Secret of My Success: Watching the Wampum

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  • Tell us a little about your company. We're a procurement and life cycle management and business planning advisor firm that assists companies in their decision-making process when it comes to outsourcing their IT needs, including services such as hosting, content delivery, streaming media, telecom, messaging, desktops, and bandwidth. We help companies transact to lower their costs and we help them do business planning based on our knowledge of the market by managing a lot of their biggest transactions, especially for media and financial companies. We're not a broker; we're Accenture-like in our professional services. We go from procurement to life cycle, so we're a full-cycle IT budget management firm. Clients like us because we cut their IT bills, increase their flexibility, and lower risk.
  • What problems were you facing? As an emerging company that is adding a half-dozen people a month, and as a guy who has been in the bowels of an organization, when you roll fast and you're growing, you never get paid. So my impetus was this: I wanted to pay my people faster. If they had expenses out of their pocket in a world where we don't give employees credit cards, I wanted to make it happen and implement a system that would account for it. The second part was to ensure what was billable back to clients was taken care of and had a strong audit trail on it. Capturing expense bill backs in a consulting organization is critical. Before we implemented Expensewatch.com, I'd get the feeling we weren't charging certain expenses back to clients. When we sign a contract with a client, we have rights for expense payback. At one point there was over $100,000 that didn't get charged back to clients, and we didn't figure that out until six months later. Tracking billing expenses is also important when trying to track customer profitability.
  • How did you select the vendor? We spent three weeks looking at different solutions. In the end it wasn't even an issue. There wasn't a competitor that was even close to Expensewatch.com. We signed the deal in one day and made the implementation about six months ago. We loved the fact that Expensewatch.com was on-demand. Expenses in large companies are horrifying because people either don't do them because they're hard to get back, or they're not done accurately and there is no audit trail. When we looked for a solution, Expensewatch.com was the only company that had an end-to-end budget management business piece that could tie into QuickBooks and Salesforce.com, both of which we use. Additionally, we have remote staffers who are running around the world closing deals and delivering business, so we wanted to make sure they would have easy access from remote locations.
  • What do you use the solution for? Expensewatch.com allows us to gain conformity around our sales force, which can be incredibly difficult. It provides us with a centralized budget management solution that allows us to keep track of our expenses and regulate them via the chain of command, since all expenses have to be approved through Expensewatch.com. We also use Expensewatch.com for customer profitability. We allocate a certain percentage of our revenue, or targeted revenue, against client acquisition and client management. If it exceeds a certain threshold, if anything falls out of scope within 10 percent, the budget warning light goes on and the executive team and myself are immediately notified via an email.
  • What have been the main rewards? Our sales force has really bought into the system, which is great because it's streamlined our expense approval process. Anything that has to do with expenses that people don't hate is thrilling to me. We get employees their money faster and we have a clearer picture of our expenses. For customer profitability, being able to monitor our spending on client acquisition at a strategic level is a critical component in this fast-moving environment.
  • What are your future plans? Moving forward, we're going to integrate Expensewatch.com with Salesforce.com, and by doing so, we're going to integrate its capabilities into the budgetary process. Right now, I'm able to manage all our expenses via the general ledger entries, but moving forward, I'd like to see our sales force submit expenses for the following quarter through Expensewatch.com. That would be great. 5 Fast FActs >> Age of the initiative? We launched our CRM initiative 3 years ago. >> Who was Involved? Myself, the vice president, and our controller. >> Best Idea? Making sure there isn't anything better connected to Salesforce.com. That was a precaution. >> Biggest Surprise? Nobody yelled and complained about it. >> Biggest CRM mistake made? There was nothing worse than Siebel in its first year of inception.
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