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October 1, 2020

Common T&E Pains in Today’s Enterprise

Managing T&E isn’t easy--especially for the global enterprise. It’s made even harder when using antiquated, legacy T&E tools which often force enterprises to choose between ease of use, compliance, efficiency, and cost. In fact, most enterprises have had to stitch together multiple, disparate systems, including online booking tools, travel management companies, and payments and expense solutions as an attempt to solve the challenges of the legacy TMC model on their own. This fractured approach causes avoidable challenges and delays for many organizations.

The most common pains in the enterprise around travel and expense management discussed below are in fact driving many enterprises to modernize their T&E platform and partner now, so they’re in the best position to succeed as the economy recovers and corporate travel resumes en masse.

Inefficient, “leaky” T&E program

Does your T&E program leak? This happens when employees choose to book travel outside of the approved channels--not uncommon in enterprises using legacy T&E solutions--and then later submit the trip for reimbursement via expense report. These expense reports may take weeks or months to make their way to the finance team, which obscures real-time visibility into and control over spend.

Similarly, employees making non-travel purchases may rely on the most generous interpretation of the corporate expense policy. In either case, the process of waiting for expense reports to be submitted puts the burden on the finance team to identify and deny out-of-policy purchases--the proverbial needle in the haystack. Delayed reporting and visibility into real-time spend causes many companies to exceed their T&E budget. When the T&E program leaks, finance teams are left cleaning up the puddle, wasting time on low-value work.

Last year--even before the pandemic--56% of CFOs surveyed by Robert Half Management Resources reported they’d seen an increase in the number of inappropriate reimbursement submissions over the last three years. Now, while many employees are working from home, that disconnect may be even greater.

Spotty duty of care

In the time of COVID-19, duty of care, that is ensuring the safety of your employees, must be top of mind. Yet due in part to the low adoption due to leakage mentioned above, even the most earnest of enterprises may have difficulty fulfilling consistent duty of care for their employees. Issues with spotty duty of care came to light back in February and March when many enterprises didn’t have real-time data on where their employees were, had been over the previous 14 days, or where they were headed to protect them while traveling for work. Now is the time to address this gap--before employees are back on the road. Lack of visibility into traveler location means that travelers may be at risk, and should anything happen, your HR and travel teams will be forced to scramble to track down and communicate with your employees.

Duty of care is worth prioritizing because it’s simply the right thing to do for employees. But here’s another reason: Companies with “exemplary safety, health and environmental programs” outperformed the S&P 500 by between 3 and 5 percent, according to a 2013 study.

Poor employee experience

Many legacy corporate travel booking tools are focused on the enterprise, not the user. On the surface that may sound good for the enterprise, but in reality, it needs to be the other way around, first solving the needs of the traveler to be able to effectively solve the needs of the enterprise. By focusing on the user, with consumer-like ease of use, unrivaled inventory, machine learning-driven personalization and best-in-class 24/7 travel agent service, travelers willingly use the platform which gives enterprises high adoption and the resulting visibility and control required to protect travelers, control costs, and save money.

Conversely, should your employees be stuck with all the hassles around booking and changing the travel they’re doing on behalf of your organization--in addition to their primary job duties? Employees certainly have done so in the past, but they shouldn’t have to. Letting employees focus on achieving their goal for a business trip is invariably a higher return activity than waiting on hold for 45 minutes to deal with a last-minute flight cancellation.

Another challenge that business travelers often face is limited inventory choice in the corporate online booking tool, which leads to low adoption and low employee satisfaction across traveling employees. Limited inventory may even cause employees to “go rogue” and book outside of approved tools, which may lead to the next pain.

A Boston Consulting Group survey showed that even beyond compensation, the biggest factors in employee satisfaction are things like being appreciated for good work, feeling like the company valued you as a person, and opportunities to learn and develop. One way to influence all three of these is through the impact of employee travel.

Opaque ROI

The rule of thumb is, for every $1 spent on business travel, your enterprise receives $12.50 in return, according to Oxford Research. While that’s a handy data point, most enterprises would like to know what the return is specific to their business. This requires being able to drill down into the company’s unique spend patterns. This knowledge can inform what types of travel should be permissible, negotiate supplier relationships, and make informed decisions around meetings and events when they return.

Unfortunately, many legacy T&E solutions have complex or opaque fees that must be reconciled manually before you can even approach an ROI calculation. Inconsistent policy compliance adds to that challenge. When T&E spend is spread out across many disparate systems, these assessments can only be done infrequently, with a heavy manual lift, and thus prevent an enterprise from being agile and responsive to changing business conditions.

Do any or all of these sound familiar? If so, fear not. Today’s modern T&E platform addresses these pains and enables the enterprise to achieve greater efficiencies--which will strongly influence a company’s success in the current economic climate. Explore a fresh approach to T&E in the recent on-demand webinar Modern T&E for Business Recovery.

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