Expense Management And Cost Control During A Travel Ban

4 minutes reading time

Travel ban

With travel bans in effect in many parts of the world, you may be (rightfully) wondering what makes expense management relevant now. The simple answer is: your expenses.

Because not all company expenses are linked to travel or doing business with the outside. Many of your expenses come from the day to day: parking, fuel, leasing cars, phone and internet subscriptions, etc.

Though often referred to as “travel and expense management”, these solutions are there to help you manage ALL your expenses. Centralising your subscriptions and other costs makes it easier for you to keep an eye on and manage spend. Which, I’m sure we can agree, is necessary given the remaining uncertainty.

What is an Expense Management System (EMS)?

An EMS is the system a business or organisation uses to process, pay, and control their business spend. It usually includes travel (transport, accommodation, food, etc.) but can encompass any other spending such as phone and data subscriptions, leasing or rental cars and even work from home supplies.

An expense management system is used to track employee spend while ensuring it falls within the organisation’s travel and expense policies as well as any applicable tax rules and regulations.

Using a powerful engine, artificial intelligence and machine learning, expense management solutions help automate the submitting, approving, and controlling of expenses while ensuring compliance. The embedded analytics help track spending to optimise it and avoid errors and fraud.

Leverage your EMS for cost control

Expense management is usually referred to in the context of travel. While very little travel has occurred over the past ten months, that does not make expense management obsolete, on the contrary.

Business spending hasn’t stopped, only shifted. Where companies used to spend a lot on travel expenses pre-COVID, they have since seen a huge increase in expenses for software and home working supplies. An expense management system helps keep track of this spend shift and identify cost optimisations.

By integrating corporate cards (credit cards, parking cards, fuel cards, etc.) with your expense management system, you import your spend data in near real-time to your expense management system allowing for a more accurate overview. Mobile phone or internet subscriptions are also easily imported into the system and allocated to individual collaborators.

The more data you import into your EMS, the more accurate the picture of your spending. By integrating their spending via numerous data sources into MobileXpense, one of our customers realised 1M€ in savings on a 9M€ spend budget. Up to 75% of these savings are down to spend management and cost control. Having all spend in one place makes it easy to analyse and manage and allows for data-driven decisions regarding changes to make to policies or suppliers.

Travel will resume, now is the time to prepare

While many businesses have come to understand that physical meetings are not as important as they used to believe, some meetings are better had in person. Maybe it is a factory visit or an audit which cannot be performed remote. Whatever it is, business travel is bound to resume as the current health crisis resolves.

Implementing an expense management system when staff aren’t traveling is an excellent way of working through the growing pains that accompany any new system. Getting people on board, even with a user-friendly solution, can take time. But doing so now will save you later.

Making sure your system works for daily spend and with a remote workforce guarantees an easier transition for a traveling workforce – whenever that may be. Your employees will have gotten used to the solution in the comfort of their own homes and using it later when they travel will be second nature.

Implementing a solution now also gives you the luxury of time. You can roll it out globally, taking the time to assess the pilot without urgency before broadening the scope.

Furthermore, the insights obtained from an expense management solution are invaluable. As markets continue to fluctuate, knowing where your organisation’s money is going supports cost saving initiatives both now and in the future. And as travel resumes, trains or cars may be the preferred mode of transport for a while. This can, and should, affect your corporate travel planning and booking. Without an automated solution, making those links and identifying trends is nearly impossible.

Automated expense management is not obsolete, but rather a tool to gather insights and help you implement cost control measures. The more data you collect, the better and more factual picture you have of your spending. Implementing an automated expense management tool while collaborators aren’t traveling allows you to identify and avoid bottlenecks before they can cause you any trouble.

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Posted on 05 Jul 2021