Set up expense management automation for business travel

If you find business travel expense management (T&E) challenging to manage – you’re not alone!

Slow T&E processes affect everyone in your business – from the finance team to travel managers and the travelers themselves. If you have employees traveling to different cities, your finance team will be trying to track countless flights, hotels, ground transportation and food vendors. Because travel expenses vary from month to month, without the right tools, your organization is exposed to a lot of time-consuming manual work and potential errors from manual processes.

Simply put, when your team has less paperwork to deal with, they can focus on high-impact initiatives.

In this article, we’ll take you through practical steps that will help you save time and automate your expense management processes.

How to speed up expense management for everyone

Everyone in your company deserves a faster expense management process, so they can spend less time on manual operations and more time on meaningful projects.

To set up your company properly, you need both a travel management platform and an expense management platform.

  • Travel Management Platform – To analyze bookings, approvals and travel expenses.
  • Expense management platform – to add, approve and pay expenses (all business expenses, not just travel).

Go deeper into why you need these two systems, how they work together, and how to choose the best options for your accounting team.

1. Choose a best-in-class travel management platform

A travel management platform can greatly reduce manual work in several important ways. First, travel managers are not required to book business trips on behalf of travelers, who can instead book their preferred options within company policies. There is also less back-and-forth in approving trips. Travel platforms offer customizable approval workflows so approvals are transparent and automated.

Travel management platforms also reduce manual effort from the financial side. There is no need for employees to request advance payments and reimbursements. Rather, the platform should provide consolidated monthly invoices. If you’re used to wrangling hundreds of invoices at the end of each month, this can shave dozens of hours off your usual manual process.

Key features of a successful travel management platform

  • Easy self-booking with approval process.
  • Transparent and simple travel policies that can be integrated into the platform.
  • Large inventory of travel options at competitive prices.
  • 24/7 customer care support.
  • No need to pay out of pocket and have to pay back later.
  • Consolidated monthly invoices.
  • Intuitive reporting tools that help you simplify how you manage travel expenses.
  • Integrates with your expense management platform.

TravelPerk has the largest inventory of travel service providers in the market offering a comprehensive solution to book, manage and report your corporate travel. Our platform offers centralized invoicing for easy budget management for your finance team, 24/7 customer support from real people, and real-time expense reporting to give you informed insights into your spending. See our platform in action.

2. Choose a top rate Cost management platform

You’ll also need a best-in-class expense management platform. Why? There are other expenses beyond travel. You may have office managers in charge of purchasing merchandise, event managers who procure DJs and venues, and sales reps who purchase client lunches. It is wise to have a dedicated platform that can streamline expense management for things outside of travel.

Some of the most useful features are aimed at reducing manual data entry. A credit card transaction importer and receipt scanner can eliminate the need for staff to fill out paper forms or enter individual transactions into a software system. (Say goodbye to chasing down hundreds of paper receipts and long headache-worthy spreadsheets for every trip!)

You’ll want to look for a platform that speeds up approvals and necessary reimbursements. This will help you manage your work as a team with appropriate access levels and task delegation.

Most importantly, when it comes to saving time in T&E management, whatever expense management system you use should integrate directly with your travel management platform of choice. This is essential so that you can achieve better expense visibility and avoid expense fraud.

Key features to look for in a Cost management platform

  • Receipt scanning
  • Import credit card transactions
  • Corporate Card Reconciliation
  • Expenditure Approval Workflow
  • Delegate access and tasks to finance colleagues
  • Intuitive with no learning curve
  • Integrates with your travel management platform

TravelPerk offers one-click integration with leading expense management solutions such as Yokoy, Circula, Divvy, and Payhawk so you can enjoy a best-in-class business travel management platform that integrates directly with your expense tools. Discover all our expense management partners in our marketplace.

3. Integrate and roll out your chosen platforms

The next step is to launch your travel management platform and expense solution. Depending on the size of your company, the solutions you choose may offer you to help onboard your employees.

There will be several important things to do.

Launch your travel management platform:

  1. Add all travelers and administrators to the platform.
  2. Create company travel policies per team, cost center, or department.
  3. Set up approval workflows for teams, cost centers, or departments.
  4. Enable dynamic budgeting to create real-time budgets that match destination prices

Enable self-booking with everyone Business travelers:

  1. Add all users and administrators to the expense management software.
  2. Create automated expense approval workflows based on rules.
  3. Notify business travelers of new mobile app for scanning receipts.

Now it’s time to set up your expense management automation by integrating both platforms. With direct integration of the two solutions, you can choose to either bring expense management platform data into your travel management platform or vice versa.

If you bring data from your travel management platform (what you spent on flights, trains, rental cars and hotels) into your expense management platform, you’ll be able to analyze and report on all employee expenses in one place.

Or, you can pull travel-related spend data into your travel management platform to gain deep travel analytics insights.

Now that you’ve successfully set up both solutions, you’ll soon see how streamlined (and fast!) expense management automation for business travel can be! You’ll save a lot of time for everyone involved, reduce manual work, improve policy compliance, increase spend visibility, and start collecting accurate, real-time data so you can make more informed financial decisions.

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