There are many solutions available for accommodating employee expense management and reimbursement for Microsoft Dynamics GP.  The various products differ in the specific features they offer, the sophistication of the business process they accommodate, and the complexity of the approval workflow that is required.  All the products contain essentially the same basic building blocks: Entry Form, Workflow, and Integration.

To explain this with an example, let’s say I go on a business trip.  I incur hotel, flight, meals, etc., all expenses that I put on my personal credit card or paid out of pocket.  When I get back to the office I fill out some type of form that details my expenses and classifies them by logical categories.  From there, someone needs to review my entries to ensure I am not billing the company for my personal massage or trip to the local watering hole.  This is where the approval workflow comes into play.  I submit the form to my manager for review and approval.  Upon approval, the form must integrate with something.  That something is determined by how my company plans to pay me back.  One option is that expense management is integrated with the payroll process such that my next paycheck will include reimbursement for the expenses I incurred.  The other is that I am setup as a vendor in my company’s accounts payable system and I will be cut a separate check.

So if all that sounds simple enough why are there so many options available in the marketplace?  That of course is where your business requirements need to be evaluated.  The next sections cover the high level considerations in making your selection.

The Options
Not to lay out every possible option that exists, but the major players can be classified in three categories:

  • Cross Platform Solutions – The big name here is Concur.  Their solution has integrations with every major ERP platform.  The product is very functional but also has a price that supports that functionality.
  • Dynamics GP Specific Applications – Paramount’s Workplace Expense and Ariett Business Solutions’ XpenseNet are the leaders in this category.  Both are applications that are installed and specifically designed to integrate with Dynamics GP.
  • SharePoint Solution – The last option, and admittedly the one that the author of this blog prefers, is a SharePoint workflow that is built to integrate with Dynamics GP.  In this case the form and associated workflow process are contained within SharePoint, and upon approval, a payable transaction is created.

Functionality
Of course the first major consideration during your selection process is whether the application functionality meets your requirements.  The major features include the following:

  • Approval workflow based on spending amounts, expense categories, employee departments, etc.
  • Credit Card Integration to allow credit card line items to be selected on expense reports and included with the review
  • Reporting to analyze the data within your reports and identify exceptions
  • Accessibility of how your employees will submit an expense report
  • Level of Integration with Dynamics GP

SharePoint Advantages
While most all Expense Management solutions have been built as stand-alone web applications, DynamicPoint has developed a product entirely using SharePoint technologies.  While this does establish the requirement that the organization must be using SharePoint, this is typically not an issue as Windows Foundation comes free with a Windows Server license.  On the flip side, the advantages are numerous.  The chart below summarizes the benefits of a SharePoint solution over a typical stand-alone web application.

Conclusions
As it is impossible to recommend any given solution without a full knowledge of a customer’s requirements, I am by no means going to advocate one solution over another.  My goal is to bring to light that there are some inherent advantages of a SharePoint based form and workflow over procuring a 3rd party application that should be considered as criteria in your software selection process.

By DynamicPoint a Microsoft SharePoint Partner.