In the Institutional Advancement dept. at Temple University, my colleagues (mainly fundraisers) use Concur for donor visits, to attend conferences, etc. I haven’t been given the opportunity to travel, so my interactions with Concur are no fun. I handle the questions and issues before, during, and after the customer journey when utilizing the app. The process of submitting for a reimbursement seems very clear, (collect receipts, scan receipts and upload, enter expenses, submit report for approval) but of course nothing runs that smoothly. The last step, submitting for approval, is where the problem begins (for some). How it works at Temple, or at least in my department, the report goes through at least two (or three) levels of approval before reaching Accounts Payable for the payout. If the report jumps to the wrong approver, I must reach out to Accounts Payable to request a Concur Workflow spreadsheet to manually make the corrections, then return that sheet to Accounts Payable to forward to the Competency Center. I receive no feedback or updates on whether the changes were made until the next time the employee submits a report, which mostly likely puts me right back at square one until we finally get it together.
Trying to get to the root cause of the problem could take a lot of digging and decomposing of the process, but I think I can attempt to get to one of the “whys” for this problem. In my role, I play middleman between departments all the time. Every department connects to another department in one way or another, and if one part fails, the entire operation will fail. In this case of the Concur Workflow process, although I can’t blame the system build on the university because SAP Concur is a separate company that provides the service, I do blame the university on the implementation of the moving parts (departments) into the workflow process to utilize the application. Initially, I thought the only key players in this Concur process were Accounts Payable, the Competency Center, and the employees/users. I soon found out that the Controller’s office also plays a role in the use of the system because of signature authorization. I think the “ah ha!” moment was when AP suggested that our issue stems back to HR. Users’ reports are routed to their supervisors for approval in Concur. Let’s say that our HR setup is the issue. Accounts Payable (who is responsible for running Concur) is not talking to HR, or rather, the HR setup is incorrect, and people are unaware of the effect it has on Concur.
I think the issue (why) with many of the systems and processes across the university (including this one) is that the departments involved (i.e. Accounts Payable and Purchasing) don’t talk to each other. I don’t think this hypothesis is too far fetch, and others would agree with me. There is no inclusiveness or collaborative effort within processes, even with me as the middleman. When there are changes made to a process, I usually don’t find out until I do something wrong.
I don’t have the power or authority to enforce change. I also don’t work in these departments, so I’m just an outsider looking in. This is just the opinion of a frustrated middle(wo)man.