With an average of 10% of a typical company’s budget going to T&E expenses, it is no surprise that a new research report, “Travel and Entertainment Expense Visibility — To Be OR Not To Be”, by Louis Berard, Senior Analyst for the Aberdeen Group’s Global Supply Management research practice, found that 51% of the organizations they surveyed very much want to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their expense reporting process.
Not only are there cost savings involved in making the reporting process more efficient (notably by replacing paper processing and mailing expenses with online expense report software), but both employee efficiency and corporate control improve in three key areas, according to the report:
End-to-end visibility into the entire expense incurring and reporting process: The “creation, submission, workflow, approval and reimbursement of T&E expenses.”
Leveraging mobile applications to make managing expense reports easier and faster.
Improved employee compliance with corporate expense policies.
Aberdeen found that having an end-to-end travel expense management process triples the probability that an organization can assign measureable ROI to T&E expenses (from 7% of organizations to 22% of the companies in the survey).
The “end-to-end” process is important because the entire process of “initiating, incurring, submitting, approving and reimbursing the expense is captured in one reporting system,” as Mr. Berard notes. This makes tracking and analysis of expense data far more accessible, and easier to extract and examine.
Plus, once all employees are using the same system, the data set you work with is complete enough to be worth analyzing!
Some of the benefits that our clients see from this improved visibility into employee expenses are:
Better access to corporate guidelines for travel and entertainment expenses through a web portal insures greater compliance from traveling employees: If they are prompted and reminded, most will follow the guidelines willingly.
Striking a better balance between expense control and employee need (Example: What limits on a nightly hotel charge are realistic for each city a salesperson visits? When exceptions to current limits become the rule, it is time to examine the current limits and adjust them.)
Tracking particular employee behavior when incurring expenses: What is driving an employee to require exceptions to policy more frequently that other employees? Is it a training issue, or a project issue?
Better data leads to better forecasting of, and planning for, future expenses, especially if expenses can be better connected to revenue generation.
These are just a few examples of how greater visibility into the T&E expenses that are actually incurred allows greater control over those expenses.
What benefits do you see as the most critical when adopting an online expense reporting solution?
When you travel for business, staying on top of paperwork (like keeping your expense report up-to-date) is a chore often ignored. Playing with apps on your iPhone, however, is quite popular.
Can we make expense reporting more fun? Perhaps a little.
Mobile apps are available for the iPhone that make managing your expense report a lot easier as you go, which can eliminate the headache of getting it done after the trip. So, click out of that game you are playing in the flight waiting area for a few moments.
Get out that wad of receipts.
Click open your mobile expense app.
Photograph each receipt.
Strike up a conversation with the business traveler next to you because they are interested in what you are doing.
Decide whether you could turn him or her into a prospect.
Attach the receipt to the right expense report.
Save each receipt. The app will take care of sending the image to your online expense report software account.
Close the mobile expense app and continue your conversation. Or go back to your game.
The SutiExpense expense report management app is available as a free download from the app store because we want to make the life of our road warriors a bit more pleasant. Just open up your Apple App Store from your iPhone or iPad and search for "SutiExpense."
Have you used your mobile expense report app today? Let us know how much better that makes your life.
One of our traveling SutiSofters found this post on LinkedIn that he found apropos to what we strive to do with our online software for expense reports:
Make life more rewarding for business travelers!
The post comes courtesy of Caryn Seidman Becker, the CEO of CLEAR, which is also trying to make travel a bit easier by speeding people through airport security faster using biometrics.
“The benefits of traveling for business are proven,” Caryn writes. “More revenue, more profits, better relationships with clients and partners. But there are often-overlooked benefits to business travel—the effect it has on your employees.” (our emphasis)
She goes on to describe Team Bonding and Confidence as the two key benefits. We like to think we can help with the second point:
“When a business trip goes well, it feels great. Those successes build confidence and can often reignite a spark in employees who needed a bit of inspiration.”
We believe we help make the trip smoother for road warriors by taking the hassle out of expense reporting. (At least, that’s what our clients’ travelers tell us.)
What makes a business traveler happier than finishing and submitting his expense report for approval before he or she gets on the plane home? OK, landing a new client probably trumps that, but hassle-free expense reporting counts for a lot with people who hate paperwork!
(BTW: Our SutiSign service can also take the hassle out of getting the new clients’ contracts signed.)
And with the expense reports out of the way, your hard-chargers can get back to doing what they do best the very first minute of the next business day.
Have you yet benefited from the efficiency of online expense report software services? What tales from the road can you share?
We all do it. When traveling for work, we collect receipts everywhere, but we don't treat them with a great deal of respect, cramming them into pockets or briefcases to "get to them later." Our attention is on the business opportunity we are pursuing, and we forget the critical role those receipts will play in getting our expense report approved and reimbursed.
Crumpled Receipts are a hazard of business travel, and make organizing yourself a bit harder after the trip, but you can eliminate that hassle with a neat bit of techology, and perhaps a bit of showmanship!
The "cool factor" of digital receipt capture.
Someday, online expense reports will be the "norm" rather than a novelty, but for now you can eliminate the problem of crumpled receipts by taking a quick picture of each piece of paper right when you receive it. Clients are still fascinated by the technology, so you can even start a conversation about it with them (just as many of us at SutiExpense have done while traveling.)
You don't want to appear more interested in the receipt than in the client, but you can exude an image of efficiency by forthrightly describing how much time you are saving using mobile expense report functionality. Plus it only takes a few seconds to impress:
Open the SutiExpense mobile app
Click open the Receipts tab
Take a photo of the receipt
Confirm that you can read the image (very important!)
Or, you can take a quick photo of the receipt, and open the SutiExpense app later to find the image in your image folder and upload it.
Either way, the crumpled state of the original receipt is no longer any sort of issue.
The life of the Road Warrior just got a little bit easier!
What about you? Do you have an efficient system to capture receipt images and append them to your expense report on the go? How are you staying on top of receipts?
For users of SutiExpense Expense Report Management Software, the home screen for each user's account was designed to be very simple, highly informative and easy to navigate.
All your expense report status questions answered right here
As you can see in the graphic above, you have your own account dashboard that gives you a quick snapshot of what is in process, and where each item is in the process.
Starting right at the top, the title bar (which can be customized by your adminstrator to best suit your company's needs) provides shortcuts to the most commonly visited areas of the SutiExpense. Most users, however seem to check first with the tiles in the "Snapshot" area below the title bar to see what needs attention.
The "Draft Items" shows any expense reports that you have started but have not yet completed, or haven't submitted for approval.
Moving to the right, you see the "Completed Items" area, that shows all the reports you have submitted (or approved if you happen to be an approver.)
The "In Process" area shows you any submitted expense reports that you have submitted but are not yet approved. At a glance, you can see exactly where your reports are in the process. You can also select to be notified via email whenever the status of a submitted report changes.
If your company is set up to automatically link credit card expenses, you can import any of your charged expenses from the "Download" area. These can be imported into a new expense report or can be selected by item and added to specific reports.
Lastly, any messages that your travel expense admin wants to send out will be displayed in the "Message from Admin" area.
Without going any further into the SutiExpense functionality, you can already see why so many organizations are switching away from manual expense reporting. How many e-mails and phone calls have been eliminated because you can get your status questions answered simply by logging into your account?
We will go into greater detail on to how to use each area in future blogs but this quick introduction should get you familiar enough to begin using SutiExpense quickly and easily. Fing out more by clicking through to our product tour.
What do you like best about electronic expense reporting? Let us know! Customer input is one of the driving forces behind our ongoing product improvement work.
Employees hate filling in expense reports. It is a mind-numbing task that takes time away from customers and other business-critical tasks, all to transfer data from a paper receipt into an expense report spreadsheet.
Stop the Madness: Automate Receipt Capture with expense report software.
Optical Character Recognition, better known as "OCR," takes the manual process out of entering data. It is probably one of the most time-saving (and error saving!) benefits of online expense report solutions. Here's how it works:
Scan your paper receipts, or take an image of it with your mobile phone.
E-mail the image to firstname.lastname@example.org. (In SutiExpense, each user is recognized by their e-mail address, so the image is automatically attached to your account.)
OCR technology reads and recognizes the data from its location on the receipt, and populates that data into the correct areas in the expense report.
A quick check for accuracy and to add any comments is all that is left for you to do before the next receipt is entered.
OCR technology: Removing the pain and wasted time of receipt capture and reporting.
For more information about how automated receipt capture works, give us a call at (888) 272-4385 ext. 411, or select one of the two options below:
If you are reading this blog, you may be in the midst of choosing a SaaS-based expense report management solution, which you know can bring you the benefits of an easier IT deployment and having on-demand access worldwide, especially on-the-go via your smartphone. You understand why more and more companies choose flexible and adaptable online solutions over an internal server-based expense report software.
But what you may not be aware of are the ways that choosing a SaaS-based solution will actually lower your TCO (total cost of ownership) by significantly improving how your processes and procedures work.
When More Means Less
With many advanced software packages that you can host on your own servers, they can be loaded with features, but those features often come a-la-carte: The TCO rises as more and more features are included.
For us at SutiExpense, that doesn't make good economic sense. We think access to a full package of benefts from 'Day One' lets an organization plan better, and grow their solution at the same pace as their organization grows.
Lower Up-Front Costs
From the very start, you save money with a SaaS solution: It does not require a large, up-front capital expenditure. We use a per-user subscription model, for instance; allowing you to only pay for the employees that you need to have use the expense report system. You might have 1,000 employees, but only have 100 who incur travel expenses. Simple! Look for a service that:
We think you should pay for the exact number of users you need right now and if things change, your subscription rate can change with you. That better manages your TCO, too!
Fewer errors save time, which is money!
When all employees are up on the system and using it, you eliminate the errors and delays that came with the manual system of report creation, submission and approval. These time savings usually cover the whole cost of your online software. You could say the time and cost savings drive the TCO of our expense report software almost to zero when compared to paper-base systems and in-house systems.
Let's see . . easier IT deployment, on-demand and mobile access and lower TCO. Add a truly client-friendly integration process, and SaaS-based software for expense reports looks like a slam dunk, doesn't it?
What do you think about which approach is the best?
Smartphones and tablets are everywhere in today's business environment. While mobile technology has made our workforce significantly more agile and responsive, it has also created a challenge for IT departments:
How to grant employees access to shared resources like expense report software on their mobile device while maintaining network and data security.
A preferred way to effectively handle the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend is moving resources to the cloud, because the data can be quickly accessed but does not reside on the device.
Expense report data must remain secure, too.
Finance departments of most businesses have highly confidential information that IT staff are charged with protecting. A breach of this data could a business out of compliance, so IT managers craft multiple levels of security to protect against cyber-theft.
Businesses with employees who are managing travel related expenses on the road add another layer of complexity: They access their expense accounts through their mobile devices while traveling.
The most secure solution is to demand that traveling employees only access their company's travel expense software from a company-provided PC at their desks. But that throws away one of the most compelling advantages of online reporting software: They speed up the submission and approval process by providing 24/7 real-time access to expense reports.
Use a software solution that remains secure regardless of the device used!
Expense report management solutions allow traveling employees access through a secure server to create, validate, submit and approve their travel expense reports. The benefits to employing a SaaS expense management solution are numerous for both traveling employees and a business:
Instant receipt image capture and upload to a secure server
Enhanced and dynamic approval flows for managers on-the-go
Easily configured, altered and updated 24/7
Anywhere, anytime access, even in airport lounges waiting for flights.
Increased accuracy, and visibility into travel expense budgets for managers
We offer a free consultation and a free trial of our solution. Click the button below to get more information about SutiExpense. You may also contact us here.
In a previous blog, we discussed the benefit of easier IT deployment that many clients who have chosen a SaaS based Expense Management solution realize. But fortunately, that is not the only benefit you can expect from a cloud based travel expense solution like SutiExpense.
Before we get into the next benefit, consider what non-SaaS based solutions are challenged with when using a server or PC-resident expense management solution:
If the software is installed on a shared server, users must have access to the server in order to access the resource. That means that users either need to be in an office with a direct server connection or will need to connect (hopefully securely) via a VPN.
The company would need to purchase a specific number of licenses for each resource user, making certain that each user also has server-rites and licenses installed on their connecting device.
If users intend or wish to access the server with a mobile device, IT must either create and push out a profile that end-users would need to install on their mobile device, or IT would need to open up specific ports on their network and create as secure of a authentication process as their IT budget allows.
When updates or patches are required, the solution is down and no users will be able to access the resource.
If a company chooses to purchase a solution that is loaded on individual user's PC's, the end user would need to have access to their PC before using the resource.
The Benefit of SaaS
Now that you have a better idea of the challenges faced with non-SaaS solutions, it's time to discuss the difference that SutiExpense clients enjoy.
"On Demand and Mobile Access"
With a SaaS based travel expense solution, your employees do not need to be connected to anything except the Internet to gain access. That's because the solution is not resident on your server or on your PC's but hosted securely in the cloud.
It doesn't matter what type of computer you or your employees are using (yes, Macs are welcome with SutiExpense!) or even if they are using a smartphone or tablet; access is granted by an authentication process that you can help design.
Imagine being 1,000 miles from the office, sitting by the hotel's pool after a long day's work and being able to submit your expenses from your smartphone. Not only will your employees be able to better focus their time in the field on their customers, but their morale will improve as they no longer need to collect, scan and submit paper-based receipts but can complete their expense reports will waiting in an airport, over dinner or even by poolside.
Any More Benefits?
I know what you're thinking; "Getting all these benefits must equate to a very high investment cost!" And to that we say "You couldn't be more wrong." But for details on that benefit you'll just have to either contact us for more information or read the next blog in this series.
You know time is money. The more time you and your employers spend on managing manual processes like completing expense reports, the more money is being drawn from your bottom line.
Businesses the world over are discovering that automating their expense report processes not only affords them multiple cost savings benefits, but also measurable increases in worker productivity.
Automating Expense Report Processing Improves Productivity
We cannot control external factors that sap our productivity, like missed travel connections or a resource gap that delays a project. But we can help employees be more productive by giving them better tools to handle administrative tasks like completing expense reports. Here are just a handful of ways in which we can gain employees more productive time:
The simple step of moving to an online expense reporting system pays for itself quite quickly when you consider the time savings and productivity gains each employee accrues.
What seems like a tactical business improvement can have a tremendous impact on your business's overall health. When you realize just how simple it is to implement and enjoy all the benefits of a solution like SutiExpense, you'll start thinking about what other processes can be fixed so easily using SaaS-based software.
(Hint: An e-signature solution might be one worth looking at!)
Questions? Hit the button below to let us know what they are.