As employees have more ways to incur travel expenses than ever, now is the time to rethink your company's strategy to thrive in changing times. Automating your financial processes can be an important part of such a strategic plan, and research shows small and medium-size businesses see expense management automation as key in their strategy.
A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Concur indicates that nearly two thirds of the SMB financial leaders surveyed picked “managing expenses/cash flow” as their top financial challenge. The study says: “with limited bandwidth, SMB financial leaders recognize the need to improve their overall T&E processes in order to enable employees to track expenses more efficiently.” Take a look at these other key reasons to automate expense and travel processes:
Errors and time management present challenges
In a bit more detail, Forrester found that SMBs' “key [expense and travel] challenges focus on user-induced errors and long time requirements.” Smaller businesses (from 1-499 employees) called out the time requirements for paperwork and approvals as their top challenge. That was important for larger businesses in the sample (500-999 employees), but those gave a small edge to the high number of inaccuracies caused by human error.
The businesses surveyed considered improved process efficiency to be the most important benefit of automated expense and travel solutions. This priority of is markedly different from Enterprise organizations, which are more likely to emphasize “more accurate reporting…for real time expense tracking.” The study notes that "SMB organizations have far fewer employees to manage or business departments to reconcile” so that difference makes sense. Since many of them are still using paper to track expenses, about two-thirds of the SMBs surveyed are either updating their T&E system now, or plan to do so in the near future.
Solutions need to be user-friendly
The Forrester study notes that new investments in expense and travel systems only pay off if those systems are easy for employees to use. If so, the workers are more likely to buy in. That implies certain capabilities, including a mobile app so users can submit and approve from anywhere, a way to automate T&E and vendor invoicing from a single solution, and faster reimbursement times to head off employee frustration. The SMBs saw all three of these attributes as improving compliance with rules and policies. (To further improve compliance, use our tool to build your own expense policy.)
Solutions need to be business-ready
User friendliness is only half the picture. Forrester found seamless integration with the HR and finance systems that SMBs already have is critical, and the technology SMBs are thinking about here is the cloud. More than three-quarters of the SMB companies surveyed are either using now or plan to use soon cloud apps. That’s because they can roll out important systems faster, like expense, travel, and invoice management. Among the things they’re looking for systems to be able to affect are “accurate reporting through data consolidation and analytics” and “improved visibility into and access to data.” In these areas, paper simply can’t compete with, or compare to, digital and cloud systems.
These improvements in the tools for handling expense and travel add up to ess time spent on expense reporting, lower spending, and fewer complications and errors. And what business, large or small, couldn’t use all that?
To get more details, and Forrester’s key recommendations download the full Forrester study