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PHILADELPHIA – Employees at Philadelphia Federal Credit Union will soon be surfing the Web to purchase supplies and file their travel expenses. The organization is the first credit union to sign up to use the expensewatch.com on-demand expense control and reporting system. A Web-based application-service provider, expensewatch.com offers three modules-travel and entertainment, purchasing and invoicing/AP workflow. Each requires some configuration at the user end, but that typically takes only about 30 days, including integrating it into the organization’s accounts payable system, the company says. Each of the modules allows users to create rules, such as limiting designated employees to purchases under $5,000. Managers also can keep up to date on their expenses in real time, allowing them to adjust spending and prevent overruns, the company says. “To us this is really about introducing the ability for organizations to control operating expenses by taking advantage of technology that typically is unavailable to them because of price tag, long implementation times and resource demands such as server and software requirements,” says Bill Vergantino, president/CEO of Expensewatch Inc. in suburban Philadelphia. “It’s a flat file that’s simple to integrate with any of the major accounting systems,” Vergantino says. “And for many of our customers, it’s their first opportunity to automate many things they’ve been doing manually for years.” Noreen Harrington, vice president of accounting at $545 million Philadelphia FCU, says the credit union had just gone through a core processing conversion (to Symitar), put in a new general ledger system and installed new accounting software when the credit union heard about expensewatch.com from a board member. “There’s no way we were ready for another system implementation but we wanted something to automate and control our procurements,” Harrington says. “Expensewatch was very attractive to us because it’s intuitive, it’s like shopping on the Internet, and because it’s Web-based, it didn’t require the kind of involvement from our IT staff that a whole new software package installed in-house would. And given our size, that wouldn’t have been cost effective, anyway.” The company trains an administrator at the client end and that person then works with getting the rest of the users up and running on the new system, using such tools as live Web-based training sessions. Philadelphia FCU purchased 40 licenses and is designating those among its staff of 250 or so who have travel expenses and order supplies to be the first users. “We’ll be able to do things like, say I know a conference is coming up that I need to go to. I can put those numbers up against my budget, and if we have the money, I can buy what we need online all through this system,” Harrington says. “And then accounts payable can download what I did from expensewatch and cut the check. “It will help us save money by eliminating a lot of paperwork, of course, but also in things like placing dollar limits on purchases. For instance, we can set it so that you can’t spend more than $500 on an airline ticket.” And because the system is an ASP, expensewatch.com can keep watch on how clients use it and help steer them to features they may not be taking advantage of, as well as get strong feedback on what functionality the company may want to add, Vergantino says. “There’s minimal risk,” the company president says. “You haven’t invested any money in a server or database software. It’s on a subscription basis. If you see value in it, you continue with us. If you don’t, you don’t.” – [email protected]

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