Over the years, we have observed business and travel trends shift alongside technological advancements. And the past year has shown shifts continue to accelerate as we turn towards an ever-increasing global economy. And every business is not spared, from the biggest multinational corporation down to the smallest individual online shop. Read more
A mid-sized organization has its share of challenges especially in this era of technology and globalization. Particularly in business travel and expense management, finance managers in these organizations can find several pain points that eventually trickle its way to company operations, and finally the bottom line. Therefore, it goes without saying that an effective expense management tool is necessary for any organization if they want to succeed in what they do and find this success reflected in their financials.
Enter Gorilla Expense. Read more
Gorilla Expense makes travel and expense reporting a breeze with an easy, seamless, and scalable solution for businesses of all sizes. It provides smooth and automatic integration with Microsoft Dynamics GP. In fact, with Gorilla Expenses proprietary integration software, it all happens in just one click of a button. Read more
How much is it to travel from your main headquarters to your satellite office in another state? When you go around and ask your colleagues, odds are, they would have different answers.
This simple experiment shows just how easy and common it is for employees to make honest mistakes on their expense reports. The question is, however, are these really mistakes or deliberate misrepresentations? Read more
According to the Aberdeen Group research, surveys based on millions of expense reports submitted by 3,000 companies reveal that U.S. T&E costs are constantly rising. The largest increases were in airfare (up 5.7%), hotels (up 4.5%), and meetings (up 7.7%).
With T&E spend ranging from 7% to 15% percent of the total budget for the average mid-market company ($50 million to $800 million in revenue), the challenge facing CFOs and Controllers in this area is dramatic with millions of dollars at stake! For most companies, travel related expenses remain a significant area of spend – second only to payroll.
Scope of challenge
Fundamentally, most companies struggle to tackle these challenges because of not knowing where to start, when it comes to managing their T&E Expense reporting process, resulting in thousands of dollars of reckless spending and waste. Aberdeen’s report (Expense Management for a New Decade and The Mid-Market Expense Management Program) says that:
* 56% of mid-market companies have limited visibility into T&E spending
* Less than 45% track their expenses via analytics and business intelligence in real time
* Only 33% leverage cloud-based expense reporting solutions and 28% integrate corporate cards
* Just 15% provide T&E data to C-level executives for financial forecasting purposes
Solutions for a new decade
The good news is that cloud-based solutions have significantly brought down the cost of automating T&E expense reporting. These solutions have been shown to deliver huge reductions in expense processing costs. But the big questions is – where do you start?
The Best-In-Class corporations (a term used by the Aberdeen Group to classify the top 20% of companies that manage their expense related processes by creatively blending technology & strategy) combine strategy, core capabilities, technology, a culture that embraces change and a desire to optimize. The objectives of most Best-In-Class programs include cost savings, enhanced productivity, improved efficiencies and better compliance. This is usually achieved by unifying the different processes in the lifecycle.
By advocating a culture that fosters Best-In-Class programs and by investing in a system that ensures achievement of this status, Best-In-Class companies constantly reap gains and realize immediate ROIs.
Here are the 10 Commandments of Expense Reporting that Best-In-Class companies consistently execute on:
1. Centralize the control and operation of T&E expense management programs
2. Automate the process to greatly reduce unproductive manual work and eliminate errors
3. Integrate the front-end expense reporting system to the ERP system to minimize manual data entries and errors (here is a video of automated integration with Dynamics GP)
4. Establish generally accepted corporate-wide policies and processes
5. Educate employees regularly on expense report related policies and processes and appoint a designee for any questions from employees
6. Encourage usage of corporate cards for better accuracy and mobile device applications for convenience to users (read our blog on Credit Card Integration)
7. Leverage and close the loop on expense management data to fine-tune the system and also provide better deals with travel vendors for the company
8. Develop audit mechanisms that capture errant data and provide real-time visibility into spend
9. Invest in the latest technology to maximize efficiency, provide long term ROI and reduce paper usage
10. Provide flexibility and convenience to the end users to improve productivity, reduce inherent delays and to capture expense data immediately after incurred
For some companies, executing on all 10 steps immediately might prove to be a challenge. In those cases, it would be beneficial to select a few and to focus on those, till the desired results are obtained.
Automating T&E processes does more than just reduce costs. It makes it harder for employees to inflate expenses — and far easier for companies to detect fraud. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, up to 13% of company fraud arises in this area, so that’s a huge advantage. Expense reporting time is reduced and employees are reimbursed faster which is a major boost to morale. Automation results in an average 28% reduction in expense approval times and 27% reduction in employee expense report creation times according to the latest Aberdeen reports.
To read the complete white paper on ’10 steps towards best-in-class status for expense management’, click HERE
If you have any specific questions that we can help with or need more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To calculate savings from automating the T&E Expense Reporting Process, click HERE
As part of a recent research, most managers and travel budget owners for small and medium businesses cited managing costs as the primary goal for 2014. The methods companies use to achieve this goal, vary widely within the SMB segment. The travel spend for companies in this group range from less than $2MM in annual US booked travel to $12MM on the high end.
Most SMBs struggle with the same challenges – lack of internal resources to manage T&E, no dedicated travel manager, missed supplier relationships and a general cookie-cutter travel management program setup by the travel agency, if one exists at all. The best of breed companies may have better control on travel spend with elaborate procurement strategies and internal resources that manage the company’s travel program and spend carefully. These resources typically report to the CFO, thus offering the finance office full visibility into spend.
The reason that travel management as a concept is a challenge for SMBs is because there are many factors that drive a company’s travel strategy: travel patterns, international vs domestic, company culture, senior management’s support, business focus and others. Regardless of the status quo, it is never too late for a company to manage its travel and T&E processes more efficiently.
“I don’t believe there’s a company out there that can’t benefit from some level of a managed program,” said Directravel president Sam DeFranco. “When a company feels like there’s a lack of control of their spending and they only have basic expense processes in place, their antenna should be up.”
Several SMBs were focused on getting the right tools and processes in place in 2014. One was in the midst of “designing and implementing a full-scale travel management program,” while others were planning to implement a robust automated expense-reporting system as soon as possible in 2014.
In the various SMBs, even with senior management support, a planned travel policy, TMC relationship and T&E expense reporting solutions in place, companies reported ongoing challenges with compliance. Several of the companies reported their greatest travel management challenge today was to get travelers to comply.
“At larger companies, you’re dealing with a multitude of people that touch T&E,” said DeFranco. “At one company alone, you could have a travel manager, a director of procurement, a director of purchasing, expense management, HR and a risk manager. Inherently, the SMBs simply do not have the same infrastructure, so to compensate for that, the travel management company account manager essentially becomes an extension of the customer.” One company highlighted the biggest travel management challenge as “achieving objectives with limited resources.” It’s a position in which many managers in the small and midsize segments find themselves.
What are your challenges when it comes to managing travel and travel related expenses? What are your goals for 2014? Let us know in the comments below.
Reference: BTN, "BTN's 2014 Small & Medium Enterprise Report, Apr 15, 2014"
When you think of expense reports, you also think about its vulnerability to fraud. While there are tools and systems to better tackle fraud, consistent auditing still plays a vital role.
Last year, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) reported that nearly 15% of all fraud in the workplace was related to T&E expense reporting. According to the same report, the median financial loss to an organization for a single instance of expense fraud is $26,000, and the median duration of the fraudulent activity is two years. That is a lot of money and a long duration.
Earlier this year, AirPlus International fielded a survey to corporate travel managers to explore how they manage expense fraud in the travel category. 35% of the respondents reported that they manage both travel and T&E within their organizations. Another 15% of the respondents identified their official role as a travel manager but were closely involved in creating T&E expense policy as it relates to travel. On the other side, only 30% of travel managers said their company’s travel policy had any guidelines for T&E expenses. 7% of the respondents said they were not involved at all with T&E expenses.
Of the 119 surveyed, 8% of the respondents reported that their companies had uncovered significant fraud in T&E expense reporting over the last two years while 19% said that they didn’t know of any significant fraud. For the 8% of respondents, the most common behavior was falsifying or altering receipts to inflate reimbursements. Additional common fraudulent behaviors include submitting too many “below-the-line” expenses (expenses below a certain $ value that do not require receipts per a corporation’s T&E policy), exchanging premium-class tickets and reclaiming receipts.
The survey respondents utilized safeguards in place at their organizations for preventing and detecting fraud. The most common prevention tactic, cited by 81% of the respondents, was to include direct manager approval for all T&E expenses. 67% of respondents said their companies required receipts for all expenses incurred during travel, while 59% required the use of a corporate card for T&E expenses.
To read the full report by AirPlus International click here
Maintaining compliance and increasing visibility are the key factors in prevention of T&E fraud. Surprisingly, the ACFE reports that most workplace fraud is initially discovered from a tip provided by a co-worker. However, to take action, the tip must be backed up by facts and data.
Here is a video on T&E expense fraud which you may find useful –
Contact us for more information or if you have any specific questions we can help with at email@example.com
By popular demand from our global customers, we have released a new feature for capturing VAT. Now, users will be able to list the VAT amount(s) for an expense. Since the transaction includes the receipt, companies will be in compliance with typical VAT reclaim requirements. Depending on the country, different VAT rate categories can be configured in the system.
This is really nifty and helps with more T&E visibility for stakeholders. Also it makes VAT reclaim for companies a piece of cake (or a piece of pie if you are from Europe:) Simply compile the expenses, list all the VAT transactions and you are ready to report it! Hope you enjoy this functionality. As always, we love to hear from you – firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is an interesting article from the Huffington Post on 10 ridiculous items for which employees tried to get reimbursement.The list is very interesting and diverse! Would love to hear your comments….
Our friends at the GBTA published a study on Travel Policy Trends: Control – what does it mean and who has it? Here is a teaser of the report –
“Travel professionals are playing an increasingly large and influential role in shaping and controlling business travel policy, aided by online booking tools and fueled by a growing focus on cost-saving efforts. This third annual study surveyed nearly 1,500 travel professionals in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America to determine, for the first time ever, what “control” over travel policy means to them and how travel professionals are adapting to new and evolving business travel requirements..
•Who has the control over travel policy?
•What “control” over travel policy means to travel managers
•What travel managers are doing to adapt to new and evolving environments
•How travel policy differs by company travel spend
The full report can be found here
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