Apply automation to T&E to win the productivity battle

Marie Ligier | May 13, 2019

Travel and expense (T&E) make up a large part of a business’ operational cost, so when organisations win the T&E productivity battle, they’ve gone a long way to winning the cost savings war. One of the ways organisations can triumph over their budgets and fend off unnecessary costs is to automate the entire T&E process.

In fact, when the KDS Neo Travel and Expense (T&E) team calculated a rough estimate of the benefit of automating processes for mid-market businesses in EMEA, the number exceeded €150 billion in annual productivity savings alone! Given the evidence, it’s safe to say the value in automating processes is tangible.

But in order to apply automation to increase productivity and slash costs, finance teams must be thoughtful in their approach. They need to deploy smarter ways to book travel and process expenses, join forces with travel managers and create a winning strategy. KDS Neo serves over 1 million users around the world. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things on how to help them win the productivity battle. Here are some of our top tips and strategies.

Smarter ways to book travel and process expenses

Do you know how much employees are spending on airfare and hotel stays? Meals? Or even ground transportation? The best way to get that information is marry the finance process with travel booking. You apply your entire travel and expense policy to one single system and consolidate all of the data into one place. Plus, the system can map the expense data to the trip data and apply functionalities that help reduce errors, flag duplicate expenses and create a total view of cost per trip.

By integrating the two processes, you can streamline the entire, end-to-end T&E management workflow. For the travellers, when they book a trip, the system can apply expense rules that will help create and pre-populate an expense report automatically.

Pre-populated fields with the country, currency, dates and estimated costs for meals, make the process more efficient and intuitive  – meaning reports are filed faster and with fewer errors. When finance takes over the process, analytic codes are already there.  Consistency rules flag duplications or breaches in policy making the auditing process quick or even unnecessary.

On the flip side, showing employees the context of their expenses in relation to business trips, T&E platforms ensure employees don’t miss any reimbursements.

Putting all of this information in a calendar helps travellers easily review their trip expenses, ensuring they don’t forget a taxi ride or a quick airport snack.

Quicken workflows and ensure policy compliance

When an organisation’s policy and expense process is configured into the same tool, it means that approvals are logged more quickly too. If your policy is well defined, most bookings will be in-policy, so you can configure the tool to approve all in-policy bookings automatically. The system will only flag bookings when they are out of policy and need special approval.

With an integrated T&E system, there’ll be more efficiency in processing, faster reimbursement, and also better online adoption, which is a win for travel managers. Additionally, expense data will be more complete and more comprehensive, which is a win for finance too.

Beat fraud

Fraud, unfortunately, is an issue that every company faces. Whether it’s a mischaracterised expense, an inflated or duplicate claim, or even fake expenses, automating the expense platform will help you identify, prevent and control fraudulent employee behaviour in the future.

Below are some must-have T&E features for any company looking to minimize fraud:

  • Fully Configurable Approval Engine – A travel search engine with policy built-in ensures that the only trips that align with your company’s policies are allowed.
  • Automated Mileage Calculation – Integrated online maps for automatic mileage calculation minimise the potential for rounding up on mileage, or exaggerating distances.
  • Automated Expense Claim Build – Pre-populated fields and estimated costs mean that the bulk of the work in filing and processing expense reports is done automatically. This speeds up the process for both travellers and accounting.
  • Enhanced OCR & Image Reconciliation – OCR and AI technology make it easier and more logical for employees to submit true and authentic receipts on-the-go. This also means that the system can automatically map reconcile transactions from corporate cards with a trip to automatically create expense claims.

As the emphasis on global travel increases in the coming years, it will be up to companies and finance departments alike to find ways to save and optimise spend to ensure that business travel is an investment and not merely a cost.

By booking and filing better, teaming up with travel managers and minimising the potential for fraud, companies will be making a huge leap in the right direction to optimise their business travel finances and improving their bottom line.

Want an expense platform that fits the bill? Try out KDS Neo here!