Maybe you’re looking for an easier way to manage your company’s travel expenses. Admitting that your existing system isn’t working for you is the first step! Once you’ve received the green light to invest in a new solution, it’s time to explore the marketplace for the perfect fit. Making a technology decision takes time, and adopting new business practices isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. So where can you begin?
Ask These Questions Before Jumping In
You have a lot riding on your new accounting solution: you need it to help control your costs, enforce your travel policy, streamline your administrative processes, better serve your internal customers—and more. Set yourself up for success by asking questions that are most relevant to today’s B2B software buyers:
- Does the solution provide anytime, anywhere access?
A state-of-the-industry solution fits seamlessly into the way people work today. That means it has to work across devices and around the world, providing on-demand access, 24/7. Today’s cloud-based expense management solutions enable business travelers to create, edit, and submit expense reports while they’re on the go; they give the C-Suite visibility into travel spending; and they put approvals at user’s fingertips.
- How user-friendly is the interface?
Customer experience is key in today’s digital world. Business users inside the office and on the road expect their web-based tools to be intuitive, providing easy (and fast) navigation. Expense management platforms are designed to make your workflow less complicated, so make sure the user experience is clean and simple, too.
- What’s the functionality of mobile platform? Business travelers—and the administrators back at the office—rely on their mobile devices to stay productive. When assessing expense management solutions, you’ll find that the leading providers offer powerful mobile capabilities like digital receipt management. And make sure the mobile app works on various platforms including iOS, Android, Blackberry 10, and Windows Phone.
- Does it fit our unique needs?
Every system works differently, just as every business traveler and travel manager has unique preferences. It’s important that your expense management solution works the way you work—or improves your process in just the right way. It needs to support your corporate expense policy, accommodate your required user controls, and enable an easy flow through your report approval process. With the flexible solutions on the market today, you don’t have to compromise on your list of must-haves.
- Are a range of configurations available?
Most software doesn’t meet every customer’s needs straight out-of-the-box. That said, not every expense management solution provider is able to provide the range of integration configurations you may need to work effectively. Make sure you find a partner committed to meeting your feature requests with a team that’s responsive to your unique needs. They should be ready and willing to turn features on/off as well as configure software components to they work within your specifications.
- Will the solution integrate well with our existing systems?
This question deserves a few spots on this list! Fool-proof system integrations are critical to the success of your new expense management solution. If you want your solution to function as expected—and work smoothly within your existing ecosystem—your provider needs to ensure seamless integrations with your accounting/ERP system, CRM, payroll systems, as well as all types of credit cards your company may use as part of your travel program.
- What resources are required for implementation?
Chances are good you want your new system to be up and running quickly so you can begin saving time and money right away. Some solutions, like in-house server-based software, tend to have a longer implementation schedule—and require more IT support—than cloud-based SaaS alternatives. Whichever option you choose, leverage your travel expense management solution provider to shorten your time to go live.
- What about scheduled downtime?
You’ll want to know how often your new software is updated and what, if any, impact the updates will have on your system’s performance. Some cloud-based travel expense management software is updated daily with new or enhanced features or changes that improve its usability, but the updates happen automatically while your data is synced with the master server—or with less than even 5 minutes per month of required system downtime.
- What type of user support does the solution offer?
Finally, find out how much support and training is offered by service providers to end users and administrators—and how much of it is offered free of charge? It’s vital that your team knows how to make the most of their travel expense management solution, and you need the peace of mind that any issues will be addressed quickly. Be sure your selected vendor gives you the level of support you need to maintain your operations.
You need to be sure your solution works for your admin staff, managers, and employees—while working within your budget and the bandwidth of your internal IT department. So take enough time to assess all of your alternatives and ask the right questions. When it comes down to making a decision—and then using your solution—you’ll be glad you did.