Getting Ready for Increased Business Travel with a New Expense Management System
All companies need methods for handling reimbursement of employee expenses. For small companies, this is typically a simple system. Employees save their receipts, and the business issues a payment. As a company grows, though, managing expenses becomes more complicated. For organizations with hundreds or thousands of employees, it’s nearly impossible to process all the expense reports using a manual, paper-based system.
The COVID-19 pandemic cut down on business travel or, for some businesses, discontinued travel entirely. Now, though, business travel is starting to pick up again despite economic concerns such as inflation. According to the 2022 Global Business Travel Association predictions, “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.
With business travel on its way back to pre-pandemic levels, now is a perfect time to reevaluate your company’s travel and expense (T&E) management system. Some companies may be growing and looking to digitize a paper system for the first time. Other organizations might be using spreadsheets or other digital programs that aren’t up to date with modern automation technology. Either way, now is a great time to evaluate your current processes and implement a new, more efficient automation system for T&E management.
Do You Need a New T&E System?
Even if you’ve already decided it’s time for a new T&E system, start by evaluating the current process. Survey employees working in T&E and those that submit expense reports about what they think works and what needs improvement. Pull data and see if you can learn how long it takes to process an expense request, what percentage of requests are for out-of-policy expenses, and what problems show up in the reporting process (e.g. missing receipts).
For many companies, expense management automation is something they’ve been working with for a while. As of a 2019 report surveying over 500 finance professionals, about 57% of companies had digitized their travel and expense reporting process. Not all the methods for digitizing T&E are equally effective, though. For example, in this same survey group, just 27% of respondents had a digital system that automatically flagged expenses that did not match company policy.
If you’re still managing T&E reporting on paper, using spreadsheets, or working with an unsatisfying digital system then it’s likely time for a change. Even systems that seem to be working okay right now might not be able to handle increased travel and expense reporting needs. One solution that can solve problems with manual or inefficient digital systems is an expense management automation system from a software-as-a-service (SaaS) supplier.
Benefits of T&E Business Process SaaS Automation
Think of software-as-a-service as a type of outsourcing. You “outsource” all the processing and automation to a software supplier, but your company and your employees still control everything because they’re the ones using the software. This makes for streamlined processing, easy software updates, and flexible customization and scalability without any additional work for your IT department.
NextProcess’ Travel & Expense automation software is user-friendly for those submitting and processing expense reports. An easy-to-use submission portal makes digitizing receipts and submitting expense reports easy from a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Once employees submit reports, the software system processes them automatically and checks for policy exceptions according to your company’s customized settings. Your company has complete control over configuring policies, rules, advances, limits, and more. Straightforward transactional pricing means you only pay for what you use, and you can easily scale up as employees start traveling more frequently.
In addition to being fast and customizable, the whole process is transparent; employees can check the status of submitted reports at any time. The system also updates in real-time, giving the expenses department access to accurate data that’s always up to date. And even though the system is highly accessible, it’s also secure and you can customize which aspects of the system are visible to each user. Plus, the system programmatically enforces audit requirements.
5 Steps for Moving Forward with New T&E Software
1) Survey and Review
As already discussed, taking stock of your current T&E system is a first step toward improving your expense management process. Survey employees involved in the expense report process to get their feedback on what works and what doesn’t. Compile data into reports on current costs, pain points, and things that you might want to keep as-is.
2) Prioritize Your Goals
After surveying employees and reviewing the current process, it’s time to turn those findings and recommendations into goals for improvement. Make a list of must-haves for the new T&E process. Knowing your goals and needs makes it easier to find an automation program that will work well for your company.
3) Get Approval for Updates
As you’re working on goals for updating your travel and expense management system and looking for software, it’s important to make sure that the IT department, T&E managers, and c-suite executives are on board with the planned change. Addressing IT’s concerns about resources and security will go a long way toward getting them on your side. You’ll also want to make sure those in charge of managing T&E, as well as other stakeholders in this process, are on board with the planned changes.
4) Identify and Demo Options
Look for software-as-a-service solutions that offer customizable T&E management systems that will meet all the must-haves on your list. The software supplier should also hold themselves to a high standard, provide reliable digital security, make easy-to-use software, and provide implementation support as well as ongoing updates and customer service. They should also offer a free demo so you can see the software in action, as we do for NextProcess.
5) Begin Implementation
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, it’s time for implementation. NextProcess is highly involved with the process of implementing our software. We’ll make sure it integrates seamlessly with your existing ERPs and work alongside your T&E department to get everything set up just how you want it. Plus, we’re there after the implementation to answer questions, provide support, and keep the software updated.
If you’re ready to see how NextProcess can help your company manage increasing demands for your travel and expense management, click here to set up a free demo. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have, show you how the software works, and discuss what customization options are available.