B2B Payments

Carlsberg Weans Itself Off The Spreadsheet

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When news emerged this month that travel and expense management firm KDS would be providing its solutions to beverage giant Carlsberg, PYMNTS got the lowdown from KDS on the complexities of managing corporate and employee expenses for such a large, multinational corporation.

In essence, KDS explained, the more employees a company has, the more challenging it is to control how those employees spend corporate cash.

PYMNTS wanted to learn more about the specific challenges Carlsberg was facing when it came to T&E. Speaking from Valby, Copenhagen, Carlsberg Group Enterprise Architect Didier Nowak explained what hurdles the company is looking to overcome with a new T&E provider.

“The main driver” to overhauling its expense management processes, Nowak said, “was the urgency to replace legacy systems that we’re phasing out.”

[bctt tweet=”‘The main driver … was the urgency to replace legacy systems that we’re phasing out.'”]

The top challenge in this: Carlsberg operates throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. That means juggling expense management across jurisdictions and across currencies.

“The very immediate issue is that we had systems in France and Denmark phasing out that we needed to replace urgently,” Nowak said. He added that each unit in each country handles the T&E process within their own borders, and employees need to get reimbursed in their home currency.

And when it comes to managing corporate spend policy across these borders, Nowak explained that Carlsberg deploys a global travel policy that includes the minimum level of rules with which each unit needs to comply. “On top of that, each country can reinforce this policy with additional rules, as long as they are stricter than the global ones,” he said.

In addition, Carlsberg uses both a corporate card and an employee expense and reimbursement program. Employees book flights through company cards, issued by Citibank, while all other expenses are paid for by employees’ personal cards. But Nowak explained that employees must file their expense reports on deadline if they are to be reimbursed before their bank accounts are debited.

In order to ensure seamless employee spend tracking and reimbursement throughout all locations, Carlsberg needed to launch a unified T&E program to ease friction and enforce worldwide (minimum) corporate spend policy. Despite those challenges, Nowak said the company was still using less efficient methods to handle all of this.

“Carlsberg still has various ways of managing expense claims, including still a number of countries using Excel forms and manual processing,” he said. “So, the plan is to move countries, when it makes sense, progressively on one single platform: KDS.”

With a new T&E provider at the helm, Carlsberg will gradually onboard each of its units across three continents to a more seamless way of streamlining these elements — commercial card spend, employee personal spend and reimbursement, enforcing corporate spend rules and appropriate currency payouts.

Nowak told PYMNTS that, so far, Carlsberg’s Copenhagen headquarters is on the platform, as is its unit in France. But there is still a long way to go, especially in units still relying on legacy T&E methods, he explained.

“We are currently rolling it out in our shared service center in Poznan, Poland, where, so far, this process was very manual,” he said. “We are considering another potential rollout in the U.K. in 2016, where we see significant efficiency gains in moving from an Excel-based process to KDS, especially considering that the sales force is now fully equipped with iPads.”

It’s a complex process but all for a single goal, Nowak said. “Efficiency, transparency and compliance against our travel policy are definitely our targets when implementing a new T&E program.”

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