to focus on the customer first. We have 70,000 customers worldwide with a variety of Infor solutions and deployments across multiple industries. Fundamentally, we try to make sure each customer can take advantage of our solutions with minimal risk and implementation costs. Infor Expense Management is a great example of this, offering the solution in a variety of deployment options including, on-premise, dedicated hosting and SaaS subscription. The customer has the choice to start in one and migrate to another as the business environment changes. This is all done at no penalty to the customer. Also, Infor Expense Management is configured to the company’s needs, whether it is managing 100 or 100,000 travelers.
What are the most important questions that a company (looking for a solution) should ask before selecting an expense management provider?
We have a detailed document up on our website that expands on this question and these are a few of the points pulled from there.

• How are different business rules, workflows and expense types applied to different groups of users within the system?

It is important to look at how different groups of users are identified for the purpose of applying different business rules, workflows and expense types to the members of these groups. For example, is there a concept of User Group in the application, or do users have to be implemented in separate systems if different business rules and workflows are to be applied to them?

• For what countries does the system provide proven support for daily allowances (also known as per diems)?

Does the system provide support for both elapsed time and daily rate allowances? Additionally, can deductions from per diems (for example, where the actual cost of a meal is claimed) be based on either of the required options, these being specific deduction values and percentages of the per diem’s total value?

One of the most frequent questions we receive involve how the products are licensed and installed. What are your thoughts regarding the traditional licensing model versus the software as a service model (SaaS)? Which does your company provide and recommend?
It is important for customers to be able to implement a solution that meets their needs rather than the other way round. Far too often, we see the proverbial round peg forced into a square hole requiring the customer to sacrifice some of its needs and the ability to choose. This is why Infor provides customers the option to deploy Infor Expense Management in the manner that best meets the client’s requirements.

SaaS represents a great option for deployment with particular applicability to clients looking for a low infrastructure solution and minimal IT requirements. The capability to rapidly configure Infor Expense Management to meet a customer’s specific needs as opposed to costly customization means they don’t have to compromise

At the same time some clients prefer to utilize existing IT resources or have a need to closely integrate with other applications. Some may also view that due to the nature of their business or industry on-premise makes more sense. We go through a detailed evaluation with each client and the client ultimately makes the choice that best suits them.

Do you have any new customer or partner wins that you want to share with our audience? If so, why did they select your company or product?
A global consulting group chose Infor Expense Management for the solution’s capability to manage multiple per diem rates based on the location of the activity. The company also required the need to integrate with mobile devices such as Blackberry for entry and approval of expense reports and timesheets. Employees can create and approve expense reports without returning to their desk, which allows them to work more efficiently and speeds financial reconciliation.

A multinational manufacture of gas turbines chose Infor Expense Management due to the capability to map to their business processes which included integration with a non-Infor ERP system. The client’s major investment in their ERP system meant the expense management solution would need to be flexible, easy to adapt, and at a low cost to integrate with the rest of their IT infrastructure.

A Scandinavian bank selected Infor Expense Management due to its multi-currency and multinational capabilities. During the RFP process, Infor was the only vendor to meet all of the client’s requirements as well as demonstrate, on a moment’s notice, the ability to meet their configuration requirements and multinational needs.

We have customers in a wide range of industries and countries, so if readers want to contact me and ask about some specifics I would be happy to oblige.

This industry has been in a high growth mode for a couple of year now. What do you see happening with the industry, and the need for these types of solutions, over the next 12-18 months?
Certainly the focus has been on solutions that help companies manage spend and help them comply with statutory and industry-specific regulatory requirements. I believe more companies will recognize the cost savings an expense solution can achieve, both in direct savings through automating the process as well as indirectly through areas such as audit and compliance.

Class leading companies also recognize you cannot just simply stop T & E, it is fundamental to the running of the business. However, you can optimize your spend. Greater visibility over costs helps in terms of vendor discounts and in more detailed analysis of necessary travel-did that trip contribute to sales revenue and relationships or was it just a golf day? Intelligent analysis of T & E is something that Infor Expense Management provides today.

Finally, organizations also recognize that an expense solution needs to be more than just a standalone product. To be truly effective it needs to be integrated. These internal integrations are part of a company’s extended financial management or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. For example, this can help ensure expenses are automatically coded to create accurate journals in the general ledger. Another example is the ability to take advantage of master data management where, as soon as an employee is set up in HR, they are set up correctly for expense management. For another company it maybe that billable time and expense automatically create the appropriate sales invoice to the client. Infor Expense Management helps a company make the next steps to optimize each process.

Further to this, companies also see an expense solution as part of the travel ecosystem. By that I mean it needs to be integrated with a company’s preferred travel management company and/or online booking system. It also needs to integrate with credit cards, corporate or personal. Integration needs to be open and easy to implement, not just a hard wired interface. Companies don’t want to be restricted to one provider, model or process. Global companies, for instance, may choose a different online booking system in Europe versus North America. They may want to pull in level three data from a corporate card issued to regular travelers, while at the same time need to accommodate personal card feeds for an infrequent traveler. All of this from within a single, flexible environment.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. To all of our readers, if you have any additional questions or would like to speak with Infor about your T&E needs, please EMAIL me and I will put you in touch with the appropriate person at Infor.

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