The MacNair Travel Leadership Blog

5 Considerations for Corporate Travel Expense Programs

Posted by Mike MacNair on Jun 23, 2016 12:00:00 PM

5 Considerations for Corporate Expense ProgramsIf you’re like many organizations with automated expense reporting, you are well aware of the advantages of improved visibility into travel expenses. Automated expense solutions not only provide insight, but also save valuable time for your travelers and finance team. No more keeping up with paper receipts!

Now you may be ready to expand on your existing solution. After all, how do you leverage all that data to move the needle and increase your ROI even more? As you contemplate next steps, take these five symbiotic considerations as starting points.

1. Taking it Global

Are you considering going global? If so, you’re probably aware that you will need to take a different and more sophisticated approach to your business practices.

One place to start is with your existing ERP software. Will it continue to meet your needs on a global scale? For example, an online booking tool that your team is happily using at headquarters, may not be widely used overseas which means foreign workers may need additional training. Your current booking tool might also not have the specific features you need overseas, as not every booking system shows all of your hotel and airline options or allows you to make changes within it. 

In addition, different countries have unique IT and data security standards. You’ll need to review legal requirements such as cyber security, tax compliance and local labor laws with your expansion team and get input from each department to ensure you’re asking the right questions.

2. Competing Priorities

As the CFO, you want visibility into travel spending data. Other users have different objectives when it comes to business travel - your travelers want a great user experience, while your travel manager wants a strong travel policy. HR wants employee retention and IT is concerned about data privacy and protection.

Get key players from each department together to discuss concerns, objections and “perfect world” scenarios. That way, you can know where to focus efforts for your next generation solution and you’ll have an easier time with gaining user buy-in. You will also have a stronger program with the additional input.

3. Consolidation

In theory it makes sense to use one booking tool across your company. With a single booking tool, you are able to generate reports that have all of your data in one place. Yet, some systems may be too complex or may not display your preferred supplier’s content. The trick is finding the right tool(s) that meet your particular needs that also integrate with your existing technology.

There are new solutions on the market that allow you to track open booking - those who book outside of the travel program - yet still allow you to keep track of expenses. So, if an employee uses Uber for example, that’s still accounted for.

Here's how a TMC can help you evaluate solutions and determine what will work  best for your needs.

4. Control

If you’ve evaluated your travel program lately, you have an idea of where the gaps lie. For example, if you discovered rogue travelers had been adding thousands of dollars every month to trip totals, but now they’re using approved travel booking methods and saving money, that’s a win.

One of the advantages of automated expense programs is that they encourage your travel team to be more accountable with their travel expense reporting. They can also reduce duplicate expenses, which can be due to an unintentional oversight or intentional dishonesty. A good automated expense program makes it easier on everyone to remain compliant. 

5. Integration

You’ll want to ensure your tools integrate with other technologies and your overall processes.

On one hand, software can make our lives much simpler. Online expense reporting for example, can save hours of wasted effort as long as your travelers properly input their data. But if your chosen expense reporting system doesn’t “speak” to another tool in your travel arsenal, it will add frustration and cost time.

New and improved travel and expense management systems are coming on the market all the time. These tools can be for a single purpose, such as getting a ride: Uber, Lyft, and Gett. To complete end-to-end travel solutions like those offered by Concur and GetThere. 

A TMC can advise you on which software is the best fit for your needs and how it integrates with your existing systems. You don’t want to make the mistake of approving a purchase and later finding out that the software doesn’t perform the way you need it to or doesn’t integrate with your existing ERP.

As you can see, there are many variables to consider as you evaluate your corporate travel expense program. Where specifically do you think you require the most information in order to define your objectives?

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Topics: technology, TMc, Travel Management Company