How To Automate Your Travel And Expense Process
In theory, booking business travel and claiming reimbursements should be quite a simple process. However, this is not always the case. The travel and expense management process involves a lot of stages. A typical travel and expense management flow looks like this:
With so many stages in between, the traditional means of travel and expense management often leads to loss of productivity for finance teams & employees and cost for businesses. In addition to researching & making travel bookings, a lot of time is spent on taking approvals, data entry and verification of claimed expenses, sending timely-filing reminders, clarifying policies & processes to employees, expense reporting, etc.
Automating the entire process end-to-end can make it more transparent, save time & money and increase compliance and accountability. This blog will help you understand the parts that you can easily automate in your travel and expense process and the benefits of doing so.
The Path To Automation
After automating the various parts of your travel and expense process, you and your employees would spend less than half the time you spend while using traditional methods. Here’s how an automated T&E management flow would look like:
First things first. You should start by automating your travel and expense policies and apply them before submission via an integrated T&E management system. Make employees aware of travel and expense policy systematically to increase finance productivity and improve employee satisfaction. The travel and expense management software should automatically alert you about out-of-policy bookings to reduce back and forth with employees.
Here are all parts of the T&E management process that can be automated –
- Travel Booking – Think about a portal where when an employee starts booking a trip, the T&E software automatically shows her the expense limit so that she knows how much to spend. There are advanced solutions such as ITILITE that don’t show options of hotels or airlines that are out of policy for employees. So, your employees can book travel easily, in compliance with your policy!
- Expense Creation – You can automate this process where the employees won’t have to calculate their travel expenses. The software can calculate it for them based on the destination, real-time market rates, per diem charges, if applicable, etc. They can later add on the added expense they incur during the business trip and send it for approval.
- Approval Cycle – The request for travel and expense approvals can also be automated. These are helpful, especially in cases of exceptions, where the employee has booked over the expense limit. An employee booking over budget can automatically trigger an automatic approval from the manager. The expenses can be approved or declined instantly as and when the employee sends a request.
If approved by the manager, the expense report is then automatically sent to the finance manager/team. They won’t have to check the status of expense reports again and again. The digital audit trail helps the finance manager to know the justification for policy violations.
Also, you can choose to auto-approve travel requests based on certain criteria. For instance, if your employee is traveling for a day, she doesn’t need to go through the approval process.
- Expense Reporting – By automating this part of the travel and expense management process, you can save a lot of time for your finance teams as well as employees. With mobile integration, employees can directly upload photos of their receipts, and send details digitally, on the go. The T&E software can then extract the specifics from the receipts via the OCR technology and fill in expense details. Once all the receipts have been submitted, an employee can generate an expense report within minutes. The expenses can be reported on time as the process is simple.
- Data transfer into the accounting system – After approval from the finance team, you can set up an automatic data transfer process so that the accounting department knows that the reimbursement has to be made.
- Reimbursement – Processing reimbursements faster, after the finance team’s approval, helps in crafting a great employee experience. You can automate the entire reimbursement process, so that money can be put back to employees’ wallets sooner than before. You can set up a flow where the employee gets reimbursed as soon as approval comes from the finance team. Also, with an automated system, the employees will know the real-time status of their reimbursement via alerts.
- Analytics & reporting – When it comes to analytics, one cannot deny the benefits of automation. You can enable automated audits and do 100% checks (vs sampling) of all the expense reports. This will help you in detecting fraud. You can also expand the type of checks like duplicate, weekend, etc. You get all the travel and expense data on one single platform that could help you in knowing travel trends, setting budgets, etc.
Pick The Right T&E Management Software For Your Business
Automation helps in saving time and increases efficiency. It increases travel and expense policy compliance throughout the processes and helps finance managers in detecting fraud. ITILITE is an integrated travel and expense management platform that enables you to automate all your travel and expense processes seamlessly. Have a question? Schedule a meeting with our product demo expert today!