Groupama (€11.9 billion in revenues, 6.6 million customers) is the 8th largest general insurer in France. Internationally, the group is present in 9 countries and has 5.5 million customers.
The Notilus project, led since 2017 by Mr. Joël WAUTERS, Accounting Area Manager, concerns 6 companies: Groupama Gan Vie, Gan Assurances, Gan Patrimoine, Société Française Protection Juridique (SFPJ), Gan Prévoyance and Groupama Assurances Mutuelles (GAM).
“It was a revolution when we asked employees to enter themselves their expense reports. We were used to paper forms and re-entering their content was into our ERP (SAP), which was quite inefficient, hence the choice of Notilus.”
An evolving job role and the cohabitation of two processes
Originally, the project focused solely on expense reports replacing the Excel forms that used to be printed, attached to paper receipts, and then sent to Accounting. Travel management was integrated at a later date into Notilus.
Mr WAUTERS recalls:
“My job as an accountant has changed: in addition to my original job, I have become the administrator of a computerized expense report tool and a travel agent, with problems arising from the parallel usage of two tools. We eventually settled on a decentralized process where employees choose their solution.
The travel policy and booking control processes were merged using the software. As Groupama was changing travel agency, going from Egencia to Havas, it took advantage of this window to automate, under a set of guidelines, expense approval while keeping some workflows as safeguards.
Mr WAUTERS explains:
“As long as it falls under the travel policy framework and the budget for it is lower than 500 euros, which represents 95% of the cases, a trip can be self-validated, with the information simply relayed to the next higher level. This new process is well received by the teams, employees are empowered and play their role in cost control, and there have been no abuses so far.”
The transition was smooth, with access to both features for everyone. Of the 1600 active profiles, about 900 are Notilus users. Most of the administrative staff has little travel and few expense reports, although telecommuting has incurred costs, including screen reimbursements.
The transition to “full dematerialization” with the pandemic
According to Mr WAUTERS:
“We are in constant evolution with Notilus. A pilot test took place in February 2020, which led to a first deployment to GAM in March 2020 and then to the other entities. The employees are relatively happy. The experience of the first connection is crucial.”
The discovery of archiving with probative value
Electronic archiving is effective as of November 2019 and operational as of 2020. Travelling staff appreciate being able to do their expense reports on the go.
“We have set up tools to help with expense control via an RPA program. From the moment the original receipt can no longer be recovered, we have to make sure that it has not been submitted twice. The program connects to Notilus to output reports on expense statements that are awaiting accounting validation and those that have already been paid. A comparison of the two according to dates and amounts helps identify any duplicates.”
The most complicated part of the transition to paperless processes was managing the history of paper-based expense reports, for which many reminders had to be sent out during the pandemic when mail services were running at a low level.
The choice of Notilus: continuity within Groupama
The solution was already in use by some members of the group and had proven itself to several regional mutuals and G2S (Groupama Support et Services). At the time, we were in a delicate transition period following the change of our travel agency. The drop in travel-relatively activities during the pandemic, however, allowed us to implement the change. We chose a single solution for the group rather than contracting six entities individually, especially since there was an established framework contract already. The group’s history made things easier.
Centralization as an asset
Although the technical aspects were not decisive for Mr WAUTERS, as an accountant, having a centralized tool for the entire travel policy was a definite plus. On the accounting side, changes in reporting did not seem very impactful at first, as travel expenses were not the most significant expense item for the group.
“However, having successively integrated expense report management, then travel management, and lastly supplier invoices into Notilus, has enabled us to produce DSN reports in a very short time, less than half an hour for the six companies.
I have a month-by-month check of the DSN, with the accounting data from our ERP, and it perfectly matches the result generated by Notilus. I know that I can confidently send the data to our Payroll CSP. I can simultaneously declare both the expense reports and the travel part, which was not possible before,” admits Mr WAUTERS.
A specific parameterization for each company
“The setup took about a month and a half. Notilus support – through its expertise and proposals – was invaluable during this crucial stage, as we had to take into account the travel policies of 6 companies with specificities linked to different populations.
We eventually felt more comfortable configuring expense types and approval workflows for each organization, because things are not set in stone, and had one company moved, it would have affected all the others. Dematerialization made it possible to implement all these processes while avoiding unpredictable domino effects” explains Mr Wauters.
Productivity gains on the user side
Users enjoyed increased productivity and autonomy. Manual re-entry of expense reports by assistants in the ERP has been completely eliminated. Redundant administrative tasks were optimized, particularly in terms of telecommuting time. Changes in mobility management and dematerialization of expense reports have been essential to this transformation.
“We don’t have enough experience with electronic archiving yet, but considering that a URSSAF audit today would entail bringing back pallets of archive boxes, searching for documents, going through our ERP to find the expense report number, going back to the archive index to find the right box, etc., we believe electronic archiving might save some time.”
Our solution is dedicated to the moblity management. In addition to the expense reports management you can plan, book and track your business trips. It is also possible to manage your car fleet.