IBM, Amex Aim to Ease Expense Reporting

Amex will offer IBM's Web-based expense reporting and reconciliation tool to its Corporate Card customers.

IBM and American Express will begin delivering on the agreement they struck last year to take IBMs Web-based expense reporting and reconciliation tool, customized by Amex, and make it available to Corporate Card customers.

American Express next week will begin marketing the new tool, which will be hosted by IBM Global Services at its data centers, after having customized it in multiple pilot programs last year.

The software, marketed by Amex as the American Express @ Work Expense Reporting and Purchase Reconciliation tools, is based largely on one of the online programs IBM created to transform itself into an ebusiness. IBM in its Dynamic Workplaces initiative has directed some 4000 employees and 300 researchers to market a variety of the home-grown Intranet technologies that it used internally.

The American Express @ Work Expense Reporting and Purchase Reconciliation tool promises to save medium and large-sized Amex customers a lot of time and money in T&E expense reporting and reconciliation, believes John Li, vice president of product development for expense reporting and purchase reconciliation at American Express Global Corporate Services, a unit of American Express Company in Los Angeles.

"One large global company (that signed on early to use it) told us they are seeing a fairly large process savings in journal entry and accounting. They achieved a savings of 50 to 70 percent," said Li.

Automating the expense reporting process can lower the average cost of processing a single report from $45 down to $5, according to a study done last year by Aberdeen Group, a Boston market research firm.

"If you have a corporate credit card, it self populates the report. Before you do anything you have the data on how much you spent and where for the days you traveled," described Ralph Senst, vice president of dynamic workplaces services at IBM Global Services, in Chicago. "Its more accurate, and you only have to be concerned with the cash transactions. You get your money faster, and you dont need the same audit controls over every line item because it is based on this auto-feed process," he added.

Owens Corning signed on early to the service—hosted by IGS—as a way to leverage ebusiness to reduce its cost of doing business, according to Sharon Means, purchasing card program administrator at the Charleston, S.C., company. The program solved the problem of not being able to allocate purchases to the correct cost centers, she said.

The self-service Web application allows corporate card users to avoid having to manually obtain signature approvals and review corporate policies, and accounts payable personnel no longer have to verify and assign accounting codes to thousands of travel and purchasing expenses.

The cost of the service varies according to the number of users accessing it.

  • Read more stories by Paula Musich