With annual sales of more than $9.5 billion, Amcor is the world’s largest packaging company, supplying a broad range of rigid and flexible packaging products into the food, beverage, healthcare, home and personal care and tobacco packaging industries. It employs 33,000 people across 40 countries, with its biggest business group, Amcor Flexibles, alone employing 12,000 employees across 23 countries in its European and Americas division.
Nathan Blackwell, the Flexibles Division Finance Process Director, explained that he is always looking for opportunities to cut costs and improve performance. With this priority, the division’s estimated EUR 30 million spend on business travel stood out as a key area that needed to be better understood, overseen and controlled.
The historical situation at Amcor was problematic in a way that many diverse, global companies will still, unfortunately, find familiar. Amcor had multiple different travel agencies across their different geographies and no online system for booking travel. As a result of this fragmentation and “offline only” booking facility it was simply not possible to get satisfactory visibility over traveller behavior and patterns, or even an accurate picture of total travel spend. Therefore, true control over the headline spend was an unattainable ambition, as was targeting meaningful cost reduction for the group’s balance sheet.
Determined to change the situation, Amcor identified 2 key characteristics that their future solution must have.
- It had to run on mobile devices, due to the dependence of their workforce – travellers and approvers – on the Blackberry platform.
- It had to have an integrated control process giving end-to-end visibility from procurement to payment, so the travel booking function had to link seamlessly with the expense system.
These factors would be critical to executive sign-off and so a period of research followed to identify the market leaders. A competitive RFP process was then launched in order to systematically compare the solutions on offer, in light of Amcor’s need for an end-to-end solution suitable for a global deployment.
After extensive interviews, meetings and analysis KDS was chosen as the best fit for Amcor.
A rapid 12 week pilot phase was launched, the first stage of which was the establishment of the project team. A KDS project manager was appointed and the Amcor team comprised 6 people including representatives from Procurement, Finance back office, HR, IT and other support functions. The team’s brief was to document in detail Amcor’s requirements, a process involving extensive internal discussions and buy-in, so that the deployment could be precisely customised. Once the new system was configured, there then followed a User Acceptance phase during which 50 travellers from Switzerland, Germany and the UK tested the system by using it to book travel, so that the configuration could be fine-tuned and any issues could be identified and acted on before the wider deployment. The goal is to go live globally during 2015.
Although Amcor’s management initially identified KDS’s T&E system’s ease of use and seamless integration between travel and expense as key benefits, since deployment even more value is recognised as coming from the included reporting dashboards that enable managers to monitor and even make trend predictions of performance against targets.
For the first time, managers have the ability to forecast, which helps them identify, advise on and implement policy, configuration and messaging improvements to optimise how travellers behave.
With this visibility in place they will finally be able to control T&E spend and deliver enhanced value back to the group and Amcor globally.