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Management

October 14, 2014

Benefits of a T&E solution

 

The same question is always asked when thinking about managing employees’ travel expenses: why make a change? The “Excel” system works just fine, and employees are paid.

These concerns are valid, but if we take the time to analyze the current situation, the results can sometimes be surprising. Below, we will look at the major elements that support this thought process as well as the main benefits they relate to.

The decision to apply a solution to manage expenses and travel is generally supported by upper management in one or several of the following elements:

  • The organization’s desire to have an efficient and fair management tool for managing expenses that is common to all employees and adapted to the real state of affairs and to a changing economic context
  • To reduce the administrative burden associated with using several tools
  • Supporting decision-makers and employees by providing them with more efficient tools
  • Informing and applying coherent and uniform policies
  • Reducing risks of fraud or error
  • Making the process automatic from beginning to end
  • Systematic management of controllable elements of the travel policy in all expense reports
  • Electronic approval for expenses and controlling the approver’s identity
  • Access to the system at any time and from anywhere via internet (without VPN access)

These main principles will drive the thought process about needs with respect to organization. However, properly understanding the current situation will greatly help in defining the benefits that will support the business plan. If the desire to revise the travel and expense management process does not result from a crisis situation, an analysis of the following elements may be a good starting point to understand the state of affairs.

Elements of reflection Comments
Mechanics of booking and purchasing (flights, hotels, cars) Is there a travel agency in place? Do we have a centralized online booking tool?
Preparing the report
  • What is the source? (Excel; PDF;  others)
  • How much time is spent by employees and administrators to produce an approval?
  • What are the most common errors (poor “GL”, faulty coding, etc.)
  • Do the physical reports have to travel physically? (by FedEx etc.)
Managing and validating receipts
  • Do we have a clear policy for managing receipts?
  • Who validates that receipts are present and comply with the claimed expense?
Approval process
  • How are approvers monitored? (the right person signing at the right level)
Accounting for reports for payment
  • How much time is spent accounting for expense reports in the ERP or the financial system?
  • What is the level of errors and reclassification?
Visibility and breakdown of employee trips and expenses
  • What is the level of visibility available presently?
Controlling the travel and expense management policy
  • Do we have a policy, and if so, is it up to date?
  • What means do we have to validate and monitor compliance with the policy?
Processing taxes
  • Are taxes processed, and if so, how? (e.g. flights)
Managing credit cards
  • What is the management and reconciliation process for joint credit cards?

 

Once the current situation is properly understood, and analysis of the target and of benefits can begin on a clear path.

The following list includes certain thought processes that will help to define qualitative and quantitative benefits.

Travel

  • Unused tickets
  • Better negotiation withtravel suppliers with a better visibility
    • Reduced average ticket price
    • Reduced hotel costs (enforcing lowest cost room)
    • Increased use of preferred suppliers
    • Reduced transactions fees (from higher adoption)

Expense

  • Improve spend management by increasing policy enforcement and providing spend visibility to managers
  • Reduced audits (based on built-in audit rules)
  • Reduced fraud (duplicate company meals, expense items, hotel stays, meal attendees; expenses near receipt limit)
  • Increased policy compliance (adoption, travel expenses, booked vs. actual, hotels exceeding negotiated rate, identify top violators)
  • Error reduction (duplicate submission, duplicate attendees, missing receipts)
  • Improved accrual (reduced time to pay both card and cash to employees; visibility into unreported card charges)
  • Spend (excessive car mileage, ancillary fees, internet usage; bundled expenses like minibar/movie, car refueling, GBS, insurance)
  • Increase front-office productivity by saving time for travelers and managers
  • Expense reports are filled out automatically with electronic receipt data before the traveler returns from their trip.
  • Policy violations are flagged, so managers know what items need close review.

Mobile apps make it easy for travelers to prepare, submit and approve expense reports from anywhere, freeing up time at the office and reducing expense report cycle times.



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By Jonathan Tremblay Vice-président livraison et écosystème
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