Author: Matt Goss, managing director – Australia & New Zealand, Concur
The corporate world’s next big success driver is likely to be strategic travel and expense management integration. Already, best-in-class businesses are breaking down the barriers between their travel and expense management, and other financial systems, to get a better understanding of their data.
Many organisations struggle to get a clear view of expenses across departments. This is exacerbated when organisations have information silos in place. Removing these silos and integrating diverse information repositories can unlock a broader and more comprehensive view of complex operations. This lets companies leverage otherwise-untapped resources in new ways.
However, removing silos for a broader view of an organisation’s operations, data and finances is only the first step. Companies also need to efficiently integrate the information presented by various systems and technologies to drive savings and productivity. This is particularly relevant to reducing the cost of managing travel and expenses.
While some companies have automated certain processes with multiple technology platforms to help push efficiencies, they are yet to see greater visibility and reap the potential savings that effective integration can produce.
Companies now live in a data-driven world, where automation is no longer the be-all and end-all solution to back office challenges. Incomplete integration across business-critical applications can result in multiple handoffs. The burden of having to manually manage data movement results in fragmented systems and data trapped in silos. Integration solves these issues and can be particularly valuable when it comes to managing business travel. Speaking of integration, software such as Paxata are there to help make the process of collecting data and data preparation a lot easier to manage.
Strategic integration can also provide visibility into company spend and help clearly outline the best path to successfully negotiating volume discounts and long-term deals with suppliers.
Previously, companies have had to rely on data from their travel management company. However, when travellers book directly and not with a chosen travel management company, the data that can be essential to informing special deals with suppliers may be almost impossible to track, consolidate and report on.
An integrated solution can fix that problem, while also providing companies with the tools and the information to refine their travel and expense policies, better reflecting employee behaviour and often leading to much happier staff.
In Australia, where the vast distances and small population mean working remotely is often a necessity, organisations that can better-manage their travel-related expenses can achieve significant savings, improving their bottom-line.
In fact, Roy Morgan Research estimates that, in the 12 months to September 2014, more than 2.1 million people, or 11 per cent of the Australian population, took at least one flight for domestic business travel, that’s a lot of travel to manage.
As well as paying for flights, cars and accommodation, employers must also factor in the administrative costs of booking and managing travel. Lots of businesses today are starting to look at corporate housing solutions to help cut on costs, you can click here to learn about short stay lodging, especially if your employees travel regularly.
However, organisations with the right technology can control these expenses. In the same way that automating expenses can decrease the cost of expense claim transactions by 75 per cent, integrating travel and expense administration in a single solution can save a company a substantial amount of time, money and effort.
There are a number of specific areas of integration that are key success enablers for companies looking to boost productivity and remove unnecessary costs.
These include online travel booking, which provides a real-time view of current travel spend against corporate budgets, making visibility available when it is needed for decision-making rather than at the end of the month. Meanwhile, corporate card integration can create an holistic process for expense management, offering a complete picture of company travel and expense spending.
Likewise, end-to-end travel and expense management can help organisations connect critical data and streamline processes, while mobile travel and expense applications make it more convenient for employees to create, submit and gain approval for expenses.
Finally, expense management as part of a broader financial suite can connect travel, expense and enterprise resource planning data in a single location for vastly-improved decision-making across the organisation.
The impact of these key areas can be even greater when supplier and partner connections expand outside the four walls of a business. By connecting with partners, breaking down silos and integrating travel and expense data across the board, companies can optimise analytics and use that insight to reach the next level of success.
Concur provides full visibility into employee spend and the ability to ensure policy and compliance, read more here: https://www.concur.com.au
 Aberdeen Group Research 2011