5 Ways to Use Travel and Expense Data Strategically
How do you use the data you’re collecting about travel and expense (T&E) in your company?
Just about every company needs a way of managing reimbursements for travel and other expenses. This process generates data related to T&E, but companies aren’t always putting that data to good use. Depending on your T&E management system, you might not even have a good way to access that data.
An efficient, digital system for managing expense reimbursements makes it easy to access, analyze, and strategically leverage data related to T&E.
Why Review T&E Now?
Business travel slowed or, for some companies, shut down entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, though, travel is starting to pick up again despite economic concerns such as inflation. According to predictions from the Global Business Travel Association, “global business travel will almost reach pre-pandemic levels in 2025” and return to “the $1.4 trillion dollar mark” in the middle of 2026.
As business travel returns to pre-pandemic levels, now is a great time to take a close look at your company’s T&E management. Unless you’ve updated your T&E management system recently, there’s a good chance the technology you’re using could be better. And with the number of travel expenses your company will be handling likely to increase in the coming months and years, now is a good time to upgrade your expense management software.
Which Solution to Use?
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions for business process automation (BPA) give your company a way to make T&E reporting more efficient. This type of software solution is also customizable to fit your company’s exact needs. One such customization is the ability to automatically reinforce expense reimbursement policies. Plus, SaaS BPA solutions collect data automatically and make it easy to run reports to use in strategic planning.
NextProcess Expense Report Software is a comprehensive solution to centralize and automate the T&E process. The user-friendly software lets employees upload their receipts directly to the system and track the status of an expense report. The highly flexible configuration lets your company customize and automate policy compliance. For those managing expense reporting, the software provides complete visibility into the process. This reduces the risk of fraud and makes accurate, relevant data easy to access.
5 Ways to Use Travel and Expense Data Strategically
Once you have easy access to data related to your company’s travel and expense reporting, you can put that data to work. Accurate, accessible data empowers your company to make more strategic T&E decisions.
1) Use Data to Negotiate with Vendors
Data can help your company negotiate discounts and deals with preferred vendors. For example, suppose most of your business travel takes place through a certain airline but you don’t yet have a contract deal with them. You can provide data showing that you’re already using their service most of the time, and offer to book with them exclusively when you’re discussing a contract. Similarly, if your employees frequently travel to the same city, you can use data on costs for past travel to negotiate rates for future travel.
2) Manage Policies Based on Data
Data collected by expense management systems can provide insight into how well your policies are working. If you’re noticing a lot of expense reports that fall outside approved expenses, then perhaps the policy isn’t clear enough for the system to enforce it automatically. You might also notice that there are legitimate expense reports submitted that aren’t yet covered by the policy and require manual approval.
Data about policy exceptions help your company revise expense policies to make sure they are clear to employees and cover everything they should. You’ll also be able to update the T&E automation system to enforce these policies proactively. Then, the software can automatically process in-policy expenses to make the reimbursement process faster.
3) Improve Reconciliation and Audits
With NextProcess’s T&E system, complete transparency of reimbursement policy and processing makes for easier audits. Electronic expense reporting happens with audit requirements programmatically enforced. You’ll also have a much easier time reconciling spend with statements at the end of each month since you’ll have access to all the related data. In fact, much of that reconciliation happens automatically as the software double-checks expense reports and payments.
4) Leverage Data for Budgeting
The more accurate the data you can access about past T&E reports, the more accurate forecasts your company can make. Trends and patterns in expense management data provide insight for making useful budgets. When you can look back on how much travel employees did, why they were traveling, and what expenses they reported, then you can use that to plan ahead.
If you have access to pre-pandemic travel and expense report data, be sure to include that in your forecasts as well. If you base a T&E budget on travel in 2020 and 2021, for example, you’d likely underestimate how much travel employees will be doing in 2023 and 2024.
5) Better Support Your Employees
Technology-driven T&E management helps make the expense report process easier for employees. When the system is automatically enforcing policies, it’s easier for employees to make sure their expenses are policy-compliant. Employees can access NextProcess’ expense report submission portal from any internet-connected device to quickly upload receipts and submit reports.
As the system collects data, you’ll be able to analyze that data for trends and patterns. On the one hand, pattern analysis can make things easier for employees by identifying their preferred travel plans (flight times, hotel chains, etc.) and prioritizing making those available. On the other hand, noticing trends can also help you identify employees that routinely submit reports that are outside policy so you can alert their managers to provide increased oversight.
As business travel picks back up in the post-pandemic world, get ready for increasing numbers of expense reports with new software-as-a-service business automation software. Automating travel and expense reporting and management makes the entire process more efficient and streamlines data collection. Automation software also records T&E data automatically and makes that data easy to access. With accurate and accessible data, your company is poised to leverage T&E information to make more strategic expense decisions. To learn more about how NextProcess can help, contact us today to schedule a free demo.