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Extensity: Going Where ERP Hasn't

Companies have spent billions and billions on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions, in order to streamline finance, HR and manufacturing functions. But there have been a host of problems. There is not much integration across the functional areas. Further, the integration outside the enterprise is minimal. And installing ERP? Well, it can be expensive and time consuming (and, by the way, a boon for consultants).

However, ERP has not been implemented for certain key functions. One is expense reporting. But a company called Extensity is solving the problem.

In fact, for many organizations, expense reporting is a manual process. It is often the case that there is re-keying of data and limited data capture, which can make it difficult to manage spending policies. For example, it costs American Express about $36 to process an expense report using traditional methods.

As for the Extensity Application Suite, it is a full-blown solution that helps companies with expense reporting, travel plans, purchase requisitions, timesheets and billable time management. The technology has error-checking and business rule compliance, such as to program policy administration and enforcement. There is a rich reporting mechanism, which often proves useful in negotiating with vendors. The system also integrates with travel booking systems, credit card feeds and a variety of content services (such as travel sites). In fact, Extensity guarantees its customers that a standard implementation can be setup within 90 days.

The Extensity Application suite is not solely based on a PC platform. Companies can also use it for Palm Pilots, Visors and other handheld devices. Soon, the technology will be available on cell phones.

Extensity has been attracting an impressive customer base. Recently, the company signed a mega deal for Chase Manhattan Bank's 28,000 employees in the U.S. There will also be an international rollout.

So far, the company has been growing rapidly. The sequential growth rate in revenues was 43% to $5.3 million in the past quarter. Losses were $7.7 million, though.

Clearly, Extensity's technology has many great benefits -- cost savings, increased productivity, tracking. According to International Data Corporation, the worldwide market for workforce management applications is expected to grow from $766 million in 1998 to $4 billion in 2003, which is definitely a trend that should continue to spur the growth for Extensity.