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Frustrated With Manual Receipts for Travel and Expense Management?

If you constantly find yourself frustrated with manual receipts for travel and expense management, it's high time you switch to an automated platform.

Are you or your employees tired of drowning in a sea of paper receipts every time you handle travel and expense management for your business? You're not alone. Many companies know that the intricacies of managing corporate travel expenses often pose significant challenges. Manual travel reconciliation, in particular, impedes efficiency, accuracy and overall business growth. 

This blog delves into the challenges and risks associated with manual travel reconciliation and explores the one solution that can make travel and expense management more effective — digitisation.

What Is Travel and Expense Management?

Travel and expense management comes in when employees travel for business-related reasons. It’s the process of capturing and tracking business travel expenses, giving the company visibility over their travel costs and minimising additional expenses as much as possible.

Travel and expense management consists of the following steps:

  1. Creation of a travel request
  2. Supervisors’ approval of the request
  3. Travel booking
  4. Receipt collection and travel expense reporting
  5. Report review
  6. Reimbursement to the employee
  7. Any additional requirements as per individual company policy

What Is Considered a Business Travel Expense?

Is travel a business expense? Most definitely—as long as the cost the employee incurs is something to accomplish work-related objectives while on a business trip. That includes transportation, meals and accommodation.

Take note that not all expenses during the trip can be considered business travel expenses. Expenses that were made for personal leisure (e.g., souvenirs, gifts, etc.) and companion expenses do not qualify.

What Are the Challenges of Manual Travel Reconciliation?

The cumbersome process of sorting through piles of paper receipts, reconciling transactions and tracking expenses can be a significant drain on time and resources. Here are some challenges of manual travel reconciliation that you might relate to:

1. Manual data entry

Think about not just the hassle but also the possible human errors caused by manually submitting receipts and typing numbers in a spreadsheet. Manual data entry is labour-intensive and can create a bottleneck in your travel and expense management.

2. Slow pre-approval process

Before the trip, the company arranges bookings and expense submissions. When done manually, this can significantly slow down the pre-approval process. For example, physical documents for travel requests require physical handling and routing. Each step in the process, from filling out the form to obtaining signatures, can be slow compared to getting it done through a digital process.

3. Slow expense approval

We can’t blame the approvers for being too busy with tasks and reports, but there’s no denying that their busy schedules can cause slow expense approval when done manually. After all, they need to make sure that the claims are valid and accurate which can take a lot of time.

4. Lack of visibility

Manual processes do not have visibility into the status of travel requests. Without the ease of tracking approvals, employees and managers do not know where requests stand in the approval pipeline.

5. Inconsistent documentation

Paper-based travel documents and invoices come in various formats, making it difficult to standardise the documentation process. This can lead to difficulties in extracting relevant information during the reconciliation process.

6. Multiple currencies

Employees who travel for work are likely to have trips abroad, which means they’ll be dealing with different currencies. Managing multiple currencies adds another layer of complexity because it involves converting expenses in different currencies into a common currency for accurate reporting. Not only is this time-consuming, but it’s also error-prone, especially with fluctuating exchange rates.

Features of a Business Travel and Expense Management Software

Business travel and expense management software simplifies the complex task of managing corporate travel expenses while enhancing transparency, compliance and cost-effectiveness. Here are some features of the software that can make the process easier for you:

1. Enriched data and auto-coding 

The software has a data feed that captures all travel booking information such as booking number, reason for travel and trip itinerary. Travel transactions are also auto-coded.

2. Corporate credit cards

With corporate credit cards, the trip receipts that were made from an employee’s card are automatically matched to the employee and then to the expense line with the full trip information auto-filled to the correct expense fields. 

3. Consolidated cards or on-account

In “on account” arrangements, the daily trip data is used to create a travel e-claim for the traveller to submit for approval. You can choose between individual e-claims or a consolidated e-claim for an account.

4. Uber receipts

Whenever an employee takes an Uber, the software adds the trip data to a travel claim in real time. No need for manual data entry!

Conclusion: Why You Need an Automated Travel and Expense Management Platform

Imagine a company where employees no longer have to manually type in data or track down physical receipts since the expense report software does all that work for them. Think of how productive and empowered your employees can become.

By using an automated travel and expense management platform, your business won’t only identify cost-saving opportunities and enforce policy compliance. It will also promote transparency across the whole organisation and empower the employees.

Making the switch is not just about convenience; it’s also a strategic investment that can yield significant returns by improving efficiency, reducing costs and empowering data-driven decision-making.

When your company transitions from manual to automated processes, you not only alleviate frustration but also set the stage for long-term success.

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