2016 Expense Management Trends

Annual T&E Outlook and Benchmarks

Expense Management insights from leading finance Professionals.

With results from more than 500 CFOs, controllers and finance professionals (non-customers), the Certify 2016 Expense Management Trends report offers analysis on the state of expense management today, plus a preview of where things are headed in 2016.

Review complete 2016 survey data below. You can also download the 2016 survey infographic and white paper for additional insights and trend analysis.

View the infographic version of the 2016 Expense Management Trends Report


The 2016 Expense Management Trends report collected responses from 508 CFOs, controllers and accounting professionals with direct responsibility for expense management.

Role in Expense Reporting
Controller/CFO/Other - I report on company T&E expenses 61%
Accountant - I approve/reimburse expense reports 14%
Manager - I approve expense reports on behalf of my employees 14%
End user - I submit expense reports 11%
Title/Position in Company
Owner, CEO, CFO, CIO, Vice President and Director 46%
Manager, Controller and Accountant 45%
Accounting Staff, Administrator and Consultant 9%
Company Size
Small Business (fewer than 100 employees) 46%
Midsized Companies (101 -999 employees) 45%
Enterprise (1000+ employees) 9%

Current State of Expense Management

Survey participants were asked about the various systems they currently use to manage expense reporting, features and integrations, processing costs, and compliance and policy enforcement practices.

Current Expense Management System*

What system or process are you currently using to manage expense reporting?

Web-based solution (Concur, IBM, etc.) 38%
Microsoft Excel/Spreadsheets 35%
Pen and paper 10%
Homegrown Solution 5%
ERP/accounting package (Oracle, SAP, etc.) 12%
*Any process that uses Excel spreadsheets, pen and paper, or homegrown solutions is considered to be manual
Current Systems—Trending
System 2014 2015
Web-based 37% 35%
Manual 43% 50%
ERP 19% 15%
Expense Management Systems—Small Business
Web-based solution (Concur, IBM, etc.) 22%
Microsoft Excel/Spreadsheets 55%
Pen and paper 10%
Homegrown Solution 4%
ERP/accounting package (Oracle, SAP, etc.) 9%
Expense Management Systems—Mid-Sized Companies
Web-based solution (Concur, IBM, etc.) 37%
Microsoft Excel/Spreadsheets 37%
Pen and paper 9%
Homegrown Solution 4%
ERP/accounting package (Oracle, SAP, etc.) 13%
Expense Management Systems—Enterprise
Web-based solution (Concur, IBM, etc.) 46%
Microsoft Excel/Spreadsheets 16%
Pen and paper 4%
Homegrown Solution 6%
ERP/accounting package (Oracle, SAP, etc.) 28%
Expense Management Systems—Enterprise

Which features does your current expense report system offer?

Direct deposit via ACH 54%
Automated expense report build technology 40%
Mobile receipt-capture technology 36%
Mobile report creation and approval 35%
Instant reporting and analytics 30%
Live and online support for all users 26%
Multi-language, multi-curency capabilities 25%
Integrated travel booking technology 24%
Data Integrations

Which of the following integrations are you using or do you plan to implement with your travel and exense management system?

Feature Currently Implemented Will Implement No Plan to Implement
Credit Card Feed 49% 20% 31%
ERP (Oracle, SAP, etc.) 29% 21% 50%
CRM (Slesforce, etc.) 8% 14% 78%
A/P 49% 24% 27%
General Ledger 52% 25% 23%
Workforce Management 15% 16% 69%
Meeting/Event Management 8% 12% 80%
Expense Report Processing Costs

What is the average cost to process a single expense report at your organization?

Under $7 per report 28%
$10 - $20 per report 19%
$25 or more per report 5%
We do not track these costs 48%
Travel Booking systems

How does your company currently manage travel bookings?

Online travel sites 36%
Corporate travel software 11%
Travel agency/agent 16%
Combination of above 37%

T&E Policy

Does your organization have a written travel policy in place?
Yes 85%
No 13%
I don’t know 2%
Policy Compliance and Enforcement

If you have a policy, how does your company enforce its travel policy? (select all that apply)

Manually check each expense, matching it to corporate policy 43%
It is the responsibility of the employee to comply with T&E policy 31%
System automatically flags out of policy expenses for review 26%
Manually, only reviewing expenses with a high value 20%
Our T&E policy is not enforced 6%
Expense category spending limits

How does your company set T&E policy maximums for meals, hotel and airfare?

We do not have expense category limits 25%
Based on internal historical spending 25%
Follow U.S. GSA per rate guidelines 24%
Determined by annual budgeting process 20%
Other 6%
Employee Reimbursement Times

What is the average length of time from when an expense report is submitted to when reimbursement is received?

1 - 3 days 24%
4 - 7 days 39%
8 - 12 days 22%
21 - 30 days 5%
Over 1 month 1%

Expense Management Pain Points

What are your biggest pain points related to expense management? (select all that apply)
Employees losing paper receipts/submitting without receipts 50%
Employees failure to submit reports on time 45%
Time it takes to reconcile, review and approve reports 38%
Reviewing for policy violations 30%
Errors on expense reports (incorrect codes, amounts, etc.) 28%
Reconciling the data 27%
Lack of tansparency/visibility into expense report data 19%
Negative impact on company-wide budgeting or bookkeeping 7%
Other 3%
Pressures to Improve Expense Management

What are the top pressures driving your organization to improve travel and expense management? (select all that apply)

Poor visibility into expense data (spending, compliance rates, etc.) 37%
Lack of control over T&E 33%
Need to reduce expense report processing costs 32%
Lengthy reimbursement times 19%
Frequent instances of non-compliant travel/expenses 16%
Negative impact on company-wide budgeting or bookkeeping 11%
Lack of business traveler productivity 11%
T&E Areas of Improvement

Which of the following does your organization see as the most critical to improve in 2015?

Expense management process 37%
Transparency/visibility into reporting data 21%
Travel booking 11%
Mobility/mobile access 10%
Systems and data integration 9%
Software deployment 3%

Improving T&E Expense Management

Questions in this section of the survey were designed to understand the driving forces, considerations and implementation timelines for those companies planning to switch expense management systems.

Switching Systems

Is your organization planning to migrate to a cloud based expense management software?

Yes 14%
We’re evaluating vendors 29%
No, we will not be switching 55%
We have already made the switch 2%
Timeline for switching

If you are planning to upgrade your system, how soon do you plan to make the switch?

within the next 6 months? 33%
6-12 months 29%
12-24 months 26%
24-36 months 12%
Driving Factors Behind Switching Systems

What are the driving forces behind moving to a cloud-based/online expense management solution provider? (select all that apply)

Simplifying the expense reporting process for employees and managers 38%
Provide expense system accessibility from anywhere 20%
Gain reporting and analytics around T&E spend 20%
Improve employee compliance rates to corporate travel policies 13%
Reimburse employees faster 11%
Bring multiple finance and HR systems into one 9%
Increase frequency of expense report submission 8%
Expected Benefits of Switching

If you plan to move to a cloud-expense system, what benefits does your organization hope to achieve (select all that apply)

Faster reimbursements for employees 7%
Increased frequency of expense reports submitted by employees 14%
Increased insight into travel and entertainment spend 24%
Decreased/elimination of manual data entry 32%
The Reduction or elimination of Excel/spreadsheets 34%
Reduced time spent creating and approving expense reports 37%
All of the above 39%
Must-Have Expense Management Features

When selecting a cloud-based expense management system, what are the most important features for your company? (select all that apply)

Simplicity/ease of use for employees 66%
Expense management automation 53%
Mobile applications/accessibility 43%
Integration with HR/finance systems 37%
Reporting and insight into spend 36%
Functionality to enforce travel policy 33%
Rapid deployment and onboarding 25%
Integrated travel booking solution 23%

Benefits of switching to an automated system

For those companies that upgraded expense management systems, questions were asked about the benefits they achieved, as well as tactics and timelines for realizing a return on investment.

Actual Benefits Achieved By Switching

As a result of switching to a cloud-expense system or ERP, has your organization experienced any of the following benefits?

Faster reimbursements for employees 39%
Increased frequency of expense reports submitted by employees 22%
Increased insight into travel and entertainment spend 37%
Decreased/elimination of manual data entry 42%
The Reduction or elimination of Excel/spreadsheets 44%
Reduced time spent creating and approving expense reports 42%
All of the above 32%
Timeline to Return on Investment (ROI)

Since implementing a cloud-expense solution or ERP system, how long did it take to recoup the initial investment (ROI)?

Less than 6 months? 33%
7-12 months 41%
13-24 months 18%
24-36 months 8%
Companies achieving Full ROI in 1 year or less
All companies 74%
Small business 87%
Mid-sized companies 74%
Enterprise 66%
Companies achieving Full ROI in 2 years or less
All companies 92%
Small business 87%
Mid-sized companies 93%
Enterprise 91%
How ROI was achieved

What are the ways you were able to chieve a return on investment from a new expense management system? (select all that apply)

Improved efficiency/expense reporting process 58%
Reduction in processing costs (less paper, postage, storage, etc.) 53%
Increased employee productivity 26%
Elimiation of payment for duplicate expenses 22%
Reduction in overhead/staffing requirements 22%
Travel booking control (pre-trip authorization, etc.) 21%
Reduction in fraudulent expenses 16%
More accurate mileage tracking/mapping 15%
Added value for accounting functions

Since switching to expense report automation, are you using the system (data, integrations, etc.) to enhance any of the following accounting and/or finance-related functions? (select all that apply)

Annual budgeting and planning 44%
Auditing 43%
Invoicing and payments 39%
Regular forecasting (monthly, quarterly, etc.) 28%
Financial reporting (Sarbanes-Oxley, SEC, etc.) 25%
Procurement/vendor negotiations 18%
Identifying asset misappropriation (fraud) 14%