The Penn Group of Companies
5 minute read

Real Estate and Construction Firm Reduces Reconciliation Time by 73% with Navan


  • 8

    hours saved per accountant

  • 1.5

    hours saved per expensing employee

  • 62

    hours saved total company-wide

Penn Group Case Study - Man in front of building holding phone
The Penn Group of Companies has nearly 40 years of experience developing, financing, constructing, and managing energy and real estate projects. Until 2024, the company relied on manual and tedious expense management processes that drained time and energy from dozens of employees across offices in the U.S. and Canada.

Penn Group went looking for a solution that could integrate with its three existing corporate card programs and lighten the load for expensing employees in the field and the accounting team in the office. After partnering with Navan, the company was propelled into a new era of efficiency and time savings.

Before Navan

Before Navan, Penn Group relied on time-consuming and labor-intensive manual processes to manage expenses.

“Each employee would take their credit card slips and manually match them to statements I provided them every month,” said Robert Oden Jr., staff accountant at Penn Group. “Then I would enter the information into Excel based on expense categories and upload the entry into our accounting software.”

Employees in the field were required to keep track of receipts until it was time to complete these monthly statements, which took valuable time away from the skilled jobs they were hired to do.

“I would give them 2-3 weeks to complete their statements, and then it would take days for me to reconcile everything at the end of the month. We needed a way to take the burden off the cardholders and our accountants,” said Oden.

It was also important for Penn Group to keep its existing regional and national banking partners that were used by its various entities.

“We already had established relationships and robust limits with them and didn’t want to switch,” said Oden, who added that updating Penn Group’s card information with 300+ vendors would be an administrative nightmare. “We chose Navan because we didn’t want to rock the boat for all our employees who were used to our existing cards.”

Why Navan

Construction and real-estate expenses are notoriously difficult to manage, and with multiple business entities and three separate card programs to reconcile each month, Oden was feeling overburdened.

“It just got to be too much paperwork, and it was too time-consuming for everyone involved,” he said.

The company’s goals in a new expense partner were three-fold:

  • Reduce the administrative burden on both expensing employees and accountants
  • Gain real-time visibility across multiple business entities
  • Keep the company’s existing corporate cards

“I wanted employees to be able to snap a photo or upload receipts and then have the software allocate the line items to specific categories and entities,” said Oden. “Then I needed it to generate a report that could be uploaded to our enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, Yardi.”

In the search, Penn Group found that Navan was the only expense management software that ticked off every item on his wish list.

What is Navan Connect?

Navan Connect is an innovative card-link technology that allows businesses to enjoy all the perks of automated expense management without switching from their current trusted bank cards.

Expenses on Autopilot

From day one using Navan, the expense process improved for both front- and back-office employees at Penn Group. Here’s how.

Penn Group - Monthly Reconciliation Savings Graph

Above: All Penn Group employees now spend about a quarter of the time they used to on monthly expense reconciliation.

From Analog to Automatic

“After giving employees their statements, I used to see everybody getting all the receipts together, crowding up a whole conference table, and matching and batching everything,” said Oden. “Now they just take pictures of their receipts. It takes the burden off of them come month end.”

Because employees can now submit receipts from any device, anywhere, they went from spending 2 hours on monthly expense reports to less than 30 minutes each.

“Navan is intuitive and easy for everyone to adapt to. Not a single person has given me pushback on it. They all understood that this was a benefit,” said Oden. “Our cardholders no longer need to hold onto receipts for a month, and my desk isn’t piling up with hundreds of receipts.”

And on his end, the monthly T&E work has been cut down drastically. “Instead of chasing people down for receipts 45 or 60 days after expenses take place, Navan has made the process a lot more efficient and cleaner.”

Fast, Accurate Coding

Navan’s ability to allocate line items to specific categories and entities has been a huge time-saver at Penn Group.

Take one example: The company employs property managers who purchase items at Home Depot or Lowe’s to complete local repairs. In the past, it was incumbent on the property managers to go back and manually itemize each receipt — a difficult task considering it might be 30 days after a purchase was made.

But with Navan, that’s not an issue. Now employees can instantly itemize each scanned receipt and allocate it to the proper job.

“With Navan, I’ve coded expenses on the back end so they are farmed out to the proper entity, as opposed to waiting until the end of the month to figure out my reconciliation by hand,” said Oden. Penn Group accountants used to spend about 11 hours per month reconciling expenses — now that has been cut down to fewer than 3 hours.

Navan saves me an immense amount of time. During our first monthly close, I pulled the data from Navan and uploaded it to our ERP in less time than it used to take me to distribute everybody’s statement.

Robert Oden Jr.

Staff Accountant

The Future: Building On Success

For Oden, having real-time visibility into finances has been one of his favorite Navan features so far.

“Now we can see in real time what people are spending instead of waiting until the end of the month to check and see if vendors got paid,” said Oden. “The employee gets a notification when the expense goes through, but I can also see what’s happening in real time on the back end.” Overall, Navan has helped employees at Penn Group spend more time delivering projects and focusing on impactful work.

“Instead of being bogged down by charges that have already happened, my time is freed up to focus on big-picture projects, like budgeting and analysis for our construction entities and filing reports,” said Oden.

“Navan has made everybody’s life easier.”


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