Being digital in T&E means better visibility into, and control of, spending. It means boosting employee productivity and satisfaction through easier, faster creation of expense accounts and faster reimbursement. It also means reduced risk through more assured compliance with corporate travel and spending policies.
Achieving this is a tall order when employees are moving among multiple business units and geographies, each with their own reimbursement budget priorities, and approval workflows. Success requires not only an industry leading T&E platform such as Concur Travel & Expense, but configuring it based on best practices gained from experience in global workforce management.
To learn more about optimizing your T&E process, download the full report.
Today’s global workforce demands modern solutions
According to Forrester Research, travel and entertainment (T&E) is the second most difficult operating expense to control. This is why modern solutions need to be in place to gain control of your spend.
Based on our experience of becoming a global T&E user of Concur for over 200,000 employees, here are our recommendations for the design and configuration of five critical business processes that will help you achieve digital Concur T&E excellence.
1. Improve the relocation experience through better expense management
With the growth in global supply chains and the need to seamlessly deploy skills wherever they are needed, relocation expenses – and the need to manage them effectively – will only grow.
Managing relocation policies effectively requires:
- Creating effective, appropriate policies that can be implemented across geographies and business units.
- Communicating those policies in a clear, consistent way across business units and geographies.
- Deploying and configuring T&E systems that provide an easy, seamless experience for employees so their move is as easy as possible and they can focus on work as quickly as possible.
- Monitoring relocation spending and reimbursement to ensure compliance with organizational and governmental requirements.
At first glance, all this might seem straightforward. However, many hiccups arise if there’s not a clear policy in place that’s communicated to employees and supported by implemented systems and having to use different corporate cards in different countries.
By configuring Concur to work alongside a global relocation policy covering all expense types for all employee groups and managing the cutover of corporate card transactions and employee group changes in the most timely manner, you can help set yourself up for success.
2. Fine-tune your approval workflows
Approval workflows are essential to ensuring that the proper stakeholders have the appropriate degree of control over various levels of T&E spending. At first glance, the standard approval workflows in Concur Travel & Expense would seem more than adequate. These are simple “1-up” processes that route expenses to a default approver, based on the corporate organizational chart, with options to limit the amounts they can approve based on the amount of the claim or other factors, and the option to require multiple levels of approval for various types of claims.
However, every business is different, and their internal approval requirements (or industry-specific regulations) may require unique approval workflows. Some such requirements, and their implications for how Concur Travel & Expense should be configured, include:
How can a cost object-based approval model (in which a project manager or other authorized individual approves or declines a payment) be defined and implemented to support mobile devices when the standard cost object-based approval model within Concur is not mobile compatible?
One approach is to use the Authorized Approval model within Concur, in which project managers are mapped to projects and/or cost centers as authorized approvers. This provides essentially the same function as the Cost Object Approver model, but supports mobile-based approvals.
Along with this, there are other approval workflow approaches to consider when implement spend management solutions, such as the Concur Event Notification Service. It’s important to determine your unique needs when implementing Concur to determine how the management system can be catered best for your approval workflows.
3. Define the right number of policies, forms and fields
Different organizations, or geographic or business units within the same organization, may have vastly different business models, cost structures, profitability levels and corporate cultures. For this reason, Concur provides substantial flexibility in defining policies.
Defining groups properly is an important first step that lets you apply different policies to different groups, or to groups that will be managed by different authorities. A common, and recommended, best practice is to configure groups by country and/or major line of business. As you define your groups, try to follow a global template with the minimal customization for market specific requirements.
Concur allows organizations to set multiple policies per group with one default policy for each group. The major areas determined by the policies are workflows, receipt handling, expense types and the entry forms used by employees. The expense types and related controls applicable for each group can be enforced through the use of multiple policies for each group, or by using sub policies under a default policy and enforcing the expense type usage and regulations using audit rules. Enforcing expense types via additional policies or through usage of sub policies has its own benefits and disadvantages based on the forms and controls applicable for the organization.
4. Matching travel reservations to expenses
There are several navigation options for a user creating an expense report in Concur. One is to navigate through the “expense” link to the trip itinerary that was booked in Concur travel, which will match that expense report to the travel reserved in Concur or through the authorized travel management company (TMC.) This option makes it possible to check if an expense report matches an existing travel reservation and thus drive travel policy compliance metrics.
However, often users will book air tickets well in advance of their travel, or before booking hotel and car rental, to get better rates. In this case the user submits the airfare well in advance of other expenses to avoid late payment fees. In such cases, Concur matches the travel reservation with the expense report submitted for the airfare and will not allow additional expense reports to be created and submitted for the same travel. Thus, any expense report created after the initial report will not be mapped to the matching travel reservation. Being aware of this limitation helps an organization take steps to reduce the risk of non-matching reservation expenses.
One strategy is to encourage and train users to map all airfare, hotel and car rental expenses in one expense report whenever possible. When that cannot be done, one solution is to build a Cognos advanced report that shows all non-travel matching expenses based on the itinerary and time frame of the travel. These expenses can then be validated separately by the audit team to identify any risks or non-compliant charges.
5. Receipt Management
Enforcing receipts has a big impact on your employees’ ease of use, and hence their satisfaction and productivity. How this information is handled also affects your overall cost of ownership and the amount of work approvers must do.
Concur provides multiple options for users to add receipts, based on limits on the number and type of receipts required to comply with legal and corporate requirements. These receipt rules can be configured by group, or the same receipt rule can be applied to multiple groups.
Enforcing the number and type of receipts that can be uploaded makes it easier for prepay auditors to validate the process, as well as VAT reclaim and tax compliance.
Within Concur, receipts can be added:
- At the header level only
- At the line level only, or
- At both the header and line levels.
There are benefits to uploading receipts at the header level and line level, depending on business needs, but we don’t recommend adding at both levels as it makes it more complex to manage compliance with, and the auditing of, rules governing the management of receipts.
Read our Digital Transformation White Paper for more insight into making your Concur digital journey successful.