The New Frontier of T&E Expense Management: 7 Tech Features to Tame the Beast

The New Frontier of T&E Expense Management: 7 Tech Features to Tame the Beast

In two previous blogs, Why T&E Should Matter to CFOs Part I and Part II, I have established that T&E should matter to CFOs, and that T&E expense management does not gets its due. It is also clear in looking at T&E trends that travelers and companies are changing how they spend due to advancements in technology. A few prime examples of this fact attributable to the Certify SpendSmart™ Report for the first quarter of 2015 and Certify’s Annual Expense Management Outlook: T&E Trends and Bookmarks for 2015, respectively:

  1. The percentage of spend of Uber vs. Taxi vs. Car Rental has risen from 9% to 29% from the 1st quarter of 2014 to 2015.

  2. Almost 80% of company travel is booked via an online booking tool or online travel sites.

It only makes sense that technology offers the key to improving compliance with T&E policies, removing pain points for travelers in reporting expenses, and removing inefficiencies in T&E processes relative to expense reporting, approvals, accounting, and reimbursement. The following represent just a few incentives for CFOs to look at adopting the best of what of T&E expense management related technology has to offer:

  1. Using an integrated online travel booking system to control the expense before it occurs (used by 87% of all best-in-class companies*).

  2. Mobile applications ensure compliance to policies and reduce expense-processing costs by 65%; the #1 feature in selecting expense vendors by 45% of companies.*

  3. An end-to-end expense management system can provide a robust platform to help streamline process and automate controls.

Here are the seven tech features that are redefining the landscape of T&E expense automation:

  • Credit Card Integrations—automated data feeds of corporate credit card transactions removes the reconciliation process, saving countless hours and costs.

  • Mobile Receipt Capture—employees take a photo of a receipt with their smartphone instantly turning it into an electronic receipt. With mobile technology employees can never lose another receipt, even if they lose their phone.

  • Online Expense Report Creation—create, submit and approve expense reports online from any location, anytime. That means no more time-consuming spreadsheets with fewer reporting errors and an expedited the reimbursement process.

  • Direct Feeds—automated feeds sync data with accounting and HR systems. This also eliminates redundant manual data entry, plus with one central system it’s easy to pull data for reporting into a range of important factors.

  • AutoFill (parsing) technology—electronically extracts receipt and expense data from paper receipts to streamline the reporting process, eliminate manual data entry and reduce errors.

  • Automated expense report creation with scheduled build days—automatically builds and prepares reports for users to review and submit for approval with customizable email reminders and optional manager notification of noncompliance. A single, familiar platform for creation and approval simplifies the process for everyone.

  • Automated approval workflows—instantly notifies managers of reports pending approval, decreasing expense report lifecycle and employee reimbursement times. No longer do employees have to wait and see, and managers no longer have to wait on answers from accounting or other departments about the status of reimbursements.

The final three are what I see as the most potentially game changing, as someone who still has scars from trying to tame a T&E beast back in the early 2000s and after speaking directly with hundreds of CFOs who continue to battle for T&E expense visibility, control and management. If your company is not up to speed on T&E expense related technology you may do well to ask yourself: What is it costing my company to be behind the technology curve in the arena of T&E expense management?

Ernie Humphrey - CEO Thought Leadership 360
Written By Ernie Humphrey
Guest Contributor

Ernie currently serves as the CEO of 360 Thought Leadership Consulting. 360 Thought Leadership Consulting helps companies define and unlock the strategic value of their thought leadership programs. Formerly, Ernie served as the Vice President, Educational Programs for Proformative, and the as the Director of Treasury Services and as a Director of the Corporate Treasurers Council for the Association for Financial Professionals. Ernie has a BS and MS in Economics both from Purdue University.