No more glue sticks!
The Hamburg-based logistics specialist is transitioning to a digital model for business travel management based on two concepts: ‘end-to-end’ and ‘door-to-door’.
When it comes to digital transformation, the business travel industry has historically taken a bold approach, adopting online tools before business travellers had even got to grips with making reservations via the internet. Since then, companies have been aiming much higher. Their watchwords? ‘End-to-end’ and ‘door-to-door’. These terms represent the digitisation of the entire travel management process, from approval to billing, and the seamless booking of business trips, from the office to the destination.
Jungheinrich, a logistics specialist and manufacturer of forklift trucks, is among the companies that have already taken the leap. “Until a few years ago, the main tool we used for our expense claims was still a glue stick,” says Nils Neuenhüsges, head of indirect procurement at the Hamburg-based company, during the ITB Business Travel Forum in Berlin. “Now, our employees take photos of their receipts using an app, even while they’re still travelling.”
A Receipt Scanning App
Of Jungheinrich’s 17,000 employees, over 3,000 regularly take business trips on behalf of the company. The business has branches in 40 countries, with travel expenses amounting to almost 10 million euros a year. “Before, there was no interaction between the different components we used to manage our trips,” says Nils Neuenhüsges. “Each tool operated independently.” What’s more, almost a third of internal communications were related to expense claims.
Since then, the situation has changed dramatically: scanned receipts are now automatically associated with the booked trip, and information no longer needs to be entered multiple times. When booking, employees simply need to indicate the start and end points of their planned trip. The system – KDS Neo, in this case – then automatically searches for the most suitable means of transport for the entire journey (hence door-to-door). It also automatically synchronises any expenses paid for using company credit cards.
Automated Transport Search
Nils Neuenhüsges believes that this solution offers benefits for both employees and the company itself: staff are no longer forced to deal with all of their paper receipts upon their return, while the business makes savings on the costs of business trips thanks to the automated transport search feature, which allows for greater compliance with the company’s travel policy. For example, an employee’s preferred airlines may no longer be displayed if they are unsuitable for the planned trip.
But beware: going fully paperless, as Jungheinrich has done, is no easy feat. The Hamburg-based company discovered this fact to its cost: in the end, the project took twice as long as expected. Overseeing the change turned out to be much more complex than initially anticipated.
“If you want employees to embrace the new system, they need to be aware of the value that it offers,” states Nils Neuenhüsges. There are many possible ways to do this. Among other things, Jungheinrich provided an explanatory video, offered training and assisted with the first wave of bookings. “For business travellers, scanning their own receipts seems like extra work at first glance,” explains the head of procurement. “This kind of reluctance can only be overcome through good change management.”
Sufficient Human Resources
Another essential aspect, according to Nils Neuenhüsges, is having “significant human resources”. At Jungheinrich, no less than ten people were responsible for this in the project team: in addition to Travel Managers, the team included representatives from the purchasing department, the HR team and the IT department as well as the software service provider. The entire process was divided into several sub-projects, “and the first thing we did was to carry out a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the software available, including travel agencies”. The designers even had the staff association take part! Pilot phases were rolled out to a wide range of users before the solution, named JU Travel, was fully deployed around a year and a half ago.
Many receipts still have to be checked manually, but this is not the result of processing errors; instead, complexities linked to tax law and human errors in drawing up expense claims are usually the culprit. “There’s still a risk that digital receipts could be wrong,” warns Nils Neuenhüsges, who adds: “German tax law is very complicated.” A number of elements need to be taken into account when changes are made.
Jungheinrich, meanwhile, is already targeting its next objectives for the digitisation of travel management. On the agenda: the application of the company’s chosen policy worldwide (“but with a country-specific approach”) and the automatic calculation of reimbursements.
Jungheinrich: An Overview
The forklift truck remains the flagship product of Hamburg-based Jungheinrich, although the company now offers a wider range of solutions for all warehouse processes. Founded in Hamburg in 1953, Jungheinrich now generates a turnover of 3.4 billion euros and employs 16,000 people.
Nils Neuenhüsges is head of indirect material procurement at Jungheinrich; by extension, he is responsible for travel purchases. Over 3,000 of the company’s employees take business trips, costing a total of 10 million euros a year. The firm’s travel agency partner is American Express GBT, and it uses KDS Neo software.