Employee Experience

Four Tips for the Higher Education Back Office as They Head Back to School

Nicole Ike |

Recently, SAP Concur hosted a webinar “Back to School for the Back Office” with Michigan State University, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and University of California San Diego. Read on for our four takeaways or watch the webinar here. 

Travel within higher education has always been a large part of academic, athletic, and research activities. Professors, researchers, sports teams, and administrators often travel for a wide variety of purposes, ranging from attending meetings to conducting field research. However, travel for these institutions has evolved significantly, influenced by both technological innovations, and global events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, we explore the various parts of travel at higher education institutions diving deep into schools like universities and community colleges to simplify processes, ensure duty of care, and use technology to improve the travel experience. Here are the four tips for back office workers as they head back to campus:

1. Simplify travel reporting and audit processes  

One of the key challenges faced by higher education institutions in managing travel is the often complex and time-consuming expense reporting and audit process. Institutions have recognized the need to simplify these processes to administrative burdens and assure accuracy and compliance to reduce administrative burdens. The adoption of automated expense reporting tools and connected systems has become essential. Solutions like SAP Concur have gained popularity as they allow travelers to capture expenses, snap photos of receipts, and integrate with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems for efficient processing. Read this case study to see how George Washington University uses SAP Concur solutions for better efficiency and visibility.

2. Support uptick in travel for advanced research

As institutions transition from pandemic restrictions, a backlog of research requirements has emerged. Researchers and academics are eager to resume their studies, leading to more frequent visits to faraway places for research projects. However, this return to travel sometimes comes with a sense of anxiety and concerns about health and safety. More than 9 in 10 business travelers (91%) are willing to decline an assigned trip that conflicts with these needs, values, and preferences.1 Duty of care has become an even more important consideration. Higher education schools must give comprehensive information, including State Department warnings, health advisories, and safety guidelines, to ensure the well-being of their travelers. Because of all these considerations duty of care is often too big to take alone, visit our App Center to check out our full ecosystem of duty of care partners.

12023 Global Business Travelers Report

3. How to reduce traveler frustration while improving compliance

The travel process can be daunting, especially for infrequent travelers within higher education schools. To address this challenge, institutions are investing in tools like Concur User Assistant by WalkMe, which guides users through their travel process step by step. This individualized guidance not only reduces confusion but also improves compliance with established travel policies. By customizing these tools to the institution's specific needs, universities can ensure a smoother experience for all travelers. Having a tool to walk travelers through the process step-by-step means less time and resources need to be dedicated to training and retraining users.

4. Make travel information easily accessible

Technology plays an important role in improving the travel experience for travelers of every experience level. TripIt, for instance, offers a centralized platform to organize travel itineraries, making it easier for travelers to access essential information. Also, online booking tools and preferred travel management companies (TMCs) simplify the booking process, whether through user-friendly interfaces or phone assistance.

Elevate Your Institution’s Travel with SAP Concur

Making better travel decisions within your higher education institutions takes multiple influences from technology, safety considerations, and financial constraints. By embracing automated tools, individualized guidance systems, and comprehensive duty of care measures, you can ensure a smoother travel experience for your employees. The return to travel presents an opportunity for college and university leaders to reimagine their travel management processes, improve user experiences, and support the diverse needs of their workforce. As technology evolves, your higher education institutions can navigate travel challenges with greater efficiency and effectiveness.

To learn more about SAP Concur solutions visit our higher education homepage and watch Back to School for the Back Office


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