Concur Technologies: Safety in Numbers

By Joshua Weinberger  |  Posted 2003-04-01
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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."

& Company Info">
Reference Checks & Company Info

Bite Communications
Judy Wilks
(415) 614-3620
Project: Boutique San Francisco PR firm has no administrative staff, and runs version 3.3. Saving time was the main goal.

Text 100
Gary Rhoades
(415) 836-5990
Project: This PR firm—Bite's sister company—wasn't looking to reduce paperwork, but to track its expenses to the proper client.

RMH Teleservices
Andy Bronstein
(610) 492-2116
Project: Calling-services provider has 12,000 employees, 300 of whom travel extensively.

Rich McCallister
Dir., Management Accounting and Accts. Payable
Project: Supply-chain management company has been running Concur on a hosted basis for two years, and will eventually have 7,000 users.

U.S. Postal Service
Robert Otto
(202) 268.5400
Project: Three years after choosing Concur, the Postal Service will be upgrading to 6.1 in the coming weeks.

Charles Stahl
Manager of Reimbursements
(302) 892-5654
Project: The chemical conglomerate signed on in 1998, went through rounds of configurations, and then rolled out enterprise-wide in under a year. Uses Concur tools to scan receipts.

Geographic Data Technology
Linda Adams
Accounts Payable Manager
(603) 643-0330
Project: The N.H.-based developer of map databases just went live in January on a Microsoft Great Plains edition of Concur called eExpenses, on a hosted platform from Surebridge.

Executives listed here are all users of Concur software. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.

Company Info

Concur Technologies
6222 185th Ave. N.E.
Redmond, WA 98052
(425) 702-8808


Steve Singh
Chairman, President, CEO
Has served as CEO since 1996, and received additional duties in 1999. Previously was general manager of Symantec Corp.'s contact management division.

Rajeev Singh
Chief Operating Officer
Steve's younger brother, he co-founded the company in 1993. Before that, he held engineering positions at GM and Ford.

Michael W. Hilton
Chief Technology Officer
Cofounder. Held management posts at Symantec and Contact Software; cofounded Eshani.

Products & Services
Concur Expense is the core offering, available by license or by ASP, and also via resellers Microsoft Business Solutions and ADP. Concur Payment deals with the vendor side of accounts payable. The Imaging Service hosts customers' digitized invoices and receipts. Concur also has a Cognos-powered business-intelligence tool set.