In Depth

Expense Management’s New $100M Player

An organization is as good as its expense reporting. After all, it’s as important to monitor where the money goes even as money comes in to a firm. And for companies with a few employees all the way to the biggest multinationals, expense reporting may be tied to legacy systems and less efficient technology. Chrome River’s Cofounder and COO Dave Terry told PYMNTS why expense management is a greenfield opportunity with room to grow across a number of industries.

Let’s talk a little bit about automation for expense recording. There’s not a lot of it out there, even talking about some of the largest companies in the world. Why hasn’t that caught on yet?

DT: It’s interesting. There’s a lot of really greenfield. There are a lot of organizations out there that are still low to no automation, using Word templates or Excel-based forms and stapling receipts and passing them around manually and FedEx and so forth.

So you have a number of those that still need automation. In addition to that, you find a lot of growing organizations end up with disparate systems. They will use some older technologies, maybe they did something four, five, six years ago with some workflow tool and cobbled something together to support their expense reporting needs.

And then over time they brought in another division from an older organization with a different system.

And now they are generally looking again to automate globally with one standard platform that has more of the modern conveniences of technology as provided by Chrome River.

Roughly, how much money can an organization save by switching to an automated expense reporting system?

DT: It’s hard to quantify an exact number. We come at this from a couple of approaches.

One, clearly there’s a big efficiency gain. We rarely even try to focus directly on that one because it’s so obvious. Companies will look and see exactly the manual process that’s going on today starting with their users, usually starting with bundles of expense receipts because they don’t like the burden of chores of actually filling out expense reports and waiting a month or two at the time to do it. Then when they finally get around to doing it, they’re going through a very tedious manual process.

Through a manual process, they begin to quickly realize that burden, and with automated cost controls in place and being able to simplify the front end for the user in a very consumer-like application, so they find it intuitive and easy to use. They can pass that later on to the organization, reducing or eliminating all the steps, and getting much tighter controls over the expense spent in the organization by having that all run through a business rules engine as the technology that Chrome River provides.

So, if you look at it from a few areas, you have the obvious efficiency gain. But on top of that, once you really have a sophisticated cost control platform in place, your employees actually become better stewards of the company checkbook.

Specific to Chrome: What problems do you guys solve around expenses?

DT: We automate really the labor-intensive, error-prone and typically manual workflow process of expense reporting and also supplier invoice management. We provide this as a [Software-as-a-Service] to organizations worldwide from small companies with 100 to 200 employees all the way up to and through the Fortune 500.

You’ll find us in verticals worldwide — 60 percent of the global top 100 law firms in the world use Chrome River because they have some very complex expense reporting requirements — but then also all through professional services, financial services, technology, even things like sports and nonprofits and higher education.

You recently raised $100 million in Series B funding. What do you think about your technology attracted the investors?

DT: It’s interesting; I think the space in expense financial management has really gained a lot of attention recently, particularly with Concur, who is the big player in the space, having been recently acquired by SAP for $8.3 billion. I think they got a lot of attention and supplied a lot of attention to the space, in terms of big market opportunities for other vendors to capitalize on the enterprise market.

What are you guys planning to do with that chunk of change?

DT: We’re in enterprise organization, enterprise software, so we’re going to grow proportionally across our organization. We’re going to continue to add resources in QA and support and engineering, etc. We’re not just going to throw a hundred sales reps at it and then go after it and try to sell a bunch and [make] not everyone happy in the customer base.

So we will continue to grow in those sales and marketing areas that support the rest of the organization because we’re selling to really large organizations that are global and require a lot of resources.

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