Earlier today we discussed the unique challenges of travel procurement – a nightmare shared by your employees as well as your finance team. After all, when booking a single trip can take an hour by the time you book your flight, rental car, hotel, airport transportation, off-airport parking, and dinner reservations and when finance has to sort through (tens of) thousands of expense reports literally by hand to determine whether their preferred carrier owes them a discount, how could you call it anything but?
Last week I was fortunate enough to see the answer. It’s called the Rearden Commerce Network. For those of you who read Spend Matters regularly, you’ll probably remember Jason more-or-less gushing about them as well in posts such as Rearden unShrugged where he called Rearden the future of “personal” services Spend Management for employees.
Services are tough. They’re calendar-based, time critical, and dynamically priced. There’s a reason there is no Amazon, Google, or Yahoo for services. Even the brightest software engineers cringe at the thought of trying to build a single platform to handle such a diverse array of services. But as far as I can tell, Rearden has done it. Sure the interface still looks Web 1.0, but the capabilities are Web 2.0 all the way. And when they say you can book a complete trip in 10 minutes – they mean it. I saw it – and it works! I’ll tell you one thing – from an applications perspective, few software packages on the market today impress me. Even today, I equate most software applications with undifferentiated organic fertilizer (which is probably why you hear me mention so few companies in this blog – that, or I really am another one of those arrogant PhDs). But Rearden’s solution impressed me.
If you are a mid-size or larger company with a lot of travel related spend, I can not think of a single reason why you should not be using Rearden now! When your employees who travel regularly are probably wasting up to 20% of their time on travel arrangements (instead of a more palatable 5%, or less), when you have no way of easily tracking who you are spending your travel budget on (and if you qualify for discounts) and, more importantly, no way of enforcing that employees are buying against your preferred contracts when possible and sensible when there is this easy to use system that lets your employees do almost everything they need in a one stop shopping experience, allows your finance team to figure out whom you are spending on and in what amount, and allows your procurement team to enforce flexible spending rules. It’s a great addition to your supply chain suite!
Now, I’m not entirely sure whether it will scale up in the future to support all services in a consistent, coherent manner, even though they claim the platform was built to support any service you can imagine, but it is certainly capable of supporting any T&E service you can throw at it, and this is a very significant feat from both a business and a technological perspective. I can’t wait to get some time with their senior technology guys to do a deep dive into the architecture and technology. (After all, I need to use the PhD sometime!) If it’s as impressive as the business capability, I might just be inquiring as to whether or not that Director of Applications Engineering position that they are advertising can be done remotely.