Monday, July 20, 2009

Non traditional uses of existing products

A longtime client of ours wanted an online expense report system. Of course, I trotted out the normal list of third party products as well as eExpense from Concur. They had already been through a demo of eExpense with their payroll provider and had experienced, how shall I say it, sticker shock. The conversation went something like this...

Me: eExpense is a really great product, lots of functionality.
Client: Yeah, but we really just need a basic product with basic functionality. And the price tag just is not realistic for our need, we can't justify it.
Me: Let me see what else I can find that might be a compromise.

I did some searching and found most of the other third parties fall in about the same general price range. Some were a bit cheaper, but still had monthly subscription costs. So what to do? Then, I started to think creatively. The client already owned Project Accounting, and used it in one of their companies. They did not need to capture expenses by project, but...

Why not implement PS Time and Expense with some basic project setup, and use it to meet their needs? Now, this client was not on Business Ready Licensing, but if they were the savings would be even better! Bottom line is that in a little over two days of consulting time, and with less than $2000 in licensing costs for PS time and expense with user licenses, they have an expense reporting system.

We did a quick configuration of project accounting, and documented the setup of projects and cost categories (which will be the bulk of the additional setup they may expand in the future). The trick was to keep it simple, and not worry about full blown training on project accounting which was not needed. And the interesting part is that the simplicity is what the client likes (which is sometimes a complaint among full project accounting users).

Just thought I would share this as a reminder (one that I need from time to time) that the solution to a complex issue may lay right under your nose, and that sometimes simple is best. I think we as consultants inadvertently lean towards the "coolest" or the most functional solution. But we must remember that the ultimate goal is to meet the client's current needs and anticipate their future needs but not overstate or oversell them.


DPitcher said...

I'm in the exact same situation. A client asked for more info on eExpense but this product seems to be discontinued as of August 2009.

Thanks for the suggestion.

Christina Phillips said...

Yeah, it was a bit of a surprise, but I have heard there is another option coming from Concur directly?