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 [email protected]
To calculate savings from automating the T&E Expense Reporting Process, click HERE