Approximately 20 minutes. That’s the average amount of time it takes to process an expense report, according to a study by the Global Travel Business Association. Do that for the dozens, hundreds, or thousands of employees filing quarterly expenses, and suddenly hours are exhausted on a process that should take seconds for a single transaction.
It’s been this way for decades with legacy travel and expense (T&E) programs enlisting lengthy and cobbled-together booking processes while inputting business expenses by hand with crumpled-up receipts. As businesses look to drive down costs in inflationary environments, improved travel management and expense reporting processes stand out as an obvious opportunity. T&E makes up an average of 10% of companies’ overall budgets, according to the Aberdeen Group,yet finance teams lack two significant processes: control and visibility. As a result, finance teams can neither identify opportunities to drive cost savings nor implement spending policies at scale when companies seek to capitalize on their growth.
Many disparate legacy solutions will point fingers, blaming one another for gaps in technology. The reality is that these systems were built to manage different needs at the moment rather than build connections that work cross-functionally. The solution: leverage technology that is constantly synchronizing with itself. An all-in-one solution that consolidates travel, corporate card, and expense management through a completely automated process can cut costs without cutting back on growth.
Why scalability makes a difference
Consider an early-stage startup. When directing finances, companies typically aim to procure corporate cards and expense management tools that meet their immediate needs. But if the company goes with traditional solutions supplied by multiple vendors, they build a disparate and incompatible tech stack. What happens when that startup goes from 50 employees to 250? Or 500? What if the company opens offices worldwide and the workforce becomes global? In that case, the piecemeal T&E vendors won’t be able to quickly scale with the startup’s growth, travel needs, and expense report process in multiple countries. Attention is pulled away from the core business at a crucial period.
By failing to implement a scalable solution and drive down costs earlier in a company’s journey, financial leaders also miss the opportunity to future-proof. The idea of future-proofing is not about picking software that will match what an organization is projected to look like ten years from now, but instead, creating an infrastructure that will not need to undergo significant changes as the company grows. In an era when technology is creating a more connected world, future-proofing ultimately calls for software built to thrive in such a hyperconnected environment.
With the new year fast approaching, business leaders and finance teams are encouraged to plan for that economic momentum. Whether you are building your team in your first office or deploying employees worldwide, TripActions compiled the ultimate guides for making T&E money moves in 2023. Before scrolling, download the Essentials Reading Kit: Financial Planning for 2023 and stay ahead of your T&E management.
Setting proactive expectations
When Patreon, a membership platform that provides business tools for content creators, entered a period of hypergrowth, they realized they needed to make the switch to a spend management system that could keep up with their pace. Systems existed that could grant them some processes they required, but they were tied to U.S. operations and would put a strain on intercompany transfers and finance teams.
Instead, Patreon chose TripActions, the only all-in-one travel, expense, and corporate card management system that is capable of international functionalities other systems have yet to deploy, such as direct reimbursements into employee bank accounts in their local currency.
“Going with TripActions future-proofed our T&E program, which is critical when we plan to double our headcount and enter new regions in the next year,” said Crystal Ryu, Senior Director of Financial Operations at Patreon.
If a business is driving long-term success, it’s crucial to invest in partners that will scale with the company at every step, especially when expansion becomes rapid. Rather than attempting to find multiple travel and expense technologies that will hopefully sustain one another in the long run, an all-in-one solution orchestrates all moving parts simultaneously.
TripActions, in particular, utilizes dynamic price policies, so travel managers can set one policy that dynamically adjusts to every market worldwide based on fair-price calculations. At its current rate, the global SaaS-based expense management market is expected to surge to $6.6 billion by 2028. And modern travel solutions will also see similar growth.
Controlling costs strategically
With an all-in-one T&E solution like TripActions, businesses can not only optimize the expense process and meet their employees’ needs as they scale, but also control spending during uncertain inflationary periods, which ultimately helps save budgets and headcount.
Here’s how it works: Employees aren’t just given ordinary corporate cards. Instead, they use tech-enabled smart cards that reconcile each transaction as soon as it happens. Policies are automatically checked and applied, transaction details are immediately captured and categorized, and expenses are instantly submitted. The T&E process goes from card swipe straight to the ERP (enterprise resource planning) software, completely automating expense report submission, approvals, and policy compliance.
By automating away the time-consuming steps of T&E, finance teams and employees save over eight hours per week, according to a 2022 analysis by Forrester Consulting. That’s four days a month delivered back to revenue-driving work, freeing up businesses to focus on what moves the needle.
The innovative technology behind smart cards also gives finance teams greater control and visibility into spend. Company administrators can set proactive spending controls based on role, department, expense category, or business context, among other potential factors. Suppose a chief revenue officer and enterprise sales team are visiting New York, for example. In that case, the CRO’s spending parameters will have a different set of controls compared to other team members.
Since these controls are built into the cards and auto-enforced at the point of sale, businesses can confidently distribute cards to their workforce and maintain authority over every transaction. Meanwhile, total expenses are tracked on a real-time dashboard showing finance teams where and how employees spend anywhere in the world — whether it’s from traveling road warriors or remote employees expensing what they need from home
When planning travel and expense strategies in the near and long-term future, companies have two choices regarding financial readiness: Proactively preparing for growth and potential turbulence or risking inefficiency by failing to anticipate changing needs.