Streamlined Corporate Processes: Emburse’s 2021 T&E Management Trends Report
There is no doubt that the events of 2020 turned the business world upside-down. How we work, where we work, and utilization of technology have all seen changes in the past year. Travel and Expense Management is no exception to that rule.
In a recent study of CFOs and key decision makers, over 80% of organizations state that they were negatively impacted by the pandemic and over 70% stated that cash flow is the primary reason for that negative impact. It was an undeniably hard year for organizations of all sizes. However, smart organizations are now turning the challenges of 2020 into opportunities to better streamline their processes and to implement automation and technology tools to give them an advantage moving forward.
One of FROSCH’s premier expense management tool partners – Emburse (Chrome River) – recently released their “2021 Travel and Expense Management Trends Report.” Within the report, Emburse surveyed over 500 finance professionals outside of their customer base to gain their perspectives on the changing Travel and Expense (“T&E”) landscape. The report serves as a benchmark to help companies identify areas of their T&E management that need further attention and reveals how companies can best leverage expense technologies to improve the processes in place today.
“The pandemic pushed organizations to look at their spending with a magnifying glass.”
Cash flow uncertainty, fast-changing business conditions, and the need for business continuity all factored into this push. This deep dive into spending made organizations realize the immediate need for digitizing and simplifying the expense and spend management processes. Moving to an automated system can set organizations on a path to success in navigating the “new normal” of today.
As organizations plan their return to growth post-pandemic, it is critical that they choose technologies and tools that are easy to use, powerful, and (most importantly) adaptable. Many organizations today (over 36% surveyed in this report) still manage all travel and expense reports utilizing a manual process. A “manual process” is defined as any process utilizing pen and paper, excel spreadsheets, homegrown systems, or any combination. However, the sudden shift of the remote working environments of 2020 has exposed the shortcomings of these manual processes and systems.
The ability for employees to be agile and efficient has come to the forefront over the years, but more than ever in 2020. Every organization is taking extensive measures to manage cash flow better and trying to do so in a manner that allows for adaptability with an unknown future. Formal cloud-based Expense Management Systems are one way to accomplish that.
With employees scattered across the globe – whether at home working or traveling – automated systems in place allow employees the ability to submit expenses while remote, with a simple touch of a button. The days of stapling receipts, inputting them into spreadsheets, putting them on the desk of your supervisor for approval, etc. are eliminated.
Company-wide agility is essential to business in today’s climate. That is why choosing systems that prioritize scalability and usability are critical. Manual processes cause numerous hiccups to an organization: manual employee work, chasing receipts, physical routing of reports through approval process channels, time consumption, difficulty forecasting budget, slow reimbursement to employees, and more. Manual processes can take, at times, as long as a month to process – which is an eternity in today’s fast-paced business world.
Money & Resources
With all eyes on expenses and spending post-pandemic, there is no better time to have formal cash monitoring systems in place. Automating travel and expense management is one way that many organizations can reduce their operational overhead for all involved.
The common misconception of cloud-based expense systems is that they are too expensive to implement. This is not the case. Many expense providers offer pricing models that are affordable for, even, smaller organizations. Evidence of this can be seen in the Emburse report, with 53% of organizations with 101-500 employees using a cloud-based expense solution.
Though there is the up-front cost of implementing an expense cloud-based system, the benefits of implementing the system show themselves in spades (and relatively quickly, at that)! In the Emburse survey, 46% of companies state that they achieved positive ROI in less than one year after moving from a manual process to a cloud-based expense system. Lower expense report processing costs were the biggest contributing factor to this statistic. It increased employee productivity and increased T&E policy compliance.
“In the Emburse survey, 46% of companies state that they achieved positive ROI in less than one year after moving from a manual process to a cloud-based expense system.”
Lower expense report processing costs were the biggest contributing factor to this statistic. It increased employee productivity and increased T&E policy compliance.
36% of survey respondents see Travel spending increasing in 2021, second only to Salaries, Benefits, and Wages. Travel Managers are no stranger to travel policies and the importance of having some level of guidelines in place – whether they are basic parameters or mandates. With purse strings being tightened at all companies, it is more important than ever to have a travel policy in place. Over 75% of the organizations surveyed by Emburse have a formal T&E policy in place – detailing allowances for air, car, hotel; meals; preferred vendors; non-employee / contractor travel guidelines; and outlining the process for booking travel and submitting expense reports.
Nearly half of those with a travel policy, however, believe that the traveler understanding of the policies does need improvement. Most organizations surveyed leave policy compliance up to the employee or conduct a manual review of all purchases for policy compliance – leaving the onus on the employee to “do the right thing.” Not having an automatic policy compliancy patrolling allows for missed opportunities to stop unwanted spend. One tool to combat this issue is to automate policy enforcement and control spending by utilizing an integrated travel-booking tool (i.e. an online booking tool and travel management provider – FROSCH) that syncs with the company expense management platform.
Another aspect of policy compliance is the recent uptick in the need for Employee Duty of Care. 41% of organizations surveyed by Emburse expect an increase in duty of care costs, due to the pandemic. Duty of Care is defined as a company having a duty and legal responsibility to protect all employee travelers going out into the world on their behalf. Bundled into this category can be new government regulations, health-related costs and regulations, tax codes, and more. These aspects of spend are all hard to manage alone and having an expense system in place can assist in tracking these for your organization.
Top 7 Reasons that organizations plan to deploy a cloud-based solution
1.Simplifying the expense management process for employees
2.Faster reimbursement of employee expenses
3.Improving employee compliance rates to travel policies
4.Providing an expense management solution accessible from anywhere
5.Improving reporting and analytics around T&E spending
7.Increasing the frequency of expense report submissions
“FROSCH has built and deployed software solutions that automate the reconciliation of trip data, along with invoice receipts into expense platforms. These solutions use data feeds via secure files or API integrations reducing the friction for the traveler when expensing their business trips,”
– Sridhar Balaji, FROSCH Chief Technology Officer
With the increased complexities of businesses today, employees need a simple-to-use system that automates the expense process in near-real-time. The shift to remote working and increased demand for real-time visibility into cash and spending puts more pressure on organizations to digitize processes such as expense management. In a recent study, Financial Director Survey, 2020, 94% of CFO’s and Finance Directors said that digital transformation was critical to the success of their organization. 56% of those surveyed in the Emburse report plan on moving to a cloud-based solution soon – moving away from manual processes.
In summary, the main takeaway of this survey/study – automating expense management meets short-term needs while positioning the organization for long-term success.
To read the full report, click HERE.