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How Bekaert uses SAP Concur to automate expense management

  • Roeland Vanbeselaere
    Roeland Vanbeselaere

Expense management can be tricky to get right – especially for an international company with many different local regulations and ways of working to take into account. Bekaert, global technology and market leader in steel wire transformation, set out on a quest for the perfect digital tool – and the ideal partner – in automating, centralising and standardising expense management and linked data flows in their plants across the globe. Explore their case story, as presented during SAP NOW Live.

Global business, global challenges

Founded 140 years ago, Bekaert is known the world over for its steel wire products and solutions. With 28,000 employees, customers in 120 countries and manufacturing sites worldwide, Bekaert is a fine example of a truly global company – which offers some unique challenges.

In terms of expense management, different approaches were taken across the company. While some local automation initiatives have been launched, other sites were still using manual flows. “In fact, most locations were emailing documents – and even sending printed forms – between sites, managers and the accounting department,” explains Johan Vanbergen, finance manager at Bekaert and project manager for the SAP Concur implementation.

Eliminating these time-consuming manual expense processes and approval flows – and the accompanying risk of human error – was a priority for Bekaert.

A powerful, end-to-end expense management solution

A project team was set up at Bekaert to implement a solution that would reduce error risks, eliminate paperwork and thus boost efficiency and save costs.

One of Bekaert’s key objectives was a smooth integration with its on-premise SAP system, including its Finance and HR modules, which are both required to optimize the end-to-end process of employee expense management capture, submission and approval. Therefore, SAP Concur Cloud was their solution of choice, because:

  • it has a global focus and presence;
  • it’s easy to use and mobile friendly;
  • it simplifies the process of complying with local laws and company policy;
  • it integrates seamlessly with SAP Finance and HR modules;
  • and it offers plenty of out-of-the-box reporting tools.

Bekaert chose Flexso as its preferred partner. “We knew from experience that Flexso is strong in setting up a combined team made up of professionals from both of our businesses – and inspiring them to work together as one,” asserts Johan.

Flexso then took the lead in organising workshops – globally, locally, online and on site – to integrate both global and local needs and expectations.

On time, on budget, in scope – all targets achieved!

The design work was kicked off in September 2019 and included three geographies in scope: North America, Belgium and Slovakia. By November 2019, configuration for North America was finished and system testing launched. And by January 2020, the system smoothly went live for North American users – on time, on budget and precisely as planned.

In Q4 of 2020, the team put the finishing touches on the implementation in Belgium, and Slovakia quickly followed suit.

Automated processes, intuitive tools, happy employees

Thanks to the new solution, Bekaert now has an automated system in place enabling the company to:

  • quickly, easily and correctly reimburse employees;
  • rely on continuously up-to-date ERP finance system data;
  • analyse this data to continuously improve process flows.

Bekaert end users are impressed by the flexibility and simplicity offered by SAP Concur. “It’s so easy to use, and the automation is highly appreciated,” concludes Johan.

Lessons learned
- Align HR and master data upfront to win time later
- Focus on having global processes that are aligned with the application needs – not on local processes
- Pay special attention to country-by-country differences in credit card integration
- Involve local teams as much as possible
- A phased implementation complicates things when employees in live countries submit expenses to managers in countries that aren’t yet live

Looking for a dedicated, innovation-driven partner to help you realize your SAP ambitions from end to end? Look no further than Flexso.

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