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SAP Concur Employee
SAP Concur Employee

NextGen Expense User Experience (UX) FAQ

Hello everyone. My name is Ken Coleman. I’m a Senior User Experience Designer with SAP Concur and I work primarily on the Web experience for Expense.  


Since the migration to the NextGen Experience for Concur Expense, we’ve seen some questions related to the user experience that seem to be asked more often than others. I thought I would take this opportunity to answer some of these questions in a post so that they are widely available to everyone here. 


Why did you upgrade NextGen UX for End Users but not for Approvers, Processors or Admins?  

When we initially looked at the experiences of each of these user groups, they all had areas of improvement we saw we could make, but it was the experience for end users (i.e., report submitters) that stood out as the most in need of improvement. While those who frequently use Concur Expense found the UX to be efficient, new and infrequent users, who are the majority of Concur users, found it very difficult to use. In fact, it was often so confusing to them they would simply fail to successfully create and submit their expense reports. 


This in turn created a pain point for administrators and processors as they were the ones end users would reach out to for help. In many cases, administrators and processors ended up simply creating and submitting their end users’ expense reports for them. It was because of these reasons that we decided to take on redesigning the end user UX first as this seemed to address issues for not only end users, but administrators and processors as well.  


As for the other user groups, we are currently working on redesigning the user experience for Approvers, Processors, and Administrators. To that end, Approver is in Product Direction on our external roadmap, and many improvements to the Administrator area for our Standard customers have already been released with more to come.  


Why weren’t all features launched at once?  

Great question. That was our original intention. Though as we began working on redesigning the “front-end” (i.e., the user experience), we realized our back-end infrastructure would not support the needs of our customers in terms of security, stability, and performance into the future. It needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. 


This took a lot of engineering resources that would have otherwise been dedicated to updating end user features. Once we realized this, we switched our approach to a constant release model where we would focus on redesigning, building, and releasing the most used features first. This model allowed us to get the greatest value into the hands of the largest number of customers on a new, more secure, stable, and performant platform in the timeliest manner possible. 


Who designed this update?  

A team of researchers and designers at SAP Concur spearheaded the design of the NextGen Experience for Concur Expense. We looked at many sources to ensure we had the most complete set of information about our users’ needs possible. This included help from disciplines across the company ranging from engineers and data analysts to sales, implementation, and product support staff. We also conducted many rounds of user testing and gathered feedback from early adopters and from current and potential customers at events like our annual Fusion conference. 


Then there are the various feedback channels both administrators and end users have to let us know of difficulties they are having or ideas they have for improvements to the experience. We take all of this and more into account as we continually work to improve the user experience to make it as easy and intuitive to use as possible. 


Can I switch back to Legacy UX? 

No. Legacy Concur Expense was built upon Microsoft’s Active Server Pages (ASP) technology platform. At the time it was a state-of-the-art platform and served our users’ needs well. As with any platform, it has inherent limitations. As time went on, these limitations kept us from moving forward and providing the kind of experience our customers and users expect of a world-class company. 


One of the biggest limitations was the lack of support for many interaction patterns that would allow us to create a product that would meet accessibility standards. In addition to these user interface limitations, the Legacy UX also tied into a back-end infrastructure that had become increasingly fragile over the years.  


We have built the NextGen Experience for Concur Expense on new back-end microservices and front-end platform technologies. These improvements allow us to create user experiences that are more performant, reliable, secure, and support accessibility in ways that ASP and our monolithic infrastructure never could.  


Why were the icons removed? 

Quite simply there were two reasons for removing the icons: usability and accessibility. While the icons shown on the list of expenses were a quick, glanceable way to see what had been done or needed to be done with each expense, they were highly confusing for novice users. 


Some icons indicated a necessary task is complete, others indicated a task is incomplete, while others were simply informational and not an indication of any action needed. Hovering over them provided a rich set of additional data, but this functionality was not accessible by keyboard only users nor was it very discoverable by novice users. 


Many customers have commented that the different colored credit card icons were a quick way for them to identify which card was used, but this again was information that wasn’t usable for vision impaired users. This includes not only users relying on a keyboard and screen reader to use Concur Expense, but also those with low vision or color blindness, which affects roughly 1 in 12 men, and 1 in 200 women.  


It was these reasons that led us to find a different, more discoverable, more accessible means of providing this same information to users. At the same time, we aimed to simplify the messaging of the Legacy icons into one, unified alert icon. If any actions are needed, this one accessible icon will let users know. If a situation prevents a user from submitting their report, they will see a red error icon. If there is a situation that does not prevent them from submitting their report but will likely delay their reimbursement, they will see a yellow warning icon. Clicking the icon will show all issues they need to address before submitting their report. Having no icons indicates that the report can be submitted and that there shouldn’t be any issues with approval or reimbursement. 


The other Legacy icons, such as payment source, itinerary, attendees, and allocations are now text links shown next to the most relevant information on the expense line item. The fact that they are text links makes them accessible to all users and helps indicate that they can be clicked to provide additional information. 


Why was drag and drop removed? 

Interestingly, drag and drop was never a feature we designed, documented, or supported. It just so happened that the platform our Legacy Expense UX was built upon supported drag and drop in some areas of the product. Unbeknownst to us, users discovered this and began using it and loving it. When early adopters of our NextGen Experience tried doing this, it didn’t work, and they asked us what happened to drag and drop. 


At first, we were a bit confused as to what they meant as it was not a documented feature. Once they showed us how they were using it in the Legacy UX, we instantly saw the value in intentionally adding this functionality to our products. That said, it wasn’t a financial integration feature that was preventing customers from migrating to the NextGen Experience and therefore was added to the end of our feature parity roadmap. As soon as we had parity for all the critical Concur Expense features between the Legacy and NextGen UX, we set about building and releasing drag and drop.  


We’re happy to report that drag and drop will be available to users in two phases. Phase one has been released and is currently available, allowing users to drag receipt images from their computer into Concur Expense. Phase two will allow users to drag and drop certain items from one area in the product to another area. Please refer to the monthly release notes to see when phase two will be available. 

Occasional Member - Level 3

I agree with others on this thread that the "next gen UI" is not that great for Road Warriors or Administrators. I have been supporting the Concur Expense product since 2015 and fully train my users, which means I am having to re-train my users since the UI changes in Oct 2022. This has not been easy and has been time consuming as I have over 20,000 end users. I was never contacted for input before the changes happened so was not able to offer my opinion on what was used and what could be approved. 

My team relied heavily on the 6-digit Legacy Report Key when troubleshooting because the report ID is too long to use easily. This number was on my expense headers so we could easily grab it, now my users have to "print" the report to find it which adds additional steps and frustration. We can see the new "report number" when in the expense report, however, that field is not part of the Expense Processor queue so it can't be queried on when looking up reports. I realize the "report key" will eventually be replaced by "report number" which is fine but until that happens the "report key" should still be available everywhere that it has always been. The change from "report key" to "report number" will affect the SAE (have not seen a date for the change yet) export which means that my IT team will need to make some changes before receiving the changed SAE before the "report key" is eliminated. This is not a simple undertaking for my company.


We also use the CBC (Card statement) process; the header is no longer populated with report date range in the date range fields so custom reports are not working correctly. I have also found that my custom billing reports stopped including the Card statements and will need to be added or I need to run 2 reports to verify my usage matches the Concur invoices.

I find all of this annoying and in my opinion, there was no need to make these type of changes as they do not affect the "novice" users. 

Concur removed the end user's ability to see who their expense approver is when they submit the report which is something my users paid attention to and now can't see at the time of submission. While that might be minor to some companies, we have manager moves often and my users cannot see if the approver is correct before submitting the expense report.

These are just a few of the things that I have run into that are time consuming to resolve or retrain.

Thank you.

Occasional Member - Level 1

Just going to put in my .02$ and agree with every other commenter.


The update is horrible!!!!   Every single interaction, menu, option, task, etc. is an order of magnitude more difficult to use and and more obscure to find, than the prior UI. A good portion of the new features simply don't work (like drag and drop of receipts, back button).

I cannot fathom how you got ANY feedback from any real user, that led you guys to design this disaster.   I suspect (much like most software programming these days)  that 1) customer feedback is only solicited from favored 'customers' (probably by mangers etc. that never use the tool, or internal stake-holders). 2) filtered through some PM person who does not understand the feedback, nor software, and thus cannot effectively relay requirements to the developers. 3) Developers who never use, or even know what the product does... they just follow the script laid out by the PM. 4)No software QA, so every release is full of bugs. 5)everything if farmed out... so no accountability.


Working in Tech.. I see it every day, with almost every large software provider. Quality and usability is terrible, and gets worse every release.

Change for no reason other than to change. Software for software's sake.

Community Manager
Community Manager

@dp1 we appreciate you sharing your opinion and I'm certainly not going to try and persuade you one way or the other, but I do need to say that we did work directly with customers on usability of the new UI. They were on a webinar with our development and user experience teams running through the basic tasks of expense reporting and providing feedback in real-time. Their feedback was candid and pointed out things that were not ideal and could be improved on. These webinars were not geared to solicit only positive feedback. They were geared to hear from real users and get their input on what improvements could be made. 


I just wanted to make sure that you knew we did consult with customers and those who use the tool, not just site admins. 

Thank you,
Kevin Dorsey
SAP Concur Community Manager
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Occasional Member - Level 2

First, I would like to say that I appreciate you trying to improve Concur Expense, but we did not ask for this. What a learning curve for the end users. Usually, upgrades are excepted without a great deal of push back.  Before investing in the next upgrade, please ask. Thank you.

Occasional Member - Level 3

I'll be the odd one here and say how much I love the new UI.  Before the update was mandatory, we had all our ASCs test the UI, along with a group of superusers.  The feedback was mostly positive (easier to navigate, updates were self-explanatory).  The negative feedback was surrounding why the update was necessary, and this was from those who resist change (if it ain't broke, don't fix it thinkers).  My only complaint is doing away with the ability to forward Outlook meeting notices to capture attendees.  

New Member - Level 1

I appreciate the explanation regarding the decision to upgrade the Next Gen experience UX for end users first. It's crucial to prioritize improving the experience for new and infrequent users who may struggle with the system. This approach will benefit not only end users but also administrators and processors who often assist them."