This is the first in a two part series about my first business trip with Concur, or how I came to love doing expense reports. But read below about my former road warrior status and how that affected my success at work and my overall happiness.
Early in 2015, I took my first business trip as a Concur employee to the Concur office in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Although I was excited to connect with team members I rarely get to see in-person, my joy was tempered by my concerns about what the expense report would look like at the end of the trip. As a former—and exhausted—road warrior, this was my first business trip in three or four years and my previous business travel experiences with my former employer were rather tiresome.
Let me give you a bit of context regarding the term “road warrior” in my case, and things that I used to worry about when I had to travel for business:
- Keeping track of all my travel expense receipts.
- Staying within company budgets and financial and travel policies. (I still worry about this, but it’s not a bad thing.)
- Having to spend six to eight hours scanning and printing all my expense receipts, as well as managing an Excel spreadsheet when I got home.
- Not receiving flight updates, missing my flight or losing my airline ticket or seat.
My story and why I used to hate doing expense reports
I used to be a national account executive for a wholesale fashion/shoe company. Although I often started my workweeks with Monday in the office, it was rare for me to spend more time in the Pacific Northwest than that. My travel schedule consisted of me traveling five or six days out of seven.
What used to be my typical workweek travel schedule:
SEA → LAS → DFW → LAS → SEA
Tuesday through Thursday, I was in Las Vegas with account representatives, clients and vendors like department stores. After days of meetings, meals out and sleeping in a hotel, I would pack up and head to Dallas to do it all over again on Thursday and Friday. Then instead of going home, I usually needed to head back to Las Vegas for the weekend before returning back to Seattle on Sunday evening. Also, it was not unheard of for me to fly into New York City on a red-eye and fly back out later that same day after being holed up in hotel rooms for client meetings.
In addition to literally “living out of my suitcase”, my former company’s expense management system did not have purchasing or procurement cards, also known as a “P-card” system for travel expenses. This meant that I was responsible for all travel expenses and business charges on my personal card up front and was expected to submit my travel expenses to the accounting department for reimbursement later. Suffice it to say, I hated doing my expenses because by the end of each week, I had accrued so many that my reports required four to five hours per week to complete. Imagine what my travel expenses were by the end of the month!
The insane travel and meetings schedule I had for the several years with my previous this job resulted in several things:
- I lost countless paper receipts. The loss in cash for those travel expenses will never be recovered.
- I was exhausted, miserable and unhappy. This made me less productive and motivated in my job.
- I did not want another travel expense receipt to track, so I would substitute some meals for protein bars I packed in my suitcase.
- Airplane was spent creating and editing Excel spreadsheets for tracking travel expenses.
- For every weekly expense report, I had to spend two extra hours before work to scan all of my receipts and organize them to match the Excel spreadsheet. This totaled six to seven hours per week for an expense report, which was time-consuming and painful.
- I didn’t have a personal life because my expense reports took too long to complete outside of work.
I know I’m not alone in having felt this way at my old job. No matter how hard I would try, some receipt would be lost and or I would make a mistake in my personal spreadsheet, which led to errors for the company accounting department.
Now I understand that that is the wrong way to do it, especially since waiting to submit this massive list of expenses at the end of the quarter probably confused my company’s finances. I better understand the big picture and how important it is for a business to be proactive about their cash flow and spend management. There is a better way.
Read part two of my story and learn how I “automagically" create my expense report.
There is a better way. Learn to love business travel again with Concur Travel and Expense.