I found that looking at Travel and Expense processes in organisations is usually more frustrating the better the system is they have in place. No: it’s not a typo. For a change, my frustration is not about system issues, but about the huge potential a state of the art T&E system brings, but is left untapped, because of a lack of vision / big picture view. To some extend, this has been the case with the old SAP on-premise Travel Management solution already, but with a new generation system like Concur, the gap can be huge.
That’s why I write this open letter to all CFOs, who would usually not get involved in T&E, but should now at least briefly – just to set the scene:
As a CFO, the nitty gritty of expense management and travel booking is probably nothing you want to be involved a lot. However, you are probably best positioned to see the big picture and drive a holistic approach to serve all parties involved. Without that C-level support, what we usually see as normal practice (ignoring those organisations where it’s a complete mess) is:
- the accounting team driving process rigour and tax compliance in expense capturing trying to support 4 AP staff
- and/or the head of procurement driving low cost and vendor number minimisation (in theory going hand in hand in real live often contradicting each other) to make life easier for 3 people in the travel team or procurement
- and/or sometimes HR/payroll popping in looking for tax issues and occasionally uttering the words “duty of care”
- and always: the 1000 employees, who are out there to sell your products or serve your customers, being frustrated about paperwork and intransparent admin processes, left alone in the cold with travel issues and being kicked, if they book the “wrong” hotel to get this critical customer appointment scheduled in the last minute.
Sure: you can have terrible T&E practices, even when using a world class software. But it doesn’t go both ways any more: it is very difficult to have a state of the art T&E process that makes compliance easy, reduces cost further than any heavy handed procurement focus could AND supports your travelers in the field as much as possible so they can focus on customers, unless you have the 2 crucial ingredients:
- a world class system that includes a wide scope of vendor integration, analytics, mobile capabilities and add on services like traveler support
- AND top level sponsorship to get all back-office parties involved together to achieve savings plus excellent customer Service.
One such system (the best in my opinion) is Concur.
Top level support: that’s you.
For some more insights into the scope of (possibly lost) opportunity in a Concur implementation, check out this blog from last summer: What Walking Cars, German Folk Songs and Goats can Teach You About Concur Implementations