New expense reporting technology is making life easier for traveling professionals.
U.S. firms will spend a projected $296 billion on travel and entertainment in 2017, according to a report by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). One company’s share of that sum can amount to 10 percent or more of its annual revenues, and the costs associated with tracking and reimbursing expenses by employees adds to the total.
Fortunately, things are getting easier. While more than half of the companies with 200 or fewer employees surveyed by The Wall Street Journal still rely on Excel sheets, a new generation of expense reporting technologies is simplifying things for employees and contractors and cutting costs for employers.
As a result, businesses are finding more workers willing to travel and getting more for their money when they do.
Simplifying Expense Reporting
About five years ago, larger organizations all over became comfortable with accepting expense receipts in digitized, photographic form.
Continuing the momentum into the SMB sector, cloud-based platforms like Coupa have since made it much simpler to create completely digital records of employee expenses.
Instead of spending an average of 20 hours each week working through expense reports at a cost of about $20 each, as one Forbes report found, even small businesses can now easily make the leap to more automated, better integrated processes.
While accounting for expenses has become simpler at every scale of business, so has controlling them in the first place. Services like Bento let employers issue debit cards that remain inactive until specifically authorized and funded for particular purchases.
Company-issued single-use virtual accounts limit the dangers associated with conventional corporate credit cards, and 20 percent of GBTA survey respondents expect to have them in play by the end of 2018.
Corporate portals on travel planning sites maintained by companies like Concur Technologies can be tailored to reflect each organization’s policies and limits, ensuring that arguments will not arise later on. With many of these tools designed to create detailed, reliable records and reports by default, employees and employers alike have less to worry about.
As a result, firms are finding that employees are happier to travel and that it is less expensive to handle all the related details.
“It has really encouraged people to travel, because they know they don’t have to wait too long for the funds afterward. It also gives us a full view of the total expenses so we can track top spenders and see who is excessive,” shared Veray Fugere of Washington-based Exotic Metals Forming Co.
5 Expense Tracking Solutions Making a Difference
The number of options in this space has multiplied greatly over the past few years, and momentum is still building.
Certify is a cloud-based travel and expense reporting system that aims at satisfying the needs of organizations ranging from small businesses to multinationals. With a built-in travel booking system that can be customized to ensure organization-specific compliance, Certify integrates seamlessly with a wide range of enterprise resource planning and accounting systems and automatically generates reports of its own.
MasterCard In Control allows businesses and individuals to set up fine-tuned alerts and generate reports for activity involving existing credit cards. Especially for those organizations not ready to upend their prevailing arrangements, the service is an accessible way to automatically gather more information, enforce spending limits, and minimize the risk of fraud.
Pegg is a bot that chats with employees over Facebook or Skype messaging apps, recording receipts and generating reports from data stored in the popular Sage small-business accounting system. As an especially smartphone-friendly way to manage the full range of expense reporting duties, Pegg makes traveling for business that much more convenient.
Tallie and Nexonia Expenses, are two accountant-driven expense reporting packages designed to automate every possible process while minimizing the odds of mistakes. With a late 2016 merger bringing the two businesses together, the combined company plans to maintain both products under the leadership of CEO Chris Farrell “for the time being.”
With many more modern expense tracking tools and systems aiming squarely at the Excel sheets and manual processes that still hold some companies back, business is becoming easier for traveling professionals and their employers alike.