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Corporate Travel Management – 3 Min Read

What Is Expense Automation, And Why Your Business Needs It

Sajit Chacko

Sajit Chacko

Co-Founder

Tripeur Travel Desk

Unfortunately, for numerous businesses today, proper expense management remains a significant pain point. The constant struggle to control and manage the spiraling costs of business trips without the right T&E management tools is ultimately making travel less of an opportunity and more of a burden. 

Why is this so? The problem lies with the inability of traditional expense management processes to effectively manage the rising complexity of business travel

Real-time expense transparency and visibility are capabilities that outdated manual expense management systems cannot provide, making it nearly impossible to enforce T&E policies or track and manage travel expenditures accurately. 

An excellent solution is to avoid such archaic processes and explore automated expense management and how it could mitigate the turbulent costs of your corporate travel.

In this article, we will cover the following:

This piece explores the benefits of expense automation, what differentiates it from traditional T&E management processes, and how it could benefit your organization. 

What is expense management automation?

Automated expense management is a complete rehaul of the troublesome traditional travel expense management process that leverages cutting-edge T&E automation technology to transform how businesses plan, implement, manage, and reconcile corporate trips. 

Expense automation is rapidly gaining recognition as the ultimate solution to helping companies that suffer from expense visibility, transparency, and management issues of traditional T&E management systems. 

Ultimately, automated expense management will lower trip costs, provide exceptional internal controls to stakeholders, slash processing timeframes, and make travel manageable on a granular level. 

Why do businesses need to automate expense management?

To understand the impact of an automated expense management system, let us first try and quantify the alternative spreadsheet-based system’s impact on your business. 

On average, each traveler performs over 300 transactions from corporate credit cards or personal funds at different moments of their business trip. When you manage and report such a high volume of transactions manually for each traveler through spreadsheets, it is likely that your finance team may mistakenly overlook issues arising from errors, inaccuracies, and indiscretions. 

Some of the most common sources of these issues are:

  • A finance team member who guesstimates the costs of a transaction due to insufficient information.
  • An employee mistakenly enters the wrong amount on the reimbursement form.
  • A traveler attempting to defraud your company by submitting a claim for a fabricated expense that did not occur.
  • A traveler mistakenly enters a single transaction multiple times on the claims form.
  • The finance team needs more information to reconcile expenses transacted on the trip.
  • The traveler damaged or misplaced expense receipts. 

It still requires a considerable amount of organizational resources to analyze invoices and expense reports to identify and fix such problems. While this soaks in, you should also know that according to the GBTA, a single expense report takes a finance team approximately 20 minutes and USD$58 to process.

Fixing an erroneous expense report takes an additional 18 minutes and USD$52 to review and rectify. This means a single inaccurate report may cost your business around US$110 to review, fix, and process

When your expense management system lacks visibility and transparency, it becomes increasingly hard to identify and rectify such erroneous transactions causing you to burn a big hole through your corporate travel budget. 

It is an especially alarming added cost for businesses engaging in frequent travel, which an automated expense management system can quickly resolve. 

How does automation compare to the traditional expense management process?

When one or more employees travel in an official capacity, they make a transaction, collect the physical receipts, fill in a tedious expense form detailing each transaction manually, and finally submit the receipts. 

The finance team then acquires the physical receipts, searches for discrepancies, reconciles them, and processes reimbursements. This is the general methodology behind traditional expense management systems. 

As simple as it may sound, it is a highly reductive and inefficient process that is well known to cause numerous problems that hinder expense management resulting in issues such as:

  • Inefficient invoice management 
  • Inability to enforce travel policies 
  • Failure to eliminate expense fraud
  • Delayed employee reimbursements
  • Increased errors and inaccuracies at every stage
  • Reduced trip productivity and ROI
  • Absence of Advanced Travel Analytics
  • Inflated travel costs

These challenges make tracking and managing expenses, generating accurate expense reports, performing reviews, and conducting reconciliations & reimbursements highly inaccurate.

On the other hand, through automated expense management, whenever the employee makes a transaction, they remotely upload a digital copy of the expense receipt onto the automated platform. The system then captures the essence of the receipt and performs automatic reconciliation. 

Following this, an expense report is automatically generated and sent to the finance team and other relevant stakeholders. The automated expense reports substantially reduce the reconciliation processing time to minutes, creating an enhanced, free-flowing corporate travel experience for all stakeholders involved. 

The finance team immediately has the necessary visibility and sufficient information to review the transactions, check policy compliance, and process speedy reimbursements. 

Businesses that engage in expense automation do not leave room for delays, policy non-compliance, inaccuracies, fraud, mistakes, and delays. The automated system shares the travel approval requests with all relevant stakeholders, which means all transactions happen with apparent management oversight. 

Expense invoice automation guarantees that travel expenses are promptly reported to the finance teams, managers, and admins in real-time, allowing them to maintain granular-level control over the trip budget utilization. The process does not require trust, nor is there a need for post-facto invoice collection or trip reconciliation. 

Moreover, expense management automation upholds corporate travel policy compliance during every stage of the business’s travel process.

Benefits of expense automation

If you still aren’t entirely convinced that you need an automated expense management system, read on to see some of its most notable benefits.

1. Visibility

Automated expense management delivers complete visibility into travel expenses at every stage of the travel process. This visibility extends to the travel budget, corporate travel policy, approval requests, employee expenditures, receipts, expense reports, and much more. 

This visibility enables administrators to analyze spending patterns and recurring payments to identify optimal budget utilization. This detailed view of how and what the traveler is spending allows admins to identify and differentiate between those expenses that are necessary and those that are not. 

Doing so will enable admins to eliminate wasteful costs affecting the trip’s ROI and use the information to optimize budgeting for future trips. It drives the traveler’s decision-making during every stage of the corporate process and is one of the most significant benefits of travel expense management automation. 

2. Ensure Policy Compliance

Automated expense reporting software enables your company and its departments to outline the corporate expense policy within the software. The software will then implement and make the policy visible among all relevant organizational stakeholders across your organization. 

Your employee will always know what they are allowed and disallowed to spend per the travel policy, enabling travelers to base every proposal and every expense on the travel policy’s limitations. 

When an employee exceeds the allotted travel budget or performs a transaction that does not comply with the travel policy, the system will instantly notify all the relevant administrators, including the finance department, with accompanying details. 

This visibility allows the managers, travel admins, and finance departments to swiftly take corrective measures to bring expenditures back under control. 

3. Reduced Delays

An automated expense management system eliminates the most pressing pain points of the T&E management process, such as redundant processes and delays. Expense automation removes the need to procure, store, maintain, and submit physical receipts. 

A significant issue in traditional expense management systems is that the reconciliation process would undergo substantial processing delays every time the traveler misplaces or damages a receipt. 

In such instances, the only way for employees to reduce the delay in getting their appropriate reimbursements is to secure and produce duplicate receipts and other supplementary documentation to prove the transaction’s legitimacy. Unfortunately, this may be a challenging task when involving international travel.

Through expense automation, the travelers capture the receipts on their mobile devices and upload them remotely at the time and place of the transaction. After this, they need not worry about the hard receipts. 

This way, the finance team remains in the loop and is provided detailed information on the expense. They can immediately study the expenditure report, review the transaction, check for discrepancies and compliance, perform reconciliation, and submit those compliant for reimbursements with the utmost accuracy. 

When you engage in expense report automation, you will find that you rid your employees of the repetitious, time-consuming, and frustrating task of manually entering expense data after trip completion. 

Instead, the automated expense management tool will do it for you upon every transaction and transmit it to all relevant departments and stakeholders without delay.  

4. Reduced susceptibility to fraud

Unfortunately, traditional expense management systems make corporate travel a prime target for fraud, including fabricated expense claims, falsified reporting, and multiple receipt processing. 

Automated expense reporting and management creates an ecosystem that dramatically reduces your susceptibility to expense fraud by creating a structured, transparent travel workflow with excellent internal controls and policy enforcement mechanisms. 

By removing trust from your processes and a robust software behind the wheel, you don’t leave any room for fraud to occur, cutting down your costs in the process.

In conclusion, the right automated expense management tool will guarantee you substantially reduce travel costs while achieving optimal trip productivity and ROI. It will allow travelers to focus on accomplishing travel goals rather than be held up with mundane tasks, messy processes, and complicated paperwork. 

A good recommendation is to find the right automated expense management tool that will help you dramatically bring down costs and enable you to enforce your corporate travel policy like never before.

Switch to automated expense management with Tripeur

Tripeur is a stellar automated expense management platform that provides users with a full-scale T&E expense module that addresses, solves, and simplifies all challenges facing your expense management. 

Our T&E management platform keeps the CFO, admins, managers, and the finance department in the loop through expense alerts and reports on all stages of the travel booking experience. 

Engaging in our platform is an excellent way to maximize trip productivity and ROI like never before. Our user-friendly software can perpetually fix your expense management inefficiencies and dramatically curb costs like never before.

By now, you should understand how the ancient traditional spreadsheet-based processes make it almost impossible to enforce your T&E policy and accurately manage your corporate travel expenditures. 

Steer away from manual expense management and explore what Tripeurs automated T&E management platform can do for you. Contact us to find out more about how you can automate and streamline your expense management systems. 

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