How Dimensional Fund Advisors turned a two day reconciliation process into no time at all.
Dimensional Fund Advisors was suffering from a time consuming travel reconciliation process that was costing the business the equivalent of two working days per month in processing. The complexity of its travel expense coding and the use of a corporate credit card had created an inefficient back office process that had caused significant accounting backlogs.
About Dimensional Fund Advisors
Dimensional Fund Advisors is a global investment manager offering a full range of equity and fixed-interest strategies. Founded in 1981 in an apartment in New York, it currently has 12 offices in eight countries (including Australia), more than 1100 employees and $675 billion in assets under management.
Dimensional Fund Advisors' Australian operation has been partnered with Corporate Traveller for 10 years. The company has 100 employees and a total travel volume of more than $1 million a year with flights, service fees and hotel bookings all billed to a single corporate AMEX credit card. The company uses the Concur expense management system (EMS) to reconcile the single AMEX card and for the reimbursement of their employees' out of pocket expenses.
Dimensional Fund Advisors' typical monthly credit card statement was approximately $85,000 and ran at roughly 200 to 300 lines. Matching these payments with all the tax invoices produced for flights, service fees and hotel stays was a time consuming and inefficient process that took approximately nine hours of uninterrupted work each month. The task had become so arduous that the company often had a backlog of up to four statements to reconcile.
Also complicating the process was the fact that many hotels failed to email a final tax invoice to Dimensional's reconciler when a traveller checked out. This required either Corporate Traveller or Dimensional to chase missing hotel invoices from the hotel, uploading them into the company's EMS and reconcile the credit card statement. A laborious but unavoidable task.
Processing expenses also required time consuming coding to ensure costs were assigned to the correct Cost Centre and appropriate Business Purpose.
The roadmap to change
Dimensional Fund Advisors' accounting team had identified three key efficiency goals for its travel invoicing:
- Reduce the time taken to reconcile its credit card statements with travel invoices.
- The central collection of original tax invoices within their EMS
- Reduce the coding input required to processing expenses.
Corporate Traveller recognised that its Rapid Reconcile solution could meet the company's efficiency objectives through several key capabilities:
- Rapid Reconcile would deliver all Corporate Traveller invoices directly into the company's EMS.
- eReceipts could be delivered daily and automatically matched to their respective credit card expense transactions.
- Delivery of automatic expense line coding.
Rapid Reconcile made an immediate impact to Dimensional Fund Advisors' accounting processes. The time spent reconciling the Corporate Traveller component of the company's credit card bill was reduced from two working days to 15 minutes.
This dramatic time saving and reduction in complexity enabled the Senior Associate responsible for the reconciliation to delegate the task to a colleague and concentrate on other duties. The time savings also enabled the company to clear its statement backlog and return to a more timely accounting schedule.
The bottom line
The introduction of Rapid Reconcile delivered 15 hours per month in productivity gains to Dimensional Fund Advisors' accounting staff. The reduction in difficulty of the reconciliation process enabled the task to be delegated to a company travel booker where it was previously considered too time consuming and complex for an employee at that level. The Rapid Reconcile implementation and the efficiency savings equated to approximately $9,000 in annual savings.
“Before Rapid Reconcile, reconciliation used to take two days. Now it takes no time at all. And we don’t have any more credit card statement backlogs.” Rhiannon Starr, Associate, Dimensional Fund Advisors.