TOMRA Food cuts expense processing time and drives compliance with SAP Concur

Jun 14, 2021

With a large pool of people extensively traveling the globe, TOMRA Food used to spend a lot of time and money controlling and managing a paper-based travel expense process. A drive to overhaul the complex workflow process led to the implementation of SAP Concur Expense, featuring delaware as finance-savvy implementation partner. The result: time and cost savings and much smoother compliance.

Headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, TOMRA Food designs and manufactures sensor-based sorting machines and integrated post-harvest solutions for the food industry. Their solutions are installed at food growers, packers and processors around the globe. With customers as well as centers of excellence, regional offices and manufacturing locations in every corner of the world, employees travel frequently – leading to a heavy travel and expense management process.

Inefficient expense management process

“The expenses incurred during the business travels were submitted, processed and reimbursed manually,” explains Wim Vermeire, senior manager at delaware. “With so many people sending in digital as well as paper receipts and invoices, it was difficult and time-consuming to stay on top of incoming costs. In addition, the manual processes were error-prone. Last but not least, especially reclaiming domestic and foreign VAT, with different rates and tax rules to comply with, was complicated. That led to large backlogs in the processing of expenses and, consequently, in the payment and reclaim of VAT.”

"Due to the lack of transparency and digital capabilities of our previous expense processing system, we incurred a backlog of several years in some cases.  Various expenses were neither properly registered, nor were they claimed in a timely manner, which left us vulnerable to compliance and VAT reimbursement,” admits Danielle Gidley, finance manager for Belgium & Netherlands at TOMRA Food.

Receipts scanned and submitted via smartphone

Convinced that the travel expense processes needed a complete overhaul, Danielle and her team started looking for a new tool. SAP and TaxBack International, a leading provider of VAT compliance, reclaim and payment solutions, suggested using SAP Concur and its mobile app to streamline the entire expense management process.

“To reimburse employees and reclaim VAT quickly, you need correctly completed, rapidly submitted employee expense reports and to be able to quickly match receipts with charges. That was one of TOMRA Food’s major pain points,” Wim continues. “SAP Concur has an easy-to-use mobile app that allows travelers to take a picture of their receipt with their smartphones. The system automatically recognizes relevant information like amount and date and the expense is fed directly into the expense report. The solution was just what TOMRA Food needed.”

Long-term partnership

SAP called in the help of delaware to implement SAP Concur. Wim explains why: “More than being a trusted SAP partner, our colleagues from delaware Digital have been working closely together with TOMRA Food for some time now. TOMRA has always been happy with the solutions, expertise and services we offer. So, they were enthusiastic to join forces with our procurement team for the SAP Concur project.”

SAP and delaware kicked off the project in early 2020 – just before the Covid-19 crisis hit. “Although the pandemic brought business travel to a standstill, TOMRA Food never hesitated and carried on with the project in order to ensure their readiness the moment business travel resumed,” Wim recalls. delaware assembled an in-house team to determine the scope, implement the tool and provide remote training.

Travel expense policy as a starting point

After six months, SAP Concur was up and running in Belgium and the project team has in the meantime rolled out the tool in the Netherlands as well. TOMRA’s strong preparation was one of the keys to the smooth implementation, says Wim: “More than implementing a tool, this project is about defining a travel expense policy: defining an acceptable cost, what expenses can be reimbursed, how they should be charged, etc. TOMRA Food had done a great job in this, which made it straightforward for us to configure SAP Concur.”

Clear improvements across the board

SAP Concur has made the lives of TOMRA’s finance team easier, while travelers are happy with rapid reimbursements and less paper administration, explains Danielle: "Our people no longer have to keep track of every expense they make in spreadsheets. They simply take a photo of their receipt on the go and fill out some additional information – all on their smartphones. SAP Concur then leverages machine learning to automatically recognize cost items, link incoming credit card transactions and allocate expenses to predefined categories, after which processed expense claims are sent to the relevant managers for approval.”

“Moreover, expenses can now be submitted and approved from anywhere in the world. This previously had to be done at the office, which was another reason for the major backlog. Thanks to this new smooth workflow, employees get reimbursed much faster. Overall, the whole process combined with the adaptable reporting tools creates more insight into spending – which helps us keep costs under control.”

"Our people no longer have to keep track of every expense they make in spreadsheets. They simply take a photo of their receipt on the go."

Danielle Gidley, finance manager for Belgium & Netherlands, TOMRA Food

Compliance with VAT regulations made easy

Last but definitely not least, SAP Concur makes compliance much easier. “We had TaxBack do a manual VAT audit on the old expenses before Concur, and our compliance rate was only 10%. Within the first months of using Concur, this shot up to 40%,” says Danielle. “It’s so much simpler now to reclaim VAT on purchases. Thanks to the VAT and audit rules we set up, the software automatically identifies VAT-eligible expenses, validates receipts and automatically claims the VAT refund. Manual reviews or amendments are only needed in the case of exceptions. Moreover, Taxback have direct access to Concur, which lightens the administrative process and saves us time and money. And as changes in international VAT rules are now automatically available in SAP Concur Expense through an update of TaxBack, we no longer have to keep track of that ourselves.

In short, SAP Concur really is a major step up for our business and we are looking forward to collaborating with delaware again for further rollouts in other TOMRA entities.”

"Before Concur, our VAT compliance rate was only 10%. Within the first months of using Concur, this shot up to 40%."

Danielle Gidley, finance manager for Belgium & Netherlands, TOMRA Food

The delaware touch

delaware is now an official SAP Concur reseller in Belgium and is currently implementing SAP Concur for several customers. “Our experts are familiar with financial business processes, which they combine with more technical SAP and SAP Concur expertise. That means they’re well positioned to help companies of all sizes reshape their travel and expense processes – in order to cut time and costs while simplifying compliance,” Wim concludes.

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