Corporate travel and expense management is not the toughest task in the world. After all, a traveling executive has to prepare an expense report, get it verified, and submit the same to claim reimbursement. This sounds simple enough in theory. However, in practice, what increases the complexity is the lack of a streamlined process which in turn leads to an increase in the processing time. To reduce processing times and to streamline the process, organizations can use tools like online expense management software. How can this expense management software improve efficiency?
One of the reasons for these long processing cycles is the use of external agents. Most organizations seek the help of an external travel desk to make their travel bookings. Instead of this, why can’t the organization manage its own travel booking in-house? Why not gain access to a travel portal and give employees the chance to book their own tickets? Most employees today are familiar with online ticket booking and those who are not can be taught easily. While preparing a pre-trip expense report, the employee can also book the ticket and send both for approval. This also has the added advantage of enforcing corporate travel policy. You can configure the travel portal in such a way that only those flights that fall under the company’s policy will show up. This also ensures that the supervisor approving the reports will have a much more complete picture of the expense that this trip will result in.
Another reason for long processing cycles is the formation of bottlenecks in the process. This results from inefficient workflows and over-centralization of certain actions without having adequate backups. Take the example of a supervisor who has to approve an expense report, only after which the report will move on to the next step. The more the supervisor delays, the more the pile up and the more the bottleneck. If the supervisor was, say, out sick, then the bottleneck only increases. Expense software has a counter to this as well. As it is an online application, it can be accessed anywhere. Also, it gives the scope for setting backups in case of such emergencies. But before this, expense software ensures that the process is streamlined and there are no bottlenecks.
Another inevitable reason for long processing times is manual processes. Because every activity has to be undertaken by human beings and because there is little to no automation in the process to save time for employees, processing cycles become bigger and bigger. A simple example is the verification of expense reports against receipts. On average, if an expense report has 10 line items backed by 10 receipts, imagine the time it would take to verify hundreds of expense reports. However, activities like this can be automated using online expense management software so that employees need not waste their time. By completing tasks that normally take days in minutes, processing times can be brought down.