Global Expense Management: The Questions To Ask

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Choosing an enterprise expense management solution for your company may be a time intensive commitment, but the managers in your company should understand the benefits of automating expense management and be ready to identify the right solution for your company's need and goals.

To start evaluating vendors, you need to prepare a set of questions that will help you decide on the best one for you. To help you in this task, we have gathered some of the essential questions you might want to ask when choosing an enterprise expense management solution.

Features

Depending on your company's needs and objectives, you will define the most suitable expense management solution and identify the must-have features of your customized solution. The features you get should allow you to automate processes and get the job done faster, easier and without errors. The questions you might want to ask about expense features are:

  • How is master data synchronized?
  • Are out-of-policy expenses automatically flagged?
  • Is it possible to escalate approval or have dual approval?
  • Is there a check performed to avoid fraud or duplicate expenses from being entered?
  • Is it possible to customize the approval workflow?
  • Is it possible to add comments when entering an expense or accepting/rejecting it?
  • Is there a list of all the supported currencies?
  • Is the application able to manage and proactively update country rules regarding VAT and per diems?
  • Is the application able to handle cash advances? If so, how?
  • Is there an audit trail per expense item?

Integrations

Integrating your enterprise expense management solution with other automated systems in your company helps you overcome many challenges that your managers face when trying to keep costs under control. You need a flexible expense management software provider that understands your needs and is able to support you with the integrations your company really needs to start obtaining results. For this, you need to ask questions such as:

  • Describe the integration with ERP/SAP/accounting software/payroll software
  • Does the tool integrate with credit/lodge cards? If so, how?
  • Is there an automated interface with our accounting software or G/L interface?
  • Does your tool have mileage? If so, is it integrated with Google Maps?
  • Does it provide updated information regarding exchange rates?

Users

A user-friendly solution is essential for good user experience and your key to new sources of savings. You must ensure that the user interface has everything your company needs to encourage employees to use it regularly to manage expenses in your company. Here are some user-related questions you could ask:

  • What are the available languages for the user interface?
  • What kind of support is offered for the end-user and the administrator?
  • Can users be identified through SSO?
  • Is access differentiated by user role?
  • Can users attach receipts at item/report level?

Mobile Application

Mobile expense applications are designed for the needs of modern companies and their business travellers. A solution that allows your employees to manage their travel expenses on the go is exactly what you need to obtain real-time information on their spending behavior and to facilitate the automated approval process. Mobile apps make everything easier during business trips, meaning you will want to ask questions regarding mobile features such as:

  • Is there a mobile app?
  • What functionalities does it have?
  • Are the mobile functionalities the same as those on the desktop app?
  • For which OS is the mobile app available?

Travel

Integration with travel booking tools is one of the most important features you might need for your enterprise expense management software in order to decrease the costs related to business trips. Look for flexible expense management software suppliers and ask them questions such as:

  • Describe the travel integration.
  • Can pre-approval be required before booking travel?
  • Which OBT/TMC do you have a partnership/can you integrate with?

OCR

With Optical Character Recognition (OCR), receipt submission and checking for your employees can be done automatically. For frequent travellers, an OCR-enabled app allows them to scan receipts immediately and avoid spending time manually processing receipts but OCR features may also benefit other categories of users. To find out exactly who, ask the following:

  • Describe the OCR functionalities for expense creation.
  • Describe the OCR functionalities for expense checking.
  • What information can the OCR read?
  • How is this feature integrated with the expense management solution?

Reporting

Submitting reports on time and generating insightful reports are probably two of your biggest pain points when it comes to manually processed travel expenses and two of the reasons why you are so determined to invest in a corporate expense management tool. Pay attention to the reporting features and ask the right questions:

  • What reporting solutions are available with the tool?
  • Is it possible to delegate expense reporting and approval?
  • Can reports be exported to excel?
  • Is there a business intelligence solution to help analyze and reduce our costs?

IT & Implementation

You have now defined your problems and identified the features that you need to achieve your goals regarding corporate expense management. When searching for the right software provider, be sure to collaborate with your IT department to ensure a smooth implementation process. Delaying the implementation of an automated travel management solution only generates higher costs. Be sure you obtain answers to the following questions:

  • What is the average implementation time?
  • What customer resources will you need to assist in the implementation?
  • Where are your data centers located?
  • How long is the data stored?
  • Do you have any certifications? If so, please list them.
  • How are receipts archived?
  • What are the security features of the application?

You should involve all critical stakeholders in the evaluation process and add questions to our suggested list based on the feedback from you colleagues. Consider including members from IT, finance, accounting, training and performance management.

Ultimately, you want a solution that will help you minimize expenses while keeping employees happy. Choosing an enterprise expense management solution is a team effort, and we hope that our list of questions is helpful for your project committee.

Posted on 07 Dec 2020