We’re often told to work smarter, not harder. Now there’s an easy way to do just that. It’s called Concur, and it’s UTS’s new integrated travel, booking and expense management system for staff.
Concur, which officially launches this month, will make planning travel easier and more transparent. Perhaps best of all it means no more paper forms. Greenies rejoice!
General Manager of the UTS Business School Craig Lord was part of the procurement steering committee tasked with finding a solution to what was, in Lord’s own words, “an inefficient, labour-intensive, paper-based system that was also environmentally-unsound”.
Lord adds, “Previously if you were going somewhere you needed to fill in pages of paper forms and include information about how much you think you'll spend, including the cost of travel, accommodation, period of time away, conferences, daily living expenses and leave periods.
“You also needed to detail account codes you were charging these costs to, keep a travel diary for where you were each day, and obtain multiple signatures at multiple stages. And this is just the travel booking allocation side where not even a dollar has been spent.”
Concur, in comparison, allows staff to quickly book travel online using UTS’s preferred suppliers. If you’re travelling within Australia or New Zealand you’ll still need your manager to approve your travel before you book, but for other international travel Concur will automatically generate an approval request and email it to your manager for you.
You can also download Concur’s mobile app so you can photograph (and then discard) your expense receipts on the go.
Lord says, “Concur automatically starts generating an expense report in the background. For international travel where it's multi-tripped and complex, our preferred supplier can still do all the arranging on your behalf and send you quotes to approve without the generation of any paper.
“In the five years that I’ve been here, filling out those seven pieces of paper is one of the most constant issues raised by staff; it's complex, convoluted and time consuming. Here you've got something that can now be done in minutes.”
The system will even send you an alert if you’ve breached the UTS Travel and Expense Procedures which set certain limits on travel type (for example, economy versus business class) or if you select a fare that actually isn’t the lowest logical one you’ve been quoted.
It’s all part of Unleash UTS – a program of organisational and governance changes aimed at reducing administrative burden.
Lord says, “It’s about trusting staff and giving them the information to do the right thing by the organisation. We’ve done away with all the prescriptive double-checking and quantifying before you leave the country.
“UTS has a vested interest in moving away from ineffective paper-based systems and into modern technology that saves costs, operational issues and all the errors that come from it. Those savings can then be put back into our meaningful activities such as teaching and research and engagement.”
Lord, who is also an organisational psychologist, is an expert on the type of environment that allows staff to thrive and remain engaged. “With Concur, everybody benefits. Everyone is a stakeholder in an environment that says 'we trust you' and gives you the tools to do things effectively and efficiently.”