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How Global is your Travel and Expense Program?

Consolidating and standardizing functions and getting global leverage makes sense but is it possible to take on a global T&E program in shared services given all the local country variations?

On a recent Peeriosity Webcast within the Corporate Card Research Area, a member company talked about the challenges they faced in implementing a global T&E program: compliance, processing, reimbursement, disparate systems, interfaces between HR and AP, audits – to name but a few. And this doesn’t even take into account the variables of managing a travel card, or the cultural implications. How would a large, global organization manage the entire global program from a single location? How would you source it? Where would you locate it? What policies would govern it?

Members heard from a peer company that had taken on a global implementation that had successfully delivered cost savings and excellent customer service within a well-defined compliance structure. As a starting point, the company leveraged one of its regional systems and processes, which were recognized internally as “best practice.” Global policy guidelines were issued as a key foundation to moving forward.

Once policy, process, and systems were chosen, the question turned to the source. Who and where would execute this plan? An in-depth analysis concluded that a captive, off-shore solution would facilitate speed of execution, offer flexibility regarding the future process and system changes, and enable the company to leverage a skilled labor force in a low-cost labor market where it already had an infrastructure of existing operations.

The webcast discussion went into some detail regarding the company’s transition plans, including training the offshore team, configuring systems, and familiarizing employees, globally, with the new process. It was discussed that change management always seems to take on a different perspective when people are concerned about their reimbursements!

The results have been excellent. Cost-saving and increased rebate goals have been met, and customer satisfaction ratings are overwhelmingly positive as cycle-time-to-reimbursement is well within (and in most cases, better than) agreed service levels by country/region, with quality approaching Six Sigma levels.

During the webcast, members shared their own “war stories” and lessons learned in implementing global or regional T&E programs. Some best practices that were shared included: how to best be aware of cultural and statutory implications and varying guidelines in locations where personal credit was not readily available. Overall, excellent insights and improvement opportunities were identified by all who participated.

This conversation continues in the Peeriosity Corporate Card Research Area through peer-to-peer connections, polls, discussion threads, webcasts, and shared documents.

What steps is your organization taking to optimize your T&E programs globally?

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