Concur Technologies: Safety in Numbers

By Joshua Weinberger Print this article Print

"Anything that saves me time, I'm all for that," says Bite's Judy Wilks. Still, she adds, "It could be a bit more intuitive."

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The size of your vendor's client list may not matter to you, but your vendor probably expects it to. Concur has certainly expended a great deal of effort increasing its client total—whether via resale partnerships with Microsoft and ADP, or through the purchase of competitor Captura last year.

The company broke even for the first time ever in this most recent quarter, so the plan may have some merit. Certainly some of those many, many users are on board for the long haul. When the U.S. Postal Service was looking for a vendor to help usher in a paperless system, Concur was thought "robust enough" to carry the load, says USPS Chief Technology Officer Robert Otto.

It wasn't all first-class delivery, though. "Concur was new to the federal market, so they were unfamiliar with some of our unique needs"—such as integration with other governmental systems. Despite "a lack in customer-service responsiveness that caused some support issues at the outset," Otto says, for a deployment that totals 77,000 users, "replacing Concur would be difficult."

"Difficult" is part of the problem. "On the surface, the product's slick," CNF's Rich McCallister says. "When you get into it, it's one of the most complex beasts that ever lived. That complexity lets you do all the things you want to do, but it takes lots of time and effort to get them all programmed in." Bite Communications' Judy Wilks agrees: At first, "there's a lot of customization. Each individual user has to physically type in [the codes] and save them. They don't [filter into] the whole system." Even later on, Wilks adds, the system continues to "always ask what town you incurred that expense in."

DuPont's Charles Stahl, though, finds Concur "very intuitive, especially for people who have used Web applications."

The hosted version seems to have won converts—especially with a cost that RMH Teleservices Controller Andy Bronstein refers to as "peanuts—at under $2,000 a month, there's no sticker shock." And RMH's implementation was a breeze. Concur's support, though, can be uneven. "They solicit feedback, but in an impersonal fashion," Bronstein says. "The smaller you are, the less significantly they treat it." Still, he says, there's nothing he asked for that Concur hasn't provided.

Some hiccups couldn't be anticipated. "We had one credit card," McCallister says. "We issued another one tied to Concur. The overlap's been confusing—it's taken a lot of intervention on our part to keep that straight."

This article was originally published on 2003-04-01
Assistant Editor
After being on staff at The New Yorker for five years, Josh later traveled the world, hitting all seven continents in a single year. At Yale University, he majored in American Studies, English, and Theatre Studies.

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