There’s a study that we run in the commercial payments industry every other year that looks at different trends in business travel payments. One of the areas we research is how companies are managing the expense claim and reimbursement process.
We’ve seen a steady growth in the number of companies using an automated expense tool with pre-populated data coming from their corporate card. Across all companies surveyed in North America – from the small to the very large – today, 44% have installed an automated system with integrated card data.
If that last sentence didn’t make you pause, read it again. Less than half of companies in North America have implemented a fully automated and integrated expense management system. If you work at one of the 44%, you should be very happy – you may think the product could be better, but you’re already way ahead of the rest. If you’re still running on a system that requires manually inputting information (and please tell me it is not into a spreadsheet) and sending off paper copies of receipts and invoices, wake up!
There are many reasons your company needs to upgrade to an automated expense management system – but I‘ll just hit three of the bigger ones for now.
1. Tremendous time savings. Multiple studies from different sources repeatedly confirm that the time it takes to complete and process an expense report from beginning to end would be cut in half or more through an automated tool that is prepopulated with card data. We’re talking about cutting out an average of 30 minutes per expense report. If your travelers, their managers and your accounting teams don’t have better things to do with their time than deal with a manual expense report, I’m shocked.
2. Reduced audits and reduced fraud. With prepopulated data and an automated system that can scan and spot suspicious or out-of-policy transactions or entries, the opportunity and instance of fraud or abuse of expense money will drop significantly.
3. It’s easier than ever. Today’s top solutions are web‐based, in the cloud and mobile. Integration of card data is standard, and making these tools work with your accounting systems doesn’t require a major system overhaul. If you thought the project would be too big to justify the benefits, look again.
Let’s make the expense report a tool to drive a successful travel program and not the most hated part of business travel.