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Concur system streamlines travelling

By Amber Tong     10/21/14 4:13pm

Concur, a web-based travel and expense system, launched on Oct. 20, according to Tessie Skulskih, assistant controller of disbursements in Rice University’s Controller’s Office. 

“Now, they start using [Concur] to process expense reports; people can use it to book travel,” Skulski said. 

According to the Rice Concur website, this new system centralizes two things: first, travel issues such as booking and travel reimbursement; second, expense reimbursement processing, which includes Purchasing-Card reconciliation and cash advance processing. 

According to Skulski, the travel planning portion, although optional, helps faculty, staff and students traveling for university business better organize their trips. In addition, Skulski said it lowers costs for the university.

“The travel part of it is not a mandatory tool,” Skulski said. “But it’s a mechanism for the university to be able to book airfare, hotel [and] car rentals in order to try and capture savings for the university on those expenses.”

The expense system, according to Skulski, is applicable to various kinds of reimbursement and therefore points to something bigger: it signifies a fundamental shift from paper-based to Internet-based processing systems.

“[The expense product] is a mechanism...that will replace the current system that we have in Webapps,” Skulski said. “It will move us away fromhhh paper.”

Skulski said another advantage of Concur is that it is more mobile and accessible to users than Webapps because it eliminates the constraints of media and geographical location. 

“Up until today, you had to work with paper, and you had to have a computer,” Skulski said. “If you’re away from campus, you had to have VPN access. [Concur] is an internet-based application, does not require VPN access and it works not only on computers, but [also] on your tablets and mobile phones.”

As the first day of operation ended with no unforeseen challenges, Skulski said she looks forward to the enthusiasm that whole-campus roll out will elicit. 

“I think in all the trainings that we have done, I sensed excitement about it,” Skulski said, “At the college treasurers meeting last month, we really sensed excitement from them because they want to get out of paper business as well.”

Skulski said in the coming months, the Controller’s Office will continue to help all involved parties become familiar with the system.

“We’re booked through the first week of November, and we’ve got more requests for departmental trainings,” Skulski said. “We foresee that we’re going to continue doing training to make sure everybody is on board and is comfortable using the product.”

Vicky Yang, a McMurtry College treasurer, said she feels positive about Concur although she hasn’t started using it.

“Right now we’re supposed to keep receipts for [a long time],” Yang, a sophomore, said. “[The new system] is good because it’s convenient, and we don’t have to do extra paper organizational work because everything is online. We can clear charges [and] upload electronic receipts, which makes more sense anyway.”

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