If your New Year’s Resolution is to take expense management to the next level, it makes perfect sense to consider a cloud-based solution. Sure, you can purchase and install new hardware and software and engage your IT team elbow-deep in deploying a traditional in-house system, but when “plugging-in” to web-hosted software is so easy, why not give it a try?
If your New Year’s Resolution is to take expense management to the next level, it makes perfect sense to consider a cloud-based solution. Sure, you can purchase and install new hardware and software and engage your IT team elbow-deep in deploying a traditional in-house system, but when “plugging-in” to web-hosted software is so easy, why not give it a try? Here are 5 reasons the cloud might be the best place to manage your expense reports:
1) You’ll get up and running quicklyWhen subscribing to a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, there’s nothing to install or maintain on your internal servers. Users simply connect to the Internet to access a shared web-based infrastructure, hosted by your expense management service provider. This means a fast implementation, comprised of configuring a handful of settings to meet your company’s needs, and training users so that your administrators and travelers can get to work. Plus, since your SaaS vendor handles all system administration behind-the-scenes, everyone can keep working without surprises and with virtually no unscheduled downtime (maybe five minutes, tops!).
2) Works the way you work, only betterThanks to flexible APIs enabling highly configurable (and seamless) integrations, cloud-based solutions put everything in one place. Your team will have full web services integration with your other cloud financial management and accounting applications, ERP systems, travel management systems, payroll systems and other pieces that enhance your expense program, such as Google maps, corporate credit card feeds and direct deposit systems. With a process this synced and automated, you’ll be amazed at how much time you’ll save without many of the manual tasks you used to perform, like making multiple entries. See also: 4 Steps to a Successful System Integration and 3 Reasons to Automate Your Expense Reporting Process
3) It’s always available with anytime, anywhere accessibilityCloud-based systems run 24/7, and since they’re web-based, road warriors can access their tools and reports from their hotel room, car or customer site. And if they’re working offline (e.g. mid-flight), their updates will sync with he SaaS servers once they’re re-connected to the Internet. Even administrators can take advantage of on-demand availability to stay productive when they work from home, or are otherwise on the go. You might also enjoy: Automated Expense Report Processing Soothes Pain Points for Business Travelers and AP Administrators
4) You’ll be ready to mobilizeThat’s right—all of this on-the-go functionality is made possible through mobile apps that make your expense management software available at your fingertips. Cloud-based services “live” on the Internet, so any web-enabled device becomes a productivity tool. Consider the process bottlenecks you’ll eliminate (stacks of paper expense reports sitting on desks waiting to be signed, for one) when everyone in the approvals chain can keep the process moving along using the devices they carry in their pockets around the clock.
5) It keeps getting better.As we’ve said, your expense management SaaS vendor is in charge of the system’s technology, keeping everything up and running, up-to-date and offering the latest and greatest. Their commitment to the continuous improvement of their software results in frequent enhancements to existing features, and the introduction of brand new features. A good SaaS provider knows what customers want and need and their development teams are in constant pursuit of delivering a comfortable and successful user experience.
Nexonia Expenses: A Mature, Agile, SaaS PlatformOur goal is to make Nexonia Expenses and its mobile app everything that you need a cloud-based expense management solution to be: reliable, functional, easy-to-use, and always improving. Is our SaaS solution a good fit for your organization? Let’s see if we can help you get 2016 off to a great start. 5 Reasons to Take Expense Report Management to the Cloud in 2016 Gallery
If your New Year’s Resolution is to take expense management to the next level, it makes perfect sense to consider a cloud-based solution. Sure, you can purchase and install new hardware and software and engage your IT team elbow-deep in deploying a traditional in-house system, but when “plugging-in” to web-hosted software is so easy, why not give it a try?
Taking advantage of supplier credit terms—paying invoices as close to their due dates as possible—is one strategy accounts payable departments employ to help manage cash flow. But when it comes to reimbursing employees for T&E expenses, this practice might not be the best policy. In fact, there are clear arguments supporting the transition from manual to automatic expense report processing and payments. These arguments can give hope to AP administrators who want to provide better internal customer service while simplifying their workflow.
Facing Down the ConsequencesWeaknesses in a company’s travel expense reporting processes can affect timely reimbursement of expenses and lead to employee dissatisfaction and decreased productivity. Unwanted “side effects” of an inefficient expense reimbursement process may include:
- Employees waiting for reimbursements have to delay paying personal bills
- Employees miss out on professional development opportunities because of payment bottlenecks
- Valuable employees who frequently travel for work may search for greener pastures if their unpaid expense reports consistently pile up
- Company image and employee morale can suffer, dragging corporate culture down with it
The Manual Hold-UpWhen working with a manual expense reporting process, preparing a report for submission is painstaking and time-consuming. Employees need to collect receipts and piece them together, enter expense information into a spreadsheet or other software program, and most likely scan, print, mail or fax a stack of documents to their Finance department. Once the expense report makes it to accounts payable, it undergoes its next set of manual logjams. Someone in AP has to check the materials for accuracy, make sure the necessary receipts and documents are attached, chase after any missing items, and send it through the approvals pipeline. Here, the paperwork can sit on managers’ desks for as long as it takes to get reviewed and signed. Eventually, the report is manually entered into the accounts payable system for final payment processing.
Automate for Faster Payments and Happier EmployeesAn automated expense reporting system like Nexonia Expenses streamlines the entire process, enabling business travelers, their managers and back office team to digitize virtually every step of expense reporting. Reports can be created, approved and processed through a web interface or mobile app. From the get-go, all documentation is automatically loaded into the report—image-captures of receipts and even credit card transactions that are synced through system integration. Employee reports are submitted sooner, with the required supporting documentation intact. Approvals and back-end processing run more smoothly and quickly, and payments are issued significantly sooner. AP departments are busy enough processing supplier payments and doing their part to keep the financial wheels of the company turning. Employee T&E expense reimbursements don’t need to stand in the way or take the backseat to an organization’s mission-critical B2B payments. When there are tools available to automate the process, there’s no reason to struggle with manual inefficiencies, or dissatisfied employees—and that includes the AP team. Stay tuned for more insights into the trends impacting the AP workflow.Automated Expense Report Processing Soothes Pain Points for Business Travelers and AP Administrators Gallery
Automated Expense Report Processing Soothes Pain Points for Business Travelers and AP Administrators
Taking advantage of supplier credit terms—paying invoices as close to their due dates as possible—is one strategy accounts payable departments employ to help manage cash flow. But when it comes to reimbursing employees for T&E expenses, this practice might not be the best policy.
Expense report fraud is likely a problem you know exists but tend to minimize. It starts small but grows. And unless you have the right controls in place, it can cost you—a lot. According to global financial advisory firm Stout Risius Ross, an estimated $1 billion is lost each year to fraudulent expense reimbursement. Just how big of a problem is expense report fraud? Read What Expense Report Fraudsters Don’t Want You To Know. Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize this expensive form of trickery at your company. Focus on these tactics to keep employees on the same page and gain control over your expense report process…before it’s too late: Implement a Formal T&E Policy A clear, up-to-date travel and expense policy is the backbone of fraud prevention. This document details what expenses qualify as reimbursable and what you can expect by way of expense documentation and submission deadlines. It also outlines the consequences for non-compliance and eliminates gray areas for employees and managers who are reviewing and approving expense reports. See 4 Must-Haves For A Winning Expense Report Policy for inspiration. Effectively Communicate Your Policy Keeping your T&E policy in front of employees at all levels can help you minimize oversight and even reduce unintentional policy misuse (do the weekly burrito runs really qualify for reimbursement?). It also helps build a “culture of compliance” within your organization, sending the message that integrity and honesty in all activities is expected—and that employee company-dollar spending behavior is, in fact, being monitored. Hold Managers Accountable—All of Them Think of management as your first line of defense in the war against fraudulent disbursements. Those in the approvals chain should be discouraged from blindly OK-ing expense reports—and should be empowered to ask questions and take action if they stumble upon a suspect expense. They should also be a primary driver of frequent T&E policy reviews with employees in their charge. Keep in mind that expense reimbursement schemes are most frequent in executive/upper management, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ 2014 Global Fraud Study. It’s not that members of the C-suite are “untouchables,” but they often have the access and authority required to skirt the system. This means that careful documentation reviews need to take place—and be enforced—at all levels, and ideally, by multiple sets of eyes. Audit Past Expense Reports On a regular basis, especially in the beginning of your fraud-minimizing journey, review a handful of past expense reports. Take note of suspicious out of pocket expenses (i.e. those with missing receipts or categorized as “miscellaneous”), look out for duplicate transactions (two employees expensing the same client lunch, for example), and identify any flat-out fictitious transactions. Aside from giving you insight into employee spending patterns, you can gain useful intelligence on weak spots in your T&E policy and reimbursement process. Even if everything looks on the level, you might uncover opportunities to better communicate policies with your workforce. Set Limits on Corporate Cards Don’t forget that most corporate credit cards enable you to define where, when and how much a card-carrying employee can spend. If you’re not taking advantage of these controls yet, it might be time to look into it. Setting parameters can help you in with T&E budgeting and forecasting while keeping employees’ spending in-line with your policies. Automate Your Expense Reporting Process Not only does software take the manual hassle out of the process for both employees and administrators, but it comes with built-in controls that make enforcing policy complying easier. Solutions like Nexonia Expenses are tailored to your company’s specifications, from custom expense categories and documentation requirements to approval chains. They reduce the risk of fraudulent expenses slipping through the cracks by flagging expenses that don’t fit into configured parameters—like a charge made at a theme park, for example. Plus, corporate credit card integrations and tools like receipt image capture help streamline expense report transaction matching where manual, human errors can create snags. Learn about how Nexonia Expenses can help your company make expense fraud a concern of the past - book a customized online demo.Expense Report Rx: Steps to Stop Fraudsters In Their Tracks Gallery
Expense report fraud is likely a problem you know exists but tend to minimize. It starts small but grows. And unless you have the right controls in place, it can cost you—a lot. According to global financial advisory firm Stout Risius Ross, an estimated $1 billion is lost each year to fraudulent expense reimbursement.
Expense report fraud is corrosive. If it’s happening at your company, it probably goes on undetected. At least it starts out that way, as a sneaky (non-compliant) purchase makes its way into an expense report submitted by a trustworthy employee or—heaven forbid—group of trustworthy employees. Unfortunately, that’s just the beginning. Expense Report Fraud: It’s A Big Problem That’s Costing You In their article, The Impact of Expense Reimbursement Fraud, global financial advisory firm Stout Risius Ross estimate that over $1 billion is lost to fraudulent expense reimbursement each year. Additionally, consider these statistics from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ (ACFE) 2014 Global Fraud Study:
- Median loss due to expense reimbursement fraud is $30,000
- Median number months to detect expense reimbursement fraud is 24
- Percent of fraud cases involving expense reimbursements is 16.5 for companies with less than 100 employees and 13.1 for companies with 100 or more employees
- Unassigned or unused credits—an employee’s business trip gets cancelled, for instance, and they receive a refund on their corporate credit card that they use to make a personal purchase rather than returning the money to their employer.
- Duplicate or fictitious expenses—an employee or group of employees conspire to submit the same business lunch receipt, for example, using different expense reports.
- Cash advances—an employee withdraws cash from an ATM using their corporate credit card and claims (fraudulent) business expenses in their expense report
Expense report fraud is corrosive. If it’s happening at your company, it probably goes on undetected. At least it starts out that way, as a sneaky (non-compliant) purchase makes its way into an expense report submitted by a trustworthy employee or—heaven forbid—group of trustworthy employees.
While the holidays inspire most people around the office to deck out their desks with garland and sip on mocha peppermint lattes, corporate travel managers have other things on their minds; like wrapping up straggling expense reports and reconciling receipts and payments before year-end. But when visions of timely approvals and balanced T&E budgets crowd out the dancing sugar plum fairies, we’d say it’s probably a good time to create a wish list to share with the North Pole, C-Suite. To lighten your load, we’ve created this travel management wish list. And to make things a little easier for your company’s executive gift-givers, we’re sharing what it takes to make your wishes come true. “I wish I didn’t have to explain, yet again, which expenses qualify for reimbursement.” If an expense reporting process with built-in T&E policy compliance safeguards sounds like the stuff of dreams are made of, think again. Nexonia Expenses is configured using your company’s travel expense policy. This means that it has controls (including customized expense categories and required fields), keeping employees compliant with what’s reimbursable, and what’s not. Even the approvals process is aligned with your corporate expense policy, so the right people always have their eyes on the right reports. “I wish employees would submit their expense reports on time.” A timely process ensures you don’t have to chase down employees for expense reports—so you can close the books, help the finance team optimize cash flow and keep employees happy with quick expense reimbursement. The key is implementing an automated system like Nexonia Expenses. When their expense reporting process has a user-friendly interface and offers on-the-go accessibility through the powerful mobile Nexonia Expenses app, employees won’t want to wait to the last minute to create and submit a report. Plus, company administrators enjoy smoother approvals and reconciliations, eliminating the bottlenecks associated with a manual workflow. “I wish I didn’t have to enter the same expense information into multiple systems” If only you had integrated systems, you wouldn’t be overburdened with time-consuming, error-prone and manual double entries. With Nexonia Expenses, you’ll have automated integration with your other business applications: travel management, accounting/ERP, payroll, CRM and more. You’ll have the flexibility to include custom fields so your data works the way you need it to. You can map to various financial data, incorporate credit card feeds and manage multiple currencies—whatever you need to make your expense reporting process easy and streamlined. “I wish I had better news for my boss!” The secret to impressing the powers-that-be with actionable operational insights is in the data—and the tools you have to make the most of it. Nexonia Expenses gives you a level of transparency you simply can’t get from manual, offline expense reporting. When your expenses go digital, every transaction becomes “crunchable” and your team gets the information you need to make smart budgeting decisions, effective process improvements, and successful policy enhancements. Nexonia Expenses is on a cloud-based platform, so you can’t wrap it in a bow—but it’s truly a gift that keeps on giving. Here’s to hoping your wishes get fulfilled in time for the New Year! The Corporate Travel Manager's Holiday Wish List Gallery
While the holidays inspire most people around the office to deck out their desks with garland and sip on mocha peppermint lattes, corporate travel managers have other things on their minds; like wrapping up straggling expense reports and reconciling receipts and payments before year-end.
It takes a different breed to be a business traveler. Acting as the face of your company, your corps of business travelers spend weeks away from their families, friends and creature comforts. It pays to keep your team happy, minimizing the stress that comes with each economy class long-haul flight, delay or last minute move. So, why does it take so long to get these travelers reimbursed for their flight, hotel or meal?
A Full Business Week: The Difference between Leaders and LaggardsAccording to APQC, a leading business benchmarking nonprofit, the top 25% of firms can turn around an expense reimbursement in four days or less, with the bottom 25% taking nine days or more to approve and schedule T&E reimbursements. This means that there are numerous people right now, sitting in a hotel room or on a flight, waiting patiently for finance to recognize, approve and reimburse their out of pocket purchases. It gets worse when you look at how much it costs the organization. The bottom performers of the 1,069 companies studied pay four times as much (0.04% of revenue vs. 0.01%) just to process reimbursements. Simply stated, slow reimbursements cost everyone from sales (unhappy travelers) to finance (higher processing costs) to human resources (employee turnover and hiring).
Getting Up to Speed: How to Shorten Time to ReimbursementSo, what can you do to speed up the reimbursement process, improving the morale of business travelers and the overall outlook of your company? The key is to clarify, simplify, and automate:
ClarifyThe ability for an organization to set and adhere to a travel and expense management policy requires well-defined boundaries and timeframes, straightforward communications and an easy-to-follow reporting procedure. Whether it’s a formal pre-approval system or set of guidelines for travelers, ensuring travelers and the finance team are on the same page is the first step in improving the overall travel and expense experience. Read More: Four Must-Haves for a Winning Expense Report Policy
SimplifyWhat’s the quickest way to irk a traveler? Force him or her to come into the office every Friday for administrative work, filling out paper-based expense reports with receipts collected throughout the week. The ability to let a business traveler do what he or she does best brings your company more sales and in turn more revenue, all while reducing the amount of paper used and time spent reading and keying in data. The simplest way to do this is to completely remove the paper-based processes. The employee can snap a receipt on a cell phone, having the information auto-populate a digital expense report. The finance department doesn’t have to read the handwriting, and approvals can be completed more quickly, reducing the overall time to reimbursement. Read More: Three Reasons to Go Mobile with Your Expense Reporting
AutomateJust as the simplicity of mobile reporting makes life easier for finance and travel, the ability to automate the process can further reduce the time for approvals. A fully automated process can bring together the compliance of your policy with the simplification brought by a mobile app, leading your organization to enhanced visibility and savings. Read More: Three Reasons You Need to Automate Your Expense Reporting Process
Bringing it all TogetherReimbursing business travelers quickly not only keeps them happy and performing well, but it also saves you money. Learn more about how to speed up the approval and reimbursement process with intuitive expense reporting software that can help you clarify, simplify, automate and save money using the resources below: Gallery
It takes a different breed to be a business traveler. Acting as the face of your company, your corps of business travelers spend weeks away from their families, friends and creature comforts. It pays to keep your team happy, minimizing the stress that comes with each economy class long-haul flight, delay or last minute move.
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?
- How user-friendly is the interface?
- 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?
- 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?
- What resources are required for implementation?
- What about scheduled 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.
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!
You’re looking forward to enjoying more freedom and flexibility in managing your employee expense reports, timesheets and/or account payables. But first, you have to connect your new cloud-based service to your in-house accounting or ERP system. Since Nexonia’s specialty is deep and highly configurable system integrations, your implementation process is sure to be smooth and steady. But regardless of whether you’re integrating your ERP with one of Nexonia’s solutions or another Independent Software Vendor (ISV)’s product (such as Bill.com’s bill payment system or Avalara’s AvaTax sales tax solution), your integration can be implemented with ease —especially if you take a few simple steps:
1. Define Your GoalsAre you investing in new software and integrating it into a streamlined workflow to save time, money or improve your processes? While your answer to this question is surely, “YES!” it’s helpful to define exactly what you expect to achieve. For example, you might looking to:
- Reduce manual processing of data by 10 hours/week
- Get more visibility into spend to make budget optimizations
- Lessen turnaround time on approvals to provide better customer service
2. Prepare For Custom ConfigurationsToday’s expense and payroll solutions are designed to seamlessly pull all of your data, including user hierarchy information and your chart of accounts, over to the new system. They are programmed to support departments and classes (however they’re used by your organization) and any custom fields can be mapped according to your specifications. Before your new system enters development, share clear details on how your existing process works so configurations are managed correctly. This will help the team identify anything that isn’t an “out of the box” capability and ensure your company’s software administrators are hitting the ground running after the integration.
3. Know Your DataIt’s important that your data is usable—clean and in the right format—so it can be synchronized with the new solution. Prior to the integration, your implementation team will ensure your data is sitting in your systems correctly, but be sure to address any of your questions or concerns with the project manager early. There may be something different your users want to do with the data once it’s in the new system, and you don’t want to leave their success to chance. Some good things for your team to know: how often will the integration run? Can the data be synced on-demand? Will the process affect your network and create downtime? Will users need to do anything differently in their day-to-day work?
4. Get Ready To Go Full Speed AheadA systems integration is a process resulting in tremendous changes—it marks an exciting time for your accounting team and your organization as a whole. Rest assured, the efforts you put in up-front to plan for success will pay off in the end. It will enhance the way your team operates and add value where you only imagined it before. And, if you opt to move forward with a Nexonia solution integration, you can rest assured you’ll be in good hands.4 Steps to a Successful System Integration Gallery
You’re looking forward to enjoying more freedom and flexibility in managing your employee expense reports, timesheets and/or account payables. But first, you have to connect your new cloud-based service to your in-house accounting or ERP system. Since Nexonia’s specialty is deep and highly configurable system integrations, your implementation process is sure to be smooth and steady.
A well-executed company expense report policy can cut costs, improve administrative efficiency, and enhance employees’ overall T&E experience. You’re spending money to make money, after all, so you want to be sure everyone’s on the same page while carrying out the company’s mission—on the road, at the office supply store, or while entertaining clients. For expense reports to be accurate and compliant, your expense report policy needs to be rock-solid. It needs to spell out the entire process, from to getting expenses pre-authorized to reimbursed. So whether you’re creating a new expense report policy or refreshing your existing one, make sure you consider these components to make sure you’re covering all the bases:
1. Well-Defined Expense GuidelinesThe primary goal of your policy is to set employees’ expectations by defining what your company will and will not reimburse—and under what conditions. Employees are often using their discretion when booking travel arrangements or buying lunch in a faraway city, but guidelines like these will help them make reasonable choices:
- Should they use a company booking website when reserving airfare? Are they required to select the least expensive fare for nonstop flights? When can they book a business-class seat?
- When can employees use their personal travel reward memberships, like hotel chain points or airline frequent flyer miles?
- Will your company pay for alcoholic beverages, sporting event tickets, and in-room movies? Under what conditions?
2. Distinct TimeframesIt’s important to keep your expense report process moving along for both optimum cash flow and employee customer service purposes: your finance team wants to account for their expenses as soon as possible and employees want to be paid quickly. Establish a timetable so everyone from the individuals submitting expense reports to the workers processing them are aware of deadlines. You will likely want to include details about submission grace periods and occasions when you’ll deny reimbursement for late or incomplete submissions.
3. Easy-To-Follow Expense Reporting ProcedureWhat do you want your employees to do before, during, and after they incur expenses? Your procedure should be designed for ease-of-use so employees get on board with the process and avoid mistakes and frustration—and so your automated system can be developed to fit your workflow. Remember to include information in your policy addressing:
- PRE-APPROVAL PROCESS. If you use a formal pre-approval system to control spending before it happens, give employees and managers instructions on when they need to submit requests and get them approved—and how to tie approvals with the expense reports they’ll submit later.
- RECORDKEEPING. Encourage employees to keep good records (e.g. original receipts, the names of people involved, the business purpose) that are detailed enough in case the IRS needs more information or there are any disputes.
- COMPLIANCE AND APPROVAL ROUTING. Let employees know how many levels each type of expense report (based on employee hierarchy, dollar threshold, etc.) needs to travel, and how this can impact their approval timeframe or record-keeping requirements.
4. Straightforward Employee CommunicationsOnce you’ve established your expense report policy, make it easy for employees to understand and access. Try to avoid using too much jargon and consider putting it into more than one format (e.g. downloadable PDF, slideshow or video) so people can read through it at their convenience, at home or in the office. And make sure managers at all levels are familiar with the policy so they’re able to answer employees’ questions and support their spending activities. When it comes time to writing a corporate spending policy, continuous improvement is the name of the game. Encourage your employees to provide feedback so you can make adjustments to your guidelines and processes and achieve ongoing optimization. Let us know if you have anything to add to our list of must-haves—and what makes your expense report policy a success.4 Must-Haves for a Winning Expense Report Policy Gallery
A well-executed company expense report policy can cut costs, improve administrative efficiency, and enhance employees’ overall T&E experience. You’re spending money to make money, after all, so you want to be sure everyone’s on the same page while carrying out the company’s mission—on the road, at the office supply store, or while entertaining clients. For expense reports to be accurate and compliant, your expense report policy needs to be rock-solid.
Business travelers hop into cabs, take to the airways and check into hotel rooms day in and day out. They’re meeting with clients, consulting with business partners, and possibly even burning the midnight oil while they’re in a faraway city. They’re out there working hard for the company, and from buying cups of coffee to paying checked-baggage fees, they’re racking up expenses at every turn. To make sure they’re keeping track of their spending—and upholding the integrity of your T&E policy—it helps to involve employees in the travel planning process. Here are some tips to get everyone on the same page so you can manage costs and maximize their time away from the office:
Review Your Travel PolicyWhen was the last time your travel managers or accounts payable team reviewed your company’s travel policy with employees? Ideally, this document should be updated regularly and immediately shared with departmental managers and their travelers. Invite employees to revisit your policy by making it easily accessible—via video or a slideshow on your Intranet, for instance—and encourage them to ask questions pertaining to upcoming trips. You want to establish that your T&E guidelines are put in place to make business travel both profitable and comfortable, and to set expectations with respect to which expenses are reimbursable and what they’ll need to file a complete and timely expense report. For more insights, explore Why Create a Travel Expense Policy (and how to do it).
Define and Discuss Trip GoalsTry to avoid sending employees off into the field without clear business—and spending—objectives. If they’re conducting a sales seminar to recruit new clients, should they treat their most promising leads to dinner and drinks at the most expensive local eatery? Do you expect employees to make cold calls while on the road, schedule meetings with prospective clients, or get their usual deskwork done in their hotel room? Help them make choices that help them stay productive and efficient—and show them how their spending choices affect the company’s bottom line.
Plan EarlyLast-minute business trips are a reality, and all too often they result in higher-than-usual travel costs. While there’s not much you can do to control pricing in the eleventh hour, planning early when you can enables you to take advantage of good pricing and a wider range of options. Even if your company has a dedicated employee or travel agency to make travel arrangements and stay on top of prices, deals, and discounts—but make sure business traveler is in the loop. Offer them incentives to look into local hotels, restaurants, meeting places, and even transportation alternatives that might be more cost-efficient.
Automate Your ProcessesTechnology tools help employees on the road (and the people back in the office) maximize their productivity. And today, that means moving away from manual processes with user-friendly solutions that streamline expense management administration. Identify the sticking points in your existing workflows and look into the capabilities of your accounting and ERP systems to see where you can start automating. As a next step, turn to a cloud-based software solution to fully customize your process to your needs. You can enable your business travelers to create and submit expense reports from their mobile device, their managers to approve them, and your accounting team to release their reimbursement funds—all with a push of a few buttons.
Evaluate—and ImproveAt the end of each business trip, encourage your employees to assess their experience. Was the time and money well spent? Use their feedback to improve your T&E policies or the way you communicate them, and look for ways to cut costs or improve employee productivity on similar trips in the future. With so much going into your employees’ travel plans—and coming out of your corporate travel budget to make it all happen—make sure you optimize your processes and make it easy for travelers to do their part. Following these guidelines is a great way to start.Tips To Engage Your Employees In Business Travel Planning Gallery
Business travelers hop into cabs, take to the airways and check into hotel rooms day in and day out. They’re meeting with clients, consulting with business partners, and possibly even burning the midnight oil while they’re in a faraway city. They’re out there working hard for the company, and from buying cups of coffee to paying checked-baggage fees, they’re racking up expenses at every turn. To make sure they’re keeping track of their spending—and upholding the integrity of your T&E policy—it helps to involve employees in the travel planning process.