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5 steps to find the right travel & expense management software

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smartmockups_jepn2yfvChoosing a travel and expense management software can be an expensive and time-intensive commitment for your organization. But when you consider the benefits of using an automated solution, you will soon realize that finding the right vendor that meets your company needs is worth the effort. 

The time and budget you will invest in automated software is minimal compared to the mass of unjustified travel costs you may be struggling to eliminate from your monthly expenses without such an automated solution.

Finding the right  travel and expense management software is a process, and here are 5 steps you can follow:

Assessing your company's needs and goals

First, you and your colleagues must determine what are the needs within your company and what challenges you are trying to overcome by investing in an enterprise travel and expense management software.

Your high travel costs stem from the challenges of manual expense processing:

  • A waste of the employees' time and the company's money;
  • Ineffective compliance due to an increased risk of fraud and human error;
  • Difficulties in analysing the current status or in seeing the big picture;
  • Poor business decisions due to irrelevant or incorrect data.

You will solve each of the problems above by choosing the right expense management automation app. In this first stage, be sure to involve the most important stakeholders and to assess each and every process you put into place in order to efficiently manage your business travel costs.

Identifying and deciding on the most important expense management features

You have probably already seen several automated solutions and you understand how each feature can help you reduce costs related to business travel, but are you 100% sure that you are ready to choose one?

Now that you have made the internal assessment, you are more aware of the list of requirements that a travel expense management solution must meet. The next step you must take is to think about how the current processes are put into practice or  how the current expense system works for you:

  • Prioritize user experience depending on the employees that will use the solution the most;
  • Ensure that your new expense management solution can be integrated with other technologies, such as ERPs or accounting software;
  • Take into consideration how fast your employees can learn to use new technologies and if you need to organize a couple of training hours for your teams;
  • Focus more on mobility as your employees save a lot of time if they can access the travel expense solution on their mobile phones and submit their receipts in real time.

Determining the parameters of the project

When you define the most important requirements a travel and expense management system must meet, you should have in mind three parameters: required budget, technological capacity and time available.

The aim here is to adjust your budget, knowing that an enterprise expense management solution will help you reduce costs, including the hidden costs of business trips. So consider a short term financial effort for a series of long term cost-related benefits.

Consider, also, the technological constraints. Are you prepared for a hardware investment? Do you even need one? Do you have the support of your own IT department to advise you into choosing the right alternative for your company?

As a high ranking company executive, you will always be busy with tasks of varying degrees of urgency, but it is essential that you take some time to choose the right T&E management solution for your business. Time may not be your best ally, but you should look at this process as a separate project of your company - it is crucial to the success of the implementation process.

Selecting a Project Committee

As we mentioned before, you should involve all the critical stakeholders in this process and consider including members from the following departments: IT, Finance, Accounting, Training, Performance Management, etc.

A lot of travel and expense management software providers give you the opportunity to request a demo and try their solution to decide if it is a good fit for your company. When testing a solution, be sure to involve your committee and other employees - user experience is crucial. The team members will provide you with different perspectives as they are a part of different departments, and this will bring you more insights on the value and challenges of choosing a new tool.  

Compare your needs to the solutions available on the market

Once your Project Committee has all the information it needs to move on with the process, they will have to compare your company needs to the T&E management solutions of the two or three vendors who reached the final candidate list.

Functions

  • Can you enter your expenses in a fast and simple way?
  • Does the application support tax calculation depending on certain criteria?
  • Does the app have access to tax calculation around the world?
  • Can you be notified when your company travel policy is violated?
  • What special expense features can you obtain?
  • Is there an automated solution for receipt submission?
  • Is there an automated accounting and approval feature available?
  • What types of reporting tools are there?
  • Can you automatically generate reports?
  • Can you integrate your company's workflow into the application?
  • Is expense control supported?

Usage

  • Is the app designed to meet your employees' needs?
  • How do employees use the app while travelling?
  • Is it available for different mobile devices and operating systems?
  • Can I customize the application's look, terminology, help text, etc.?
  • In what language is it available?

Integrations

  • Can we integrate the travel and expense management solution with several of our partners' solutions?
  • Can it be integrated with online booking tools?
  • What about credit cards and e-invoice integration?
  • Can it be integrated with our ERP, HR management solution or accounting system?
  • Does it provide updated information about the exchange rates?

It is crucial for you to ensure that you choose the right enterprise expense management software and that everybody, from employees to managers, is happy to use everyday. We hope that these 5 steps will lead you the the right travel & expense management solution for your company.

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