Companies need to upgrade their travel and expense management tools, Forrester says

As mobile technology disrupts the travel and financial services industries, employers need to be aware of the impact it’s having on travel and expense reports as well, according to a new report by Forrester Research Inc.

While the study, commissioned by SAP SE subsidiary (and cloud-based expense tracking service provider) Concur Technologies and conducted in April, found that more than 70 per cent of respondents were actively updating or planning to update their travel and expense report systems within six months as a result of digital disruption, it also discovered that nearly 70 per cent of companies believed employees were using more sophisticated trip planning and ticket purchasing tools in their personal lives.

“Employees are embracing new digital capabilities in their personal lives to make purchases, and they now expect their employers to support those same capabilities,” Forrester Research wrote in the report, which was released on Oct. 5. “Yet as [financial] leaders become more embedded strategically in other aspects of their businesses, their availability to devote time directly to expense management has been reduced.”

The report highlights the need for companies to ensure their travel and expense tools evolve to match today’s digital technology, particularly mobile devices, its authors say, noting that today’s travel and expense solutions often utilize employee-facing mobile apps while incorporating data analytics, real-time reporting, and process efficiencies to ensure managers have an easier time as well.

Businesses that fail to do so face five core issues, they say: extensive time requirements to submit needed documentation and approvals; a high number of inaccuracies caused by manual data entry; a lack of mobile connectivity with the company’s existing travel and expense system; lack of visibility and control of travel spending; and lack of timely reporting.

Challenges faced by survey respondents regarding travel and expense solution efficiency, by region.
Challenges faced by survey respondents regarding travel and expense solution efficiency, by region.

Unsurprisingly, businesses which had implemented improved travel and expense solutions reported reduced spending on employee-related expenses; improved employee productivity and satisfaction; fewer complications and errors with submissions and balances; faster invoice and reimbursement processing times; and increased productivity in other areas as a result.

To conduct the study, Forrester surveyed 500 financial decision makers in four regions – North America; Europe, Middle East, and Africa; Asia-Pacific; and Australia and New Zealand – at companies with between 100 and 999 employees (50 percent of respondents), or more than 20,000 employees, and supplemented the results of its online survey with six in-depth interviews at both small- and medium-sized businesses and enterprises. Four per cent of respondents were from Canada.

You can read the full report here.

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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