As a high-powered executive, you care deeply about your business and about making the best use of your time. Business travel management tends to be a careful balancing act between minimising unnecessary expenditure and ensuring your company's travel budget works for you and brings in revenue. After all, those face-to-face meetings with your customers, suppliers and partners are invaluable to the growth of your business.
Of course, business travel doesn’t have to be a particularly lavish or extravagant affair. But you don't have to make business travel uncomfortable or unpleasant for the sake of saving a few euro's either. Because if you're too cramped to work during the three hours you're in the air, that hundred euro saving pales in comparison to the time wasted in transit. Time that represents a direct cost to the company.
If mere cost-saving is your idea of effectively managing business travel expenses, you're setting yourself up for unhappy employees and less than ideal business results. You know how uncomfortable a 10-hour transatlantic Economy flight can be. And, more importantly, how exhausted you are going straight from the airport into an important meeting.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult for policy creators to consider these indirect costs when creating travel policies. But for the people travelling away from home, time is always money or a lost opportunity to be with loved ones. If you’re going to do business travel, you should do it right. A good Travel and Expense Management - or TEM - solution will help you develop a solid company policy by rooting out gray areas and identifying ways to save you both time and money.
So what are the costs, hidden or otherwise, you should consider when developing your travel and expense policy? How can you identify the opportunities that will have a positive impact on your budget, your bottom line and your team? We've rounded up the top pain points for your consideration:
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In 2016, the average cost of producing a manual expense report was almost four times that of an automated one ($26.63 vs. $6.85) and that’s just for starters. There are numerous other issues to consider, including the human factor, which covers just about everything from accidentally logging an expense under the wrong category to employees trying to slip additional receipts into their claim.
Then there is the difficulty of staying on top of expense claims. Reconciling, reviewing and approving expenses, checking them for errors and policy violations can be extremely time consuming when you have multiple team members on the road. It’s all too easy for a claim to slip between the cracks, or a receipt to go missing behind the filing cabinet. Receipts, after all, are probably the item most misplaced by travellers. Without them, reimbursement becomes a headache for everyone involved.
Another common issue is employees’ failure to submit their reports on time. Bills end up somewhere at the bottom of an overflowing in-tray and don’t surface again until the end of the quarter, which can create undue temporary pressure on company cash flow. And not reimbursing expenses in a timely manner invariably leads to feelings of disenchantment. In fact, most employees hate expense reports.
Regulations have a habit of changing, and keeping up with them can be quite the challenge. Whether you operate in your home country only or boast multiple branches around the globe, the very nature of business travel means you are faced with cross-border regulations. Legal and tax compliance are real concerns, and with the introduction of GDPR in the EU, data protection has firmly been put centre stage.
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In order to stay on top of your organisation's travel and expense management, you need a tool that allows for clear and accurate reporting at the click of a mouse or the tap of a finger. A secure, cloud-based system with a personalised dashboard will help you do just that. Analysing data, tracking receipts and filing claims should be easy and intuitive. Know what to look for in your TEM solution.
Finally, your TEM solution should be easy to implement and maintain. There's no point investing in a clunky tool that keeps your IT department up at night. Whether it needs to interact with your ERP software or work as a standalone tool, a user-friendly interface is just as important as an easy to maintain back-end.
In short, getting to grips with your Travel and Expense Management - or TEM - should help your business, not burden it. You've invested a lot in developing company policy, including business trips. Whether you allocate travel budgets per department, per profile or per person, the time required to manually approve every single request and review for potential policy violations quickly adds up. You need to find a system that is fair, easy to implement and use, and most of all, takes the sting out of managing travel and expenses.