Enterprise software firm 8common has announced that two federal government departments are now using its travel and expense management product, Expense8, in a bid to achieve greater transparency on the costs associated with public service staff travel.
The federal Treasury has gone live with the Expense8 travel and expense management software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, while the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is using Expense8 and planning the rollout of 8common's travel module. The company said the integrations will result in the streamlining of accounting, reporting, tax compliance, and governance of employee generated expenses and corporate travel bookings across both departments, respectively.
Speaking with ZDNet, CEO of the Australian Securities Exchange-listed organisation Nick Gonios said the direction 8common is heading towards is one that sees his company take up more of a partnership role with government, rather than the company simply supplying a product.
"Some government agencies and departments have got different employment agreements and depending on the policies around those employment agreements that are being negotiated at an enterprise level, they actually have certain expectations about what people can spend and how much government money they can spend for their work-related activities," Gonios said.
"We are very aligned with how government operates from a policy point of view -- they do differ and that's the challenge we've got. The fact that they are different isn't an issue for us, as it's just the way they operate."
According to Gonios, a strength of 8common is that its product suite is heavily configurable, allowing government departments to tailor policies as required.
"Customising software becomes very dangerous in the long-term because customising it for a particular customer starts creating a gap as the product goes in a certain direction and becomes very difficult for version updates and so forth," he said, explaining that it is easier to execute if the product is built with customisation in mind from day one.
Gonios said 8common's approach has seen it establish a commercial relationship with Treasury above and beyond just being a supplier.
"Working with Treasury as a provider of our product to all of its entities is something that's quite different to what is happening in federal government and it's quite exciting," he said. "It opens up a great window of opportunities for us to expand across federal government."
"At a federal government level, I have been really impressed with the way it is pushing towards a shared services model across the board. The federal government is enabling five or six different departments to become their own shared services provider within federal government to other agencies which is quite unique globally in terms of how government operates."
8common picked up a three-year contract with the New South Wales Department of Industry in October for the provision of its own travel and expense management solution.
Similarly, 8common also has a contract with the New South Wales Department of Education that Gonios said his company won due to the fact it was willing to work with the department in a collaborative way.
Other government customers of 8common's include the federal Department of Finance, the whole of the Northern Territory government, Transport for NSW, and the NSW Police.
"We've been around for a while and it's proven and tested that we can bring a lot of good innovation to government," Gonios said. "We're heavily focusing on helping the government innovate."