Case Study – Universal Music


UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP (Entertainment Sector)

Universal Music is the world’s largest music company. Operating in over forty countries, the group has expanded over a number of years, partly through increased revenues, but also as a result of international mergers and acquisitions.

Inevitably the group found itself supporting a variety of legacy finance and reporting systems. For expense management, the result of this was insufficient central control and a lack of performance visibility.


In 2009 UMG established a project to update and harmonise their various systems in a number of key areas, especially those affecting control of expenditure.

The Key Expense Management Issues & Challenges for UMG

  • To apply Policy Control across a wide demographic
  • Achieve Employee Tax compliance across a variety of tax jurisdictions
  • Maximise VAT recovery, locally and cross-border
  • Comply with local ‘Bribery Acts’ as well as SOX
  • Integrate with multiple ERPs and charts of account in the short term
  • Establish a common standard across all territories
  • Enable central processing and straightforward allocation of expenses to projects
  • Gather accurate and worthwhile management and financial information

A wide range of expense management suppliers with international capability were approached from which ExpenSys was identified as being uniquely equipped to satisfy the necessary criteria.

The initial implementation in the United Kingdom was completed within six weeks, on time and on budget and was immediately well received at all levels of the business. ExpenSys replaced Concur for the US business in January 2013, having already been rolled out in all the major European jurisdictions as well as Canada, Brazil and Australia.

In each territory, using the standard templates, ExpenSys was configured to handle not only language and currency, but also local business rules, employee tax, corporation tax and VAT. With no additional or ‘bespoke’ programming required in these areas implementations were timely with no additional or unexpected cost.

New users, with associated profit and cost centres, are automatically downloaded from SAP every day together with over 1,000,000 project code elements and all international exchange rates.

After processing, finished data is exported to SAP three times a day to accommodate payment across time zones. All expense items are automatically allocated to account codes in the SAP GL, and recoverable VAT, local and cross-border, is automatically identified with no calculations required by either claimants or administrators.

Implementation is now under way in Japan with the remainder of South America and South East Asia to follow.

What are the benefits of ExpenSys for Universal Music Group?

Claimants and Approvers SAVE TIME:

Expense claims are simple to complete. Users do not require knowledge of business policy, account codes or tax rules – they supply only information they readily understand. Everybody knows the whereabouts of every claim at every step, so there are no unnecessary phone calls.

PROCESSING TIME has been minimised and RE-KEYING has been eliminated:

Because of the unique way that ExpenSys collects data at point of entry, processing time is significantly reduced and finance personnel are freed for more productive tasks. For example, expense items that result in multiple nominal codes (e.g. hotels, subsistence, staff or business entertainment) are automatically and accurately allocated at the point of entry – and then automatically exported to the GL, thereby eliminating re-keying.


Recoverable VAT (local and cross-border), is identified and automatically calculated at point of entry. Claimants do not need to assign, calculate, or even enter amounts for VAT except in exceptional circumstances. When roll-out is complete, it is estimated that close to €1m of cross-border VAT will be automatically identified without the involvement of third parties.


ExpenSys is tax intelligent software that understands and applies tax compliance seamlessly and in the background. All the information to control mileage thresholds, company car rates, entertainment, PIE, PSA and P11D is collected without users needing to make decisions beyond recalling what they did and with whom. Finally, the company is able to report group-wide expenditure on a single platform.

MARK OAKLEY (Financial Applications Manager)

“ExpenSys is very popular amongst our user communities due to the ease of use and the speed of throughput from initial entry to payment;

It is popular amongst our Finance communities due to the significant reduction in workload around coding and controlling complex Tax issues;

It is popular in our IT communities due to the speed of support and thoroughness of development.

All of this has been achieved across multiple territories in a controlled manner with no major issues and we would recommend it to anyone.”