Success Stories

Arizona Diamondbacks: ExpenseConnect

Hitting a home run with seamless expense integration.

managing travel expenses

Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks stepped up to the plate in 1998. Since then, the franchise has won five National League West titles, one National League Championship pennant, and the 2001 World Series. Yet the organization couldn’t have had their on-field success without the hard work and dedication of the players working behind the scenes—and that includes the finance and accounting department.

Situation

The Diamondbacks started using Concur to manage the travel expenses generated by their team scouts as well as any operations staff and front office executives who found themselves on the road—about 75 active users altogether. “Concur was our first step toward moving away from paper-based expense reporting,” says Chris James, the Diamondbacks’ Director of Accounting. “But getting data into Microsoft Dynamics GP required hand-keying multiple lines of data for each expense report. Our ultimate goal,” James explains, “was to create a completely automated expense management workflow, including approvals, without having to stop at the end of Concur’s functionality.”

Despite a dedicated and capable IT staff, the organization lacked the developmental bandwidth to create a custom solution for automating the integration between Concur and Dynamics GP. Plus, James’s team needed a quick, efficient process implemented in time for the busy beginning of the baseball season. In search of a cost- and time-effective answer, the Finance department scoped out the project and handed it over to the IT team, who found Wipfli’s pre-built ExpenseConnect for GP solution.

Strategy

Wipfli was engaged to handle the project. “They are a great partner with a great solution,” says James. “From contact to launch, it was really quick—a week or two, tops.” Wipfli worked with the Diamondbacks’ team to configure the integration solution through an interface installed directly into Dynamics GP. Working together, the integration was configured to leverage Dynamics GP Web Services to pull expense reports from Concur, and the data was mapped to meet specific business requirements without the need for intermediate files. “The solution is so well integrated into GP software, it doesn’t require a big IT process,” James says. In fact, when his team saw the results, their scope shifted and the project grew.

“As we saw the power of it we started thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could create payables this way or accrue a payment that way?’” recalls James. “Instead of simply using the expense modules and payables, we were able to start working with checkbook/cash modules.” James found Wipfli’s knowledge of the Dynamics GP environment and its interplay with their ExpenseConnect product helped his team make the most of their solution. “They saw how we did things and seemed to understand what we were asking for without us asking it,” he explains. “The solution is flexible and turnkey—it works for how we want to account for things.” 

James estimates the Diamondbacks finance team has saved up to 5 hours a week in data entry since implementing ExpenseConnect. “It’s an invaluable 5 hours,” he asserts. Now, only one payables staff member manages the streamlined expense process. “She runs everything on Concur’s website,” James explains, “and once it’s report-ready, she clicks on the ExpenseConnect button that automates the entire process!”

And noting the intangible benefit of internal customer service, “Our staff is incurring expenses on behalf of the company, but not feeling the pain of waiting for checks to arrive,” James says. “There’s never a hang-up. An employee enters their expense information into Concur and they know when they are going to get their payment,” he continues. “It’s made an impact on our G&A function, making us an efficient, responsive member of company.”

James adds, “Their product is designed well and runs well. Once implemented you don’t know it’s there. It’s one of those things—especially in the process driven world like finance—that if you find a solution and no one knows it’s there, that’s a big thing!” James says. “People are happy with how our expense reporting process works. And knowing mechanics of our process, the finance staff appreciates Wipfli’s piece because it’s what brings us the workflow value of Concur.”

Key requirements included:

• Completely automate expense management process

• Integrate Concur expense data into Dynamics GP

Key challenges included:

• Quick project turnaround

• Cost-effectiveness

Benefits

Time and money were saved by removing a manual step in expense management process. The Diamondbacks saw increased productivity of accounting staff, saving 5 hours/week. In addition, the team was able to deliver better customer service internally.

Relationship Executive(s)

Shereen Mahoney, CPA, Partner