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Corporate Card and Travel & Expense Reimbursement: Enhancements and Implementation

Objectives & Scope

The early 2011 redesign of Emory’s Travel and Expense (T&E) reimbursement process resulted in improvements in the efficiency and speed of reimbursement to employees.  Seeking to build off these improvements, Financial Operations has partnered with the Office of Business Practice Improvement.  The goal of this project was to research, understand, and apply industry-leading practices, both within and external to higher education, related to reimbursement of travel and business-related expenses.

This effort was a collaborative effort between Financial Operations, the BPI office, and the project’s working group. The unit and school representatives brought their unique expertise and knowledge of challenges to the project. This venture will also collect key lessons learned from the implementation and operation of the revised T&E process. This project resulted in an understanding of current lessons learned, best practices, a series of recommendations, an implementation plan, and process improvements.

The project work streams include Benchmarking, Current State Review, User Experience, and Communications. As part of these work streams, the project team performed benchmarking research and interviews, process mapping sessions with current users, and numerous focus groups and interviews. Survey tools were used to assess users’ experiences with the system.

BPI’s role in the implementation phase of the Travel & Expense project concluded in April 2013. Four of the ten work streams were fully completed, four were transitioned to the Financial Operations team for further implementation, and two of the work streams were postponed until after the Compass Upgrade. BPI completed its formal work on the project, but will continue to serve in an advisory role as the implementation proceeds.

As of April 2013, there were 2,000 active Visa Corporate Card users. A robust communication campaign had been completed, and new policies were implemented and communicated. Additionally, corporate card documentation requirements were revised and work was well underway on migrating direct bill purchases to corporate card, refining and improving travel agency service, and eliminating duplicative expense report approvals.

During the implementation phase, recommendations were proposed, refined and vetted throughout spring with over 300 staff and faculty across many schools and units.  This plan resulted in the prioritization of several key recommendations which are closely related to the roll out of the new corporate and purchasing cards. Additionally, the vetting process helped to refine several of the recommendations regarding the travel agencies. Further vetting with key stakeholders helped to finalize and refine the timeline.

An implementation plan was drafted and presented to the project sponsors, Executive Committee, and BPI Governing Advisory Board in early summer.  The plan encompassed several implementation projects, including: addressing missing, inconsistent and weak policies, promoting corporate card adoption, promoting the benefits of the travel agencies and ISOS, continuing to refine travel agency service, and revising documentation requirements for corporate card purchases.  Additionally, the plan includes long-term goals to enhance the Compass system.

The project centered around four guiding principles:

The Travel and Expense project identified thirty issues. Recommendations were identified and vetted thoroughly at different stages with faculty, staff, university leadership, financial operations, and project advisory groups. Some recommendations were identified for immediate implementation and others will be implemented in the future. A few of the Travel and Expense project outcomes were to:

In early 2013, Emory University implemented a new Corporate Card. The Business Practice Improvement team partnered with Emory’s Financial Operations to manage the overall execution of the project.

BPI provided project management resources to guide the change management and implementation of the new corporate card system. Project management activities included designing the overall timeline of the project, ensuring deadlines were met, determining the optimal “go live” date for each card, communicating with campus business officers, and providing oversight over the technical and functional work streams.

BPI also managed the implementation of the Travel & Expense Project findings into the roll out of the new card products.  The Travel & Expense recommendations were closely aligned with this project.

An Executive Committee was formed to provide strategic project leadership, issue feedback, and ensure that the project timeline was consistent with other related efforts (e.g., T&E Project).

A microsite was developed to explain Emory’s transition to the new Visa Corporate Cards.  The site provides downloadable resources, details about upcoming changes and information on when and how to apply for a new Corporate Card.  To read more about the new Visa Corporate Cards, please visit 

The new Visa Corporate Cards successfully launched on February 14, 2013. The following months saw a large increase in adoption rate and use of Emory Corporate Cards – a central goal of the project. This project also exceeded its goals including:

As of May 15, 2013, BPI transitioned all management of the Corporate Card Implementation to Financial Operations.  If you need assistance with the Emory Corporate Card, please contact