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Managing T&E spend still a priority for companies

I’m just back from the AP P2P conference where hundreds of professionals gathered to talk about the latest trends and technologies in the accounts payable and procure-to-pay (P2P) space. What was clear from chatting with many of the delegates is that there are still many companies working on making their finance processes paperless, automated and effective, and/or to ensure they exercise the appropriate level of oversight.

On the travel and entertainment (T&E) expense management side, an employee from one company mentioned that his organization has such strict policies that they debated whether they should cover expenses such as gum and toothpaste. On the other side of the spectrum, I met a finance specialist who asked me whether it was normal for companies to have a no-receipt policy for corporate card spend (my response: Wow! That’s definitely risky!).

According to a study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Concur, about 20% of respondents said that managing T&E expenses and cash flow was the most challenging task for a finance manager. With U.S. firms expecting to spend $296.1 billion on travel and entertainment in 2017, it is no wonder that T&E expenses are a headache for finance professionals.

Companies have many options to ensure that their T&E spend remains under control.  For one, they should benchmark their expenses by category and see how they change from month-to-month and year-to-year. Any notable changes should be investigated and understood.

Another must-have is a well-documented policy that is clearly communicated to all employees, including executives. Automated policy enforcement with clearly defined spending limits and notification of compliance failures is also helpful to control T&E expenses. But as one specialist mentioned, you must be mindful of employees who are always just below the spend threshold.

Technology and analytics also have a role in controlling T&E expenses. Use systems that can reach into your HR, accounting and purchasing card (P-Card) systems and leverage both rules-based and advanced analytics to look for cases such as duplicate expense claims, out-of-policy purchases, purchases of prohibited goods (alcohol, airfare upgrades, tobacco, etc.) and transactions that may violate anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies.

As I heard from several companies at the conference, with a continuous approach to managing T&E expenses organizations can reduce wasteful and fraudulent spend, increase employee productivity and satisfaction and improve working capital management. To learn more about how a continuous approach can help improve your T&E program, download our white paper, ‘Travel and entertainment expenses: Preventing a culture of misuse’ now.

 

About Anu Sood 

Anu Sood (LinkedIn | Twitter) is the Director Marketing at CaseWare RCM and is responsible for the company’s global marketing strategy. She has over 20 years of experience in product development, product management, product marketing, corporate communications, demand generation, content marketing and strategic marketing in high-tech industries.