The Evolution Phase of Travel and Expense Management

Every industry has undergone major changes as technology evolves. Similarly, expense management industry has undergone some advancements as technology evolves. The first era of expense management was receipts stapled to expense reports. This really created a pain for corporate travelers and made the process cumbersome moving through the approval and reimbursement processes.

The second phase was the introduction of expense report software, which automated the entire reimbursement cycle. Expense report automation made the processes easy for both submitters and approvers and streamlined the process workflows while making improvements to the processes.

The third phase is simplifying expense management process: user-friendly mobile app, OCR to auto-scan receipts and creating expense line items. Other features such as integrations with a credit card and travel service providers make the process even easier by automatically getting the things done. Enforcing business rules and policies automatically alleviate the risk of out-of-policy submissions and increased costs. On the other hand, integrations with external applications such as QuickBooks, and ACH payments streamline internal business processes.

One thing that is common in each phase of expense management is the focus on cost control and compliance. By automating the expense reporting processes and minimizing the amount of time required to submit and approve, the cost of expense management process is minimized. By automatically enforcing corporate travel policies and monitoring fraudulent spend, compliance can be maintained and wasteful spend can be eliminated.

The fourth phase is the impact of actionable spend intelligence on the expense management. The focus will be less on reducing spend and more on making it more impactful. This is not about leveraging data to negotiate discounts with suppliers; instead, it is all about knowing how to optimize future spend.

All the departments including the sales and accounts are responsible for 50% of organization’s T & E spend are required to log in every prospect and interaction in their CRM solution.

The CRM software stores data for these interactions – the system will track whether an opportunity was won or lost and how much revenue was generated out of it. An expense report system also features all the details of spending incurred by the sales department. Maintaining two applications is the problem, often used by different parts of the organization. Not integrating these two systems made it almost impossible to analyze how sales department T & E spend has an impact on revenue generation. Cloud-based CRM solutions can easily integrate with multiple solutions and capture spend easily.

We can see how expense solution successfully integrates CRM data with the spend data and deliver clear and actionable insights into the next evolution in expense management. This would have a big impact on how organizations create T & E budgets. By allocating each spend category to a specific sales opportunity within the expense solution and combining this with the revenue, you can get granular insight on specific opportunities and activities. This would give greater visibility into trends for the sales department and you can find the minimum budget you have to allocate to deliver a dollar of revenue. Which activities are more likely to deliver a sales outcome?

As organizations start to adopt expense report solutions, the finance departments will witness a real impact of T & E spending.