According to research from the Aberdeen Group, 51% of companies cited a lack of visibility into travel spend as their top T&E management challenge. If you are like most organizations, the amount of spend related to travel is huge. In fact, travel is considered to be the second largest controllable business expense. With that in mind, do you feel like you have control over your company’s travel expenses?
A comprehensive and flexible travel management reporting system can provide travel managers the view they need to effectively monitor performance indicators, identify travel patterns and track spending in granular detail. A powerful reporting tool will consolidate travel data in real-time so managers have quick access to accurate information. The more accurate your travel activity data, the more empowered you are to manage travel behavior, track cost savings and enforce policy.
When evaluating a reporting system that is best suited to your unique business situation, consider these features and travel reporting objectives:
Travel information must be complete and up-to-date. Whether the airline ticket, hotel stay or car rental was booked through email, a mobile app, a dedicated TMC agent or online, the booking must be recorded in a consolidated, central database.
Reports should be easily accessible and delivered at pre-set intervals or broadcast to relevant parties. Real-time dashboards should be fully integrated and customizable. Easy access to information means that the reporting system works on a tablet, smart phone, iPad, iPhone, etc., as well as on a desktop. In addition to accessibility, look for easy-to-navigate dashboards and a user-friendly interface.
Some systems, like Concur, contain more than 180 comprehensive analytic reports in their standard report catalog. Make sure any reporting system under consideration contains at least these pre-defined, standard reports A survey of Concur’s clients determined that the following three reports are their most popular:
- Unassigned Credit Card Transaction Report – Lists all unassigned credit card transactions NOT assigned to an expense report. This report identifies those transactions that exceed the number of days your policy allows for reimbursement. With visibility into these outstanding liabilities, you can speak with those individuals in violation and remind them of corporate policy.
- Duplicate Meal Attendees Report – Lists those expenses where the same attendee claimed more than one expense item on the same day. Although, there are certainly situations where this is a perfectly legitimate expense claim, it can also identify a mistake or fraud. Duplicates should be examined for legitimacy. If it is not a valid expense, you have the opportunity to collect spend for a non-legitimate business expense.
- Top Spend by Vendor Report - Ranks vendors with the highest amount of submitted expenses for a specified time period. This report delivers visibility into your budget spend and presents opportunities for savings. Employees not taking advantage of preferred vendor discounts should be reminded of corporate policy. Supplier discounts with high-ranking vendors should be negotiated for further savings.
In addition to the reports mentioned above, detecting unassisted online booking activity, non-compliance costs by type of travel service, unused tickets, trip miles and cost per mile by business unit/department, total savings attributed to compliance, justified (by role exception) lost savings, and unjustified lost savings are all areas to examine to gain more control over T&E spend and traveler compliance. A good reporting system can provide insight into these areas with standardized reports.
Customized, Flexible Reports
A fully customized, ad-hoc reporting system should meet the needs of all stakeholders and help individual department managers identify spend patterns and savings opportunities across the board. You should be able to drill down and sort expenses by division, department, job number or cost center as defined by your requirements. Flexible reporting should permit the creation of reports to benchmark your travel metrics against industry standards, identify program leakage, import data to MS Excel for complex manipulation and examine travel behavior by business unit or individual travelers.
If your organization has an international presence and uses multiple currencies, make sure there is a currency conversion feature so you can report in one single currency.
Share the Data
In today’s data-driven world, travel managers have the ability to run reports on all types of employee travel information, such as preferences for travel times, direct or indirect flights, credit card usage and seat choices. So what can travel managers do with all of this data? Share it! By making reports available to senior management as well as other groups within the company, such as travel management departments, finance, human resources, safety and security, site services and purchasing, your managed travel program gains visibility. Automatically scheduled reports can be delivered to the right department based on reporting privileges to encourage data sharing.
When considering a T&E reporting system for your business, look for a tool with powerful analytics and reporting capabilities that can provide a complete picture of your travel program. With the use of real-time travel data to generate reports, travel managers can easily uncover any non-compliance issues in regard to corporate travel policy. Discovering and addressing these issues as well as running ad-hoc reports helps all business entities within the company to better track travel spend and improve cost savings.
If you already have a reporting system in place, you might want to review your current reporting practices with a renewed focus, looking for opportunities or metrics to improve areas within your travel program that might need attention.
Are your travel reporting objectives giving you the visibility you need to streamline your travel policy? Fill out our benchmarking tool survey to determine where and/ or what you can improve!