The events of 2020 have heightened the need for organisations to efficiently track and control travel and expense costs while ensuring they meet their duty of care obligations toward traveling employees.
At one university in Abu Dhabi, a timely implementation of SAP Concur’s platform ensured it was ready when the challenging events of 2020 unfolded.
NYU Abu Dhabi, which welcomed its inaugural class 10 years ago, was established in partnership with NYU and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and founded upon a shared understanding of the essential roles and challenges of higher education in the 21st century. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly-selective liberal arts, engineering and science curriculum with a world center for advanced research and scholarship enabling its students to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students come from 115 nations and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU’s campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university.
Nafeh Masood, Senior Director for Financial Operations at NYU Abu Dhabi, says the university initially deployed SAP Concur in 2014 to improve cost control. “We wanted to ensure we received the best and most cost-efficient deals from our travel partners, and to find areas where we could achieve further efficiencies. Our journey with SAP Concur has also provided us with greater transparency into our compliance and internal audit regulation. We now have a full view of our travel across our organisation.”
Prior to implementing SAP Concur, the NYU Abu Dhabi used a paper form that was circulated for signatures for proper delegation of authority. “We wanted to automate many of these processes to reduce the administrative burden on our back-office operations,” says Nafeh Masood. “One of the most important outcomes was the ability to get accurate reports on-the-fly, so we don’t have to chase our travel suppliers to know the status of our travel and expense costs. We also integrated our duty of care programme from a third-party provider with Concur, enabling us to always know where our traveling staff and students are.”
Change management plays a vital role in any implementation of new technology. According to a global study by KPMG, less than half of organisations undergoing business transformations expected to realise sustainable value from those investments.
Nafeh Masood believes the keys to a successful implementation are to get consensus across the organisation, enable collaboration between different stakeholders, and to ensure effective change management. “We had to ensure from the start that we truly understood the needs and challenges of our students, faculty, and administrative staff. This required us to listen to the voice of our stakeholders and take their feedback on board. Once we started the implementation, we rolled out a full change management process with training videos, documents and other helpful resources.”
The approach has been a success. “We could see benefits right away,” says Nafeh Masood. “Our administrative burden was reduced, and we could process receipts quicker and more efficiently. Our travel management partners could also get our travel and expense data in a systemic format that improved our efficiencies.”
Emma Shakespeare, MENA South Director at SAP Concur, believes Masood and his team have made great strides toward future-proofing the NYU Abu Dhabi’s travel and expense capabilities. “Any organisation that relies on manual processes, have vague travel and expense policies, or lack tools to ensure business travellers are safe will find their efforts at post-2020 recovery hampered. By putting SAP Concur at the core of its travel and expense capabilities, the university has achieved great immediate business outcomes while also ensuring it is ready and able to adapt to future challenges.”