Travel and expenses are not always managed centrally together, but nonetheless, travel and expenses always go hand-in-hand—and accordingly, when choosing an expense management solution, your travel manager should be a key player in the conversation.
Whether or not your intent is to integrate travel and expense as a function internally, understanding travel’s needs and how to meet them is critical when reviewing business expense management software. Generally, this need is twofold:
- Meeting the basic requirement of allowing individual travel spend (air, car, hotel, meals, etc.) to be reported for reimbursement
- Providing expense data for travel’s purposes
What If I’m Using a TMC to Book Corporate Travel?
For companies using a Travel Management Company (TMC), booking data via the TMC will be the primary source for travel needs, from reporting to sourcing, negotiations, and other insights to drive decisions and savings. Expense data, even if choosing the top business expense software that meets your every need, will still include the clutter of auxiliary expenses, and with meals, Wi-Fi, and other small expenditures in the mix, and never line up exactly with travel data. Enforcing how your travelers allocate expenses – itemizing hotel folios, allocating seat or baggage charges appropriately, etc. is important.
However, making sure your internal systems support the need for specific, concise expense types that can be used as a standard across all BUs or all countries, is equally as important.
What If My Expense Data is Captured by Software?
However, when your expense data is captured by expense software that allows travel data to be clearly identified and compared, you can obtain a big-picture grasp of your leakage, travel being booked outside your TMC and out of policy (for more information on combating leakage, read more about leakage solution CapTrav and how it can help you leverage your program’s true volume for greater savings).
For companies without a managed travel program, an expense management solution becomes your primary insight into travel, a path to walk with caution: receipts are not rates, and from a travel perspective, the original price point of a flight or hotel stay is key. If you need this information parsed out for reporting, will your expense software be up to the task, or are you creating labor?
How much additional labor expense software creates for your employees, and whether the tool will be intuitive for their skillset, should be the primary question, even over price, when choosing business expense software. Make sure, too, to know what existing tools your company has in place for other functions of the business:
From a travel perspective, does your company use an Online Booking Tool (OBT)? Although you may not contract with a travel-booking tool directly, if using a Travel Management Company, your TMC likely provides you with online booking tool access. You are not limited in your choice of business expense software by which OBT you use, for example using Concur Travel does not oblige you to use Concur Expense, but you should consider the benefits of integration, what down-the-line problems it heads off, as part of your review. Even if not from the same software suite, some travel and expense software pair better than others. Egencia, for instance, has platform partners like Chrome River, Traveldoo, and others, which it can present for you via one frontend view, Egencia Integrated Travel and Expense.
How Can KesselRun Help?
KesselRun works with clients using a variety of expense management solutions. Top business expense software we often see in use are SAP Concur, Workday, and Chrome River, but while all three are terrific tools, the issue at hand is frequently how they were implemented and built-in respect to travel. Too often, travel considerations, such as GL accounts, policies, consistency of how travel is input by the employee, which should be built out in advance, are left by the wayside. Travel and expense become separate planets, following the same orbit but never touching directly, and expense data becomes useless to travel.
Technology updates are also changing the expense process: users taking pictures of their receipts, for instance, and using expense software that allows them to instantly upload those pictures from their phone can streamline the process. When your Travel & Expense credit cards are linked to your expense software, the credit card feeds can populate some expenses. Auditing software such as recent Emburse Audit expands on the process of automatically controlling your employees’ expenses with AI-powered auditing software, which offers a new opportunity to layer corporate travel policy in with expense. “Seamless” is a buzzword for travel and expense, and new technology increases helps with efficiencies to make this possible. Expense management software, chosen correctly, can streamline the experience from accounting through your travelers, but your choice of software and its setup are the real determinant, even more than the technology itself, will determine its effectiveness for your company, its use to your travel manager.
To delve into which top expense management solution might match your software needs, or what type of information your preferred software choice needs to better integrate with travel, reach out to KesselRun today. Expense data will never be your travel solution in and of itself, but with the right integration, you can utilize otherwise-wasted information as a powerful tool toward savings and a stronger travel program.