Expense automation: why employees are requesting it and organisations need it

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Employees are demanding greater flexibility, automation, mobility and incentives for compliance when it comes to travel and expense management. Matt Goss, managing director – Australia & New Zealand, Concur shares his insights with PASA.

These expectations are becoming increasingly difficult to meet for organisations that do not have automation and quick visibility into spend to inform their decisions.

A lot of companies have an expense management solution that leans heavily on manual processes which contradict employee needs and add significant costs to the business. This leads to an array of frustrations for employees and, potentially, significant shortfall in the bottom line.

What employees want:
Employees want organisations to deliver faster turnaround on reimbursements, a flexible travel and expense program with incentives for compliance, and automated expense reporting to reduce time spent on administrative efforts.

Outdated expense methods such as paper-based reports, receipts and spreadsheets are making it harder for organisations to meet these expectations, which, in turn, leads to increased administration costs, difficult in managing compliance and frustrated employees.

This is despite the fact that automating expenses decreases the cost of expense claim transactions by 75 per cent or more[1], and reduces the time to process expenses by 35 per cent[2].

What organisations need:
Everything has a cost associated with it, including expense reporting and travel bookings. While most organisations prefer to cut costs to maximise profit, they wrongly assume that these administrative overhead costs are unavoidable. Travel and expense management is one of the largest controllable expenses for an organisation so it can certainly pay to look for ways to cut the cost of these processes.

When it comes to travel management, organisations are realising that while they may have corporate travel policies in place, they may need to provide incentives to maximise travel policy compliance such as more flexibility in travel and accommodation booking choices, and eligibility for upgrades and loyalty points.

A supplier-led approach for business travel management can capture the 40-50 per cent of hotel bookings and the 28 per cent of air bookings[3] that are considered blind spend, or “leakage”, when employees choose to book outside of policy.

How automation can help:
Businesses can significantly reduce spend management costs through automation.

Take expense reporting, for example. The most significant cost associated with processing expenses can come in the form of time, and everyone knows that time is money in business. The average company processes about 100 expense reports per month, with each of those reports requiring attention from several different people along its path from start to finish. Every touch by an employee along the way presents an opportunity to save both time and money.

Companies whose employees use mobile expense reporting and travel apps for corporate travel save an average of 4.5 hours a month, which is an entire week every year (6.75 8 hour days), according to “Your 2013 Guide to Travel and Expense Management,” a report by the Aberdeen Group. That’s an extra week every year each of the company’s travellers can spend doing what matters most.

Organisations should be aware that automated travel and expense solutions can effectively alleviate employees’ frustrations by enabling them to focus on core duties, rather than administration. The result is improved employee morale, a better company culture and, ultimately, increased cash flow management and visibility, which will help with long-term business success.

When companies are stuck staring at endless spreadsheets, it’s hard to step back and see the big picture to focus on what really matters to the business and the employees.

Some companies are still leaving money on the table even though an accessible solution is readily available to cut costs and increase efficiency. If fear of change is the hold-up, there’s compelling evidence that overpaying for expense report transactions isn’t the only opportunity these companies are missing.

It’s important to remember that putting off expense automation and maintaining the status quo also carries liability beyond per-transaction costs. Having complete visibility into spending will help plan for the company’s future, manage cash flow, and assist in maintaining compliance. It also means that the company will be in the best possible position to meet employee expectations.

Organisations face enough challenges without having to worry about spend management capabilities. Upgrading tools from outdated to automated is the best way to reduce costs, boost bottom-lines and help focus on core business operations. Having the right technology infrastructure in place will help organisations support their employees and the company’s growth.

* Are you are involved in buying, managing, arranging or do you supply business travel? If so, BTTB Australia 2015 on 6th & 7th May in Sydney is a must-attend event for you. Click here for details on how you can attend FREE!  

 

Matthew Goss became Managing Director, for Concur, ANZ in 2013. He joined Concur in 2002 where he has held a number senior management positions including Country Manager, Concur Philippines and Vice President, Client Services Asia Pacific. Prior to joining Concur, Mr Goss held senior consulting positions with Captura Asia Pacific and Acumen Alliance.

Read more about Concur on their website: https://www.concur.com.au/

 

[1] Aberdeen Group research 2011

[2] Aberdeen Group research 2009

[3] IDC Concur Fusion 2014

About Author

Procurement and Supply Australasia (PASA) is the leading provider of information and education to procurement and supply professionals throughout Australia and New Zealand. PASA supports the largest community of engaged procurement stakeholders in the region, through its renowned series of events, publications, awards, plus various community and network building activities. PASA is a trading name of BTTB Marketing, for many years recognised as the leading producer of conferences and events for the procurement profession in Australia and New Zealand. Whether producing under the BTTB, CIPSA Conferences or now PASA brands over the last ten years, our events have consistently led the market in terms of both educational and networking opportunities.

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