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VU rolls out new business travel, expense system

Jul. 25, 2013, 9:24 AM


Vanderbilt’s ubiquitous green travel forms will go the way of eight-track tapes when the new travel system rolls out across the institution.

The travel and expense system is powered by Concur. Polk Corporate Travel Management will serve as Vanderbilt’s partner for travel fulfillment. The new system allows travelers to book all travel aspects of a business trip in one system, and the expense reporting system is modern and simplified. The travel website,, has also been redesigned.

“As we collaborate across the University to create greater efficiencies, streamlining the travel process was something we needed to address,” said John Manning, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs and Chief Administration Officer. “With the Concur system already in use by other academic institutions, this offered the ability to benchmark and select a highly compatible system that best fits our institutional needs.”

Key to the success of this project was a core team of administrative leaders: Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Richard McCarty, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Administration Jerry Fife, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Chief Financial Officer Brett Sweet, Manning, and Vice Chancellor for Information Technology John Lutz.

“The new system provides easier booking, better services, fewer approvals, faster reimbursements — everybody wins,” Fife said. “With the green form, we were dealing in an antiquated paper world. It was 1980s technology.”

Fife added that the travel system will be able to report data that is more comprehensive, allowing the University to negotiate better rates with airlines, hotels and other vendors.

The new travel system is an early outcome of the IT Transformation initiative launched in fall 2012. The travel project was completed on an accelerated eight-month timeline from decision to launch, in part made possible by the decision to use Concur, an off-the-shelf system.

“Our travel needs are not unique,” said Eric Kopstain, associate vice chancellor for Finance. “Our ability to develop software for something like travel can never compete with the innovation and talent in that marketplace. By finding the best off-the-shelf solution, we get the power of Concur’s development team along with regular updates, freeing up our internal experts to focus on projects related to our mission where Vanderbilt is uniquely positioned to make a difference.”


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