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Outsourcing travel expense management

20th Nov 2007
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AIA

Travel management can be a unecessary burden on employees with too much else to do. So why not let the experts handle your company's travel arrangements. Chris Juneau, European product marketing director, Concur, explains why outsourcing travel management can save time and money.

Q. Why should companies outsource their travel expense management?

A. For most companies, the management of travel and entertainment expenses is not a core competency. Indeed, most organisations struggle to manage the myriad of manual processes that occur from the moment a business traveller decides to book travel to the time that they are reimbursed. Best-in-class solutions globally control costs by automating the processes companies use to manage business travel, seamlessly uniting online travel booking with automated expense reporting. With a premier travel booking tool delivering the broadest travel content through an intuitive web-based interface, seamlessly integrated with an easy-to-use on-demand service managing expense reporting, processes are streamlined and approvals become automatic.

This best-in-class unified approach to managing employee spend delivers a 360 degree view into all employee expenses, helping companies globally enforce policies and monitor supplier compliance, while delivering unprecedented control and valuable insight, which reduces operating costs, improves internal controls and provides enhanced visibility and actionable expense analysis.

By combining seamless travel booking with instant expense reporting, the entire T&E process is not only streamlined, but literally eliminates the need for traditional expense reports.

Q. Start-ups and small businesses generally work to a tighter budget and employ far less staff than larger companies so why should they pay extra for the services of companies like Concur?

A. Companies that adopt on-demand services (like those offered by Concur) to help them manage their business processes actually are driving costs out of their businesses. Because most organisations don't have the IT resources required to implement and support enterprise-wide solutions, on-demand services enable any organisation to quickly take advantage of world-class technology at a fraction of the cost of traditional software solutions.

Automating the travel and expense management process using an on-demand service drives hard-pound savings by enabling organisations to streamline their processes while driving higher compliance and adoption. Less time and money is spent on manual processing tasks, so that resources can be re-deployed to either focus on higher-value tasks or use the rich data generated through automation to analyse how to better manage and control employee spend.

And since most organisations would rather focus on mission critical tasks that add value to the organisation, adopting services like Concur's enables them to deploy those resources in a more strategic manner. Thousands of companies – from organisations with less than 100 travellers to seven of the world's 10 largest companies – all trust Concur to help them automate their business processes.

With Concur, employees quickly book the travel they need online, and then enjoy a completely automated expense reporting experience once the trip is complete. Organisations enjoy increased efficiency and the elimination of tedious manual processes and paper receipts.
With an affordable, one-click on-demand solution to traditional paper-driven expense reporting, efficiency's increased, resources freed, and the focus stays on the business. Concur helps organisations enforce business policies while delivering enhanced visibility into all aspects of a company's business travel. Because an organisation's processes and policies are built in, every choice employees make for travel and expenses is the right one.

Q. How does the Concur solution integrate with companies' back-office, ERP and payroll systems?

A. Integrating a Concur service into an organisation's existing infrastructure is made easy by our wide range of experience. Concur successfully works with clients using every major ERP, finance and payroll system. Our long list of technology, systems integration and travel service partners is a testament to our experience integrating our clients' back-office technology into one smooth-running Employee Spend Management service.

So whether an organisation is looking for a solution to compliment its existing robust ERP capabilities or an organisation is simply interested in a stand-alone solution that won't disrupt current processes, Concur can make it all happen within any budget, more quickly than many thought possible.

Q. How has modern technology benefited business travellers?

A. Business travel always begins with booking travel and ends with filling out an expense report. And now, technology has finally brought travel and expense together, improving the overall experience for business travellers. With Concur's powerful yet easy-to-use technology, the traditional expense report is virtually eliminated.

With just one click, travellers book their travel and their expense report is automatically filled out with the power of e-receipts. Leveraging Smart Expenses™ to match itinerary, corporate card and e-receipt data, Concur virtually eliminates the traditional expense report, making One Touch Business Travel™ a reality. And, now, because of this automated, on-demand process, employees are reimbursed for their expenses within a matter of days.

Business travel has never been easier.

Q. Carrying out an audit of employees' business travel is one way companies can ensure travel costs are kept to a reasonable level. What are the key steps involved?

A. Every business trip begins with booking travel and ends with filing an expense report. The key steps organisations can use to audit their employee spend management process begins with using an integrated and automated travel and expense solution. An automated, on-demand service streamlines the travel booking and expense reporting process, enabling employees to quickly book travel and create their expense reports, and supervisors, A/P managers, auditors and senior management to easily review, approve, process and audit expense reports.

Best-in-class auditing provides the appropriate level of control, helping organisations accurately report and properly classify expenses in accordance with corporate and regulatory policies. With the power of an automated Employee Spend Management solution in place, an organisation will have the information necessary to accurately report and properly classify expenses in accordance with corporate and regulatory policies, while cutting processing costs. To reach the maximum benefit from an automated audit solution, the key is to leverage paperless receipt validations, designed to process and audit receipts based on an organisations policies and preferences.

Choosing a level of audit that's right for the organisation includes selecting any audit level, defining specific groups or individuals to be audited at 100 percent or excluding certain individuals and groups from the auditing process altogether.

Powerful auditing should save an organisation both time and money, and increase the efficiency of the expense reporting process by:

  • Reducing your operating costs for auditing expense reports
  • Assuring control and compliance of the expense reporting process
  • Reducing potential fraud by proactively catching it before employees are paid
  • Rapidly auditing expense reports to speed employee reimbursement

Q. How should companies go about formulating an employee travel policy?

For most organisations, the purpose of a travel policy is to control business travel costs and provide employees with acceptable spend limits. But, enforcing these travel policies is often where organisations fall short.

An automated travel booking and expense reporting process enables any organisation to provide powerful online corporate travel booking capabilities to their employees - tailored specifically to an organisation’s travel policies and preferred suppliers. With robust business rules combined with automated pre-trip approval, an automated, best-in-class Employee Spend Management solution always ensures consistent travel policy enforcement.
User-adoption is another facet in enforcing a travel policy. World class travel booking solutions allow for minimal employee effort and an intuitive user interface, so travellers can quickly book the most complex of trips with a few clicks, increasing user adoption significantly. By presenting business travellers with a wide selection of travel options based specifically on an organisation’s travel policies, automated travel and expense management solutions help travellers make smart decisions, which leads to increased rates of policy compliance, which ultimately drives down costs.

Additionally, by securely capturing accurate data at the time of booking, and providing comprehensive controls, best-in-class solutions actually provide organisations with the visibility and control to help ensure that travel and expense process comply with both corporate policies and government requirements. In fact, through the power of Smart Expenses, companies can focus their auditing on only those expenses that are outside of policy. That means that the vast majority of expense that are within policy are essentially "pre-audited" before they are even submitted, making the process even more streamlined and reliable.

Q. How do you believe that the current concerns about the environment have impacted on the way business people travel?

A. Sustainable practice is an area that many organisations are beginning to focus on. Automating the process of booking travel and managing expenses is the first step for organisations truly concerned with the impact that business travel has on the environment. In addition to the obvious benefits of reducing paper and eliminating wasteful processes, automation also provides organisations with the data they need to truly begin to understand the needs of their business travellers. With this enhanced visibility, organisations can start to identify ways in which they can limit their impact and address the environmental concerns of their business travellers.

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