Why automated travel and expense management is one of the most profitable process optimisations

9 March 2021 - Reading time: 5 Minutes

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Traditional travel & expense management (T&E) is admin-heavy, time-consuming and vulnerable to errors, making it obsolete in the modern workplace. Forward-thinking companies are already automating the process in line with digital transformation goals. A leading software and technology solution not only empowers employees, including Payroll & HR teams, but can pay for itself in a matter of months through the insight and cost savings achieved.

For organisations looking to improve their core HR and people solutions, this blog explores the digitisation of T&E management and how it optimises several business areas.

T&E management is part of digital transformation

The most sustainable and competitive organisations today are those investing in digital transformation of processes. T&E management is a key part of this, moving away from paper-based systems to online platforms that automate workflows between departments. Technology includes OCR (optical character recognition), mobile apps, digital signatures, cloud-hosted compliance software and GPS route planning. This results in prompt remuneration, tax recovery, audit trails, transparency and financial insight. Employees are able to scan and submit receipts via their phone on-the-go, 24/7, which can be read digitally using OCR and converted into different currencies where necessary. A slick approval process allows managers to remotely sign off expenses in line with company policy, where any incidences of non-compliance are automatically flagged.

For business travel by car, GPS plots the most economical route and submits the final mileage, leaving no room for error, fraud or incomplete claims. Even travel bookings can be processed or pre-approved through integration with ERPs, saving potential disputes and lengthy reimbursements. Best-of-breed solutions improve the employee experience throughout the lifecycle, making organisations more attractive places to work and saving labour costs. What’s more, they are relatively quick to implement and require minimal user training, optimising processes immediately.

Mitigating expensive problems for improved efficiency

Automating T&E management eradicates many costly issues associated with legacy systems. Problems like missing paperwork, damaged receipts or the need for physical signatures delay the approval and reimbursement stage. Manually checking and processing expenses is not only inefficient but can cause duplications or miscalculations, potentially resulting in fines from HMRC following an audit / Employer Compliance Review. Automated workflows (from approval to finance) improve compliance, time-to-value and accuracy, giving HR more time for strategic projects.

With in-built legislation, cloud-hosted software ensures that latest tax rules are being adhered to, however complex, freeing up HR teams. It also expedites and maximises tax recovery within financial year deadlines for improved cashflow. It’s a common misconception that T&E paperwork needs to be maintained for HMRC purposes as digital expenses are now an approved method. With no need to securely store and dispose of unnecessary paperwork, this is another business saving.

Empowering the future workforce

The workforce is becoming more mobile and flexible, taking control of their own HR admin through online self-service platforms. As the employee experience is linked to retaining top talent in the modern workplace, slick T&E management engages employees. When claims are submitted and approved efficiently, this speeds up reconciliation of accounts, reimbursing employees promptly through Payroll. A clear audit trail on their digital (interactive) payslip also reduces in-bound queries to Payroll/HR, boosting productivity. Investing in T&E management is an ideal time to update and standardise the expenses policy, ensuring all claims are fairly assessed and approved. Contactless processes are also safer when trying to minimise touchpoints in the workplace or when teams are working remotely.

Financial insight and savings

Automated T&E management also benefits the business through rich data analysis and real-time visibility. By quickly running reports on expenses expenditure, managers can drill down into department spend, identify the profitable/expensive projects and where to target cost-savings. This informs future budgets by predicting ROI with accuracy and keeps costs on track in real-time. It also shapes decision-making on the expenses policy. The best people solutions providers will be able to offer configuration to your organisation, ensuring smooth implementation and integration with existing ERPs, payroll, accounting or travel booking systems. Negating hardware, cloud-hosted software is intuitive, up-to-date and secure, and of course scalable, making it a sustainable investment.

Summary

The workplace is evolving and processes must keep up. Traditional paper-based methods are not fit for purpose and pose risks to organisations. Automated T&E management benefits both people and business, with quick implementation and intuitive mobile apps. Besides improving the employee experience, it nurtures a culture of trust and transparency and provides rich financial insight. Everyone, including Payroll & HR teams, becomes more efficient, productive and engaged. Calculations are accurate and compliant with current and emerging tax regulations, avoid the hassle of rectifying mistakes and HMRC fines.

Through analytical tools, real-time visibility and control facilitates intelligent cost mapping, benefiting financial planning at all levels, including board level. A leading provider will work with organisations to integrate a solution with existing systems, paying for itself in just a few months.

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