From spreadsheet to automation
You can’t make progress without change—ask a lobster. Lobsters grow into their shell, and when they outgrow it, they shed the shell and grow a new one. The transition between one shell to the next leaves the lobster temporarily exposed, but makes growth possible. Business is a lobster. It progresses one step at a time, and you must make space for advancement. Change may not seem worth leaving the known comfort of the current, but “it always seems impossible until it is done.” -Nelson Mandela
Many businesses often feel trapped into continuing to use their current system because they worry about the cost to change: the cost of new software, the cost of implementation, or the cost of deploying resources to manage the project. When you automate expense management, the benefit far outweighs the cost.
The Hidden Cost of Manual Expense Management
On average, about 10% of a company’s budget goes to travel and entertainment expenses. If that 10% sifts through poorly managed expense management processes, it can negatively impact a company’s financial performance in a big way. According to a survey of 533 travel managers who use manual expense management and reimbursement surveyed globally by GBTA Foundation and HRS, on average:
- It takes 20 mins to complete one expense report
- It costs $58 to process one expense report
- 19% of reports contain errors
- Correcting one expense report takes 18 mins and costs an additional $52
In other words, the return of investing in a more efficient spend management system can add up to saved money, time, and effort. If you multiply the cost of human error and manual reporting per year, the numbers equal a staggering amount of revenue that could go towards other company improvements, and wasted time that employees can put towards working on tasks found in their job description.
Fortunately, deploying an automated solution to manage and report expenses easily simplifies the process while eliminating the redundancy that results from error. Let’s break down the benefits of automating expense management. The Top 7 Reasons to Automate Expense Management:
1. Anytime, Anywhere
Mobile applications extend travel and expenses software to your smartphone or mobile device. This enables employees to create and submit expenses quickly and easily while on the road – including photographing receipts and attaching them to the expense item. Mobile applications give managers the ability to approve claims from their smartphones, meaning they can approve on the move. As a result, efficiency improves as people focus on doing business, not managing expenses. Automated systems don’t sleep—they work nights, weekends, and holidays, processing reports in the background while you perform business critical tasks in the foreground.
2. Drive Cost Efficiency
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates
Worrying about the cost to change is a natural concern. Whether the cost of the new software, the implementation project, or the cost of using already-stretched, internal resources to manage the project weighs on your mind, we have good news for you.
Some companies base the pricing model on usage and not a one-off, large, upfront investment. An online wizard makes implementation quick and simple, with the option of some phone support as needed. Since the time to implement will not place a huge burden on your IT or Operations team, they can get back to helping new-hires navigate the company’s intranet (or intra-office politics).
This, coupled with the ability to link your expenses tool to your credit card and import data automatically into your expenses means that most of the data is pre-populated in the claim. This helps to reduce the cost of processing expense claims by as much as 78% per transaction. It also stores the created data in one location, making generating reports that much simpler. Ease of reporting translates to increased insight on spend.
3. Increase Visibility into Spending
Making intelligent business decisions without relevant data is not only difficult, it borders on impossible. An informed decision beats a hunch in today’s climate, and clear reporting has become an essential part of a well-oiled machine. Having expense information centralized makes it simpler to report on a multitude of performance indicators. Ease of use contributes to greater employee adoption, and raised perception of where spend actually goes in real time.
Clear insight is critical to the ongoing refinement of travel and expense policies, as well as identifying areas where a company could negotiate better deals with suppliers, where the business may be a victim of fraud, or indicating possible breaches in statutory compliance. It also helps to identify spending trends by mode of transport, by client, by country, or by employee, which help when managing spend going forward. Greater transparency gives managers the ability to recognize and eliminate areas of inefficiency, improving the overall budgeting and spending process.
4. Effectively Manage Risk & Fraud
“Fraud and deceit are anxious for your money. Be informed and prudent.” – John A. Widtsoe
Managing and mitigating the risk of keeping the business process up to date and fit for purpose challenge the savviest supervisor. When using a cloud-based solution, the risk lies on the shoulders of the provider rather than the customer.
Companies need to manage the risk of regulatory compliance. Using a platform that provides accurate data, that allows the business to integrate company policy, and which gives the business insight by enabling them to report quickly and easily on the travel and expense data is absolutely critical to mitigating the risk of operating outside of regulatory frameworks. Rules need enforcement; the best expense management platform has compliance built right in, eliminating the space for fraud.
Using an end-to-end solution to import feeds from travel suppliers and from corporate card providers means that data automatically pre-populates into the expense claim, reducing the chance for human errors.
5. Ensure Internal and Regulatory Compliance
Compliance often ranks high on the agenda for many companies—after all, the risks of noncompliance could result in fines and damage to both your bottom line and your reputation. Being aware of new regulations and managing all the related changes can be costly and time-consuming. When your business operates in multiple countries, that challenge increases, becoming even bigger and more complicated.
Automated expense management systems virtually eliminate the risks around regulatory compliance. They can apply complex tax rules and provide built-in auditing capabilities. Some go even further by capturing the data required for reporting on spend for corporation and income tax purposes.
6. Maintain Flexible and Scalable Expense Processes
SaaS or cloud-based softwares make managing expenses easier and virtually eliminate associated risk. With this type of software, you will incur minimal implementation project costs. Some expense management systems require implementation costs. If they do, it’s recovered quickly through the savings made by having more visibility and greater control over travel and expenses.
In addition, using a cloud-based solution means implementing little or no additional infrastructure. The provider manages system maintenance, functionality upgrades and updates, from adjustments to regulations, removing the risk from the customer.
Nowadays, business moves quickly, companies buy other companies, merge, expand into new regions or territories, or bring in new employees. Legacy systems may not be flexible enough to follow any rapid changes. That may mean additional licensing or further infrastructure investment. Remember the lobster—if his shell grew with him, he wouldn’t need to shed it and grow a new one every year or so.
“Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” John. F. Kennedy
Flexibility and mobility equates to fewer major adjustments over time. Immediately scalable, cloud-based softwares support and inform business growth. Easily add new employees (no additional new user licenses). Roll out the platform when required, supporting external regulations, VAT, and per diem rates.
They maintain flexibility when it comes to interfacing with other solutions such as accounts payable and payroll. Many companies use ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems to manage many of their business processes. As many ERP systems integrate with other providers, so do many expense management softwares.
7. Reinforce Company Policy to Manage Behavior
As your company grows, each new employee comes with expectations and habits when it comes to booking travel and claiming expenses. Acceptable practices in their previous company may not comply with policies for your company—and with more people on the team, you could easily lose the overview.
The challenge for companies when implementing an expense process, whether manual or automated, is addressing this existing culture within the company. In theory, you can mitigate the issue with written policies to manage travel and expenses. However, employees must comply, and supervisors must enforce the policies. Integration allows companies to enforce their policy automatically across the board. The best systems flag any out of policy spending for further investigation. By integrating policies directly into the expense management system, compliance becomes mandatory.
Besides all of the employer benefits, as expense approval efficiency improves, employees benefit from speedier approval and quicker reimbursement through the improved workflow of automating. Prompt payback makes employees less likely to feel put out by paying out of pocket.
Whether you look for cost savings, time saving or compliance risk reduction, an integrated cloud-based expense management platform can help. A cloud-based solution is scalable, flexible and easy to implement. That means there are no big projects or investments to get going. It also eliminates the risk of having to get a new platform as your business grows and changes.
“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” – Albert Einstein
We dug deep to create the world’s first free, fully-automated budgeting and expense management platform, and it gives you instantaneous control visibility into company-wide spend. Born from loathing a truly broken process, Divvy turned that legitimate dislike into the catalyst to reinvent. Not even innovate: burn to the ground, salt the earth, and build something that works on new ground—from scratch.
Divvy is the first free and fully automated spend management platform.
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