Navigating a SAP Concur Rollout in EMEA
Jeff ChanPrincipals & Practice Leadership
Focus Area/ServiceSAP Concur
You have decided to rollout SAP Concur across the EMEA region, but how do you manage the complexities that come with implementing across such a diverse set of countries? With so many countries involved, each speaking different languages and with their own legal and tax rules, here are some important things to consider based on Acquis’s experience assisting with SAP Concur implementation since 1998
De-centralised T&E process and policies add complexity to an EMEA rollout. It’s beneficial to centralise processes and policies before defining your requirements for SAP Concur. Once a centralised process and policy is created, defining a global model is much more feasible. This will save time with initial configuration and reduce the amount of administration effort post go-live, if you need to make changes.
Make sure to involve HR and Finance in harmonising your organisation’s travel and expense policy, creating a master policy with addendums for each country’s legal and tax requirements as required.
If you have workers’ councils exist in any of the countries being implemented, make sure to keep them informed about the project and the changes it will bring for their members. Ensure their concerns or suggestions are addressed as early as possible so there are no last minute changes or delays to SAP Concur.
Regardless of whether your organisation is introducing new cards or already has a programme in place, you will need to consider how your card programme(s) are going to be setup within SAP Concur. Card feeds will be setup to bring card transactions into SAP Concur, allowing users to create their expense claims.
Having different contracts for the card programme or different payment types will create the need for multiple feeds, at additional cost. This may be worthwhile if you require more control around the timing for releasing card transactions (staged rollout), or require different payment types due to local country requirements. The pros and cons of the various options should be discussed with your implementation team.
VAT can be one of the more complex components within SAP Concur, but it doesn’t have to be.
SAP Concur offers pre-configured tax configuration for most major European countries via a Global Template. As VAT rules can often be down to interpretation, it is vital that your VAT experts within each country review this Global Template and make changes where required. Remember, it is your organisation that will need to justify any VAT reclaims to the authorities.
VAT experts often aim to account for all possible scenarios to maximize VAT reclaim. Each scenario, or condition, as known in SAP Concur, can add complexity to the configuration and potentially the end user experience. Simplify the conditions where possible and even consider taking the more conservative approach for VAT reclaim in an effort to streamline the VAT configuration.
Some travel allowances are mandated by the government within each country. SAP Concur has collated the standard travel allowance rules for most major European countries and added them into the Global Template. It is important to review the travel allowance rules and rates for each country and alert the implementation team if any changes are required, compared to SAP Concur’s predefined rates.
If rates defined by the company are higher than the government rates, then the added complexity of benefit in kind tax reporting needs to be considered. If some of your countries are not included in the Global Template, as travel allowances are not common, discuss how best to configure these countries with the implementation team.
It is worth checking whether your organisation follows the mileage rates defined by each country’s local government, as these rates can be mandatory in some countries, and only advisory in others.
Companies who follow government rates, will have a simpler process for mileage rate updates. Configuring company-specific defined rates is also possible, and if needed, you can maintain multiple
sets of rates within each country.
The effort required for local translations should not be underestimated. SAP Concur offers their solution in multiple languages, but this only covers core configuration. If you create any custom forms, fields or audit rules, for example, you will need to provide translations for these configured components in each language required.
Make sure a resource who will perform the translation is defined early in the project, and allow enough time within your project schedule to account for this effort. Also consider that there may be different dialects when defining translated values, for example, different interpretations of a German translation for an English word, across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
Understanding all the legal and tax reporting required by European authorities can be challenging. Since all the required information can be gathered in SAP Concur, SAP Concur reporting provides a simple way of creating reports to meet statutory reporting requirements, such as travel allowance amounts paid above government rates.
Most companies have standard attendee types for ‘employee’ and ‘business guest’, and depending on
your policy and your industry, other types may need to be considered. For example: ‘Spouse’, if your policy allows spouses to travel, in certain circumstances ‘Health Care Professional (HCP)’ or ‘Government Officials’, if you need to track costs for these groups.
An added complexity for entertainment expenses in EMEA, is the need to calculate tax deductibility. Defining different attendee types can facilitate separating the taxable and non-taxable expense for corporate tax calculation.
A compliance workflow step is often used after your travellers have submitted their expense claims. SAP Concur enables the system enforcement of the travel and expense policy with audit rules. Audit rules allow you to restrict expense types, apply fiscal limits, trigger additional workflow steps, or simply display a reminder to the user. There are certain discretionary things that cannot be validated, like whether the correct expense type has been selected, or whether a valid tax receipt has been attached, if tax can be reclaimed.
Consider whether all claims require compliance checks, or if only certain claims based on specific criteria should be selected for review. When implementing across multiple countries, also evaluate whether compliance checks should be done by local teams, in each country, or if an outsourcing model would work better with training provided for country policies and tax rules.