3 Ways T&E Can Contribute to Utility and Energy Company Sustainability

SAP Concur Team |

As we celebrate Earth Day, it’s an apt time to consider how small sustainability changes can lead to big results. For utilities and energy companies, all eyes are on grid investments and clean energy as the White House aims to build a national grid of 100% clean energy by 2035, and consumers pressure their utilities to enact more sustainable practices.

While clean energy is a critical goal, there are other ways that utilities can embed greener practices throughout their organizations, such as financial and administrative processes that can be reviewed and reimagined in more sustainable ways. One such area of opportunity is travel and expense (T&E) management, as it affects nearly every employee across an organization. Turning to cloud-based software to manage T&E — or further optimizing the SaaS your organization already uses — can help you create more sustainable processes and influence employees to recognize the environmental impact of their travel and purchases. These changes can save money too, so you can demonstrate to customers that your organization practices strong economic and environmental stewardship.

Digitized T&E Processes Help Move the Needle

Here are three ways that digitized T&E processes can help move the needle on sustainability across utilities and energy companies:

1. Reduce paper waste

If there’s any spending-based paper passing through your organization — printouts of PDF receipts or forms for expense reports — now’s the time to digitize these processes. While it’s easier than ever to source paper from sustainable suppliers that use recycled pulp and have responsible forestry and sourcing certifications, it’s still better to reduce than reuse.

Providing simple digital methods to create expense reports; to automate PDF receipt, credit card transaction, and invoice data ingestion; and to compile travel itineraries can save employees and accounts payable (AP) staff time and headaches. Data errors — and the time it takes to track them down and fix them — will decrease. Last, and certainly not least, you’ll save some trees and minimize your organization’s contributions to methane emissions caused by paper decomposing in landfills.

2. Provide sustainable guidelines and guardrails for employees

Employees want to conduct business travel more sustainably: A recent SAP Concur survey of 1,000 business travelers found that the majority (88%) are willing take actions to reduce their environmental impact when traveling for business. Most of these travelers also said they’d like to see sustainability information when booking business travel, such as comparing sustainability measures for different accommodation and transportation options.

By providing such information at the point of business travel booking, you can guide employees to make smarter, environmentally friendly choices, providing knowledge they may bring to their own personal travel as well. Additionally, you may choose to put rules in place that need approval to override, such as using certain travel partners or transportation methods that align with your organization’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals.

With SAP Concur solutions, you can embed these approvals and guidelines into your organization’s travel planning activities, plus use in-app messaging and reminders to guide employees to the most sustainable choices. You can also set up alternative options when emergency or outage-related travel arises and it’s not feasible to use company vehicles when traveling to a site. In both scheduled and unexpected travel cases, you can help employees track their emissions and expense those costs as needed.

3. Measure success and find areas for improvement

When you digitize T&E, you get more than efficiency. Robust tracking and analytics can help you turn employee spending decisions into visibility and tangible measurement of sustainability actions. By bringing data together, you can track progress, share results, and include these details in communications to employees, leaders, customers, regulators, and the greater community.

For example, with SAP Concur solutions, you can deliver monthly, quarterly, and annual reviews on travel carbon emissions, analyzed by employee, department, route, or any other category you prefer. You can also examine trends, like rental car use or common airline or hotel choices, to learn if you should promote greener options.

Partnering for a More Sustainable Tomorrow

One relatively simple way to increase sustainability within your organization is to choose technology partners that prioritize environmental initiatives. SAP is on its way to reaching carbon-neutrality this year, and SAP Concur is committed to bringing sustainable features to our solutions and App Center, including partner applications from Choose Climate, Thrust Carbon, and Jet-Set Offset.

To learn more about how SAP Concur can help your organization optimize its spending for greater stewardship and resilience, read our sustainability tip sheet for utilities

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