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Global Travel & Expense Process Transformation

There are great efficiency and compliance opportunities for Shared Services organizations that consolidate their Travel & Expense programs globally. The challenges of crossing borders and attaining global leverage may be great, but the benefits have been significant for those who have embarked on this initiative.

A recent Peeriosity PeercastTM in the Corporate Card research area featured a company that recently consolidated their legacy Travel & Expense programs, processes, and systems for North America and Europe, with plans to continue in their other regions. Prior to the initiative, the inventory of unique card programs throughout North America and Europe was in excess of 50, with a goal of moving to a single program.

PeercastTM attendees participated in a poll to indicate how they would describe the current T&E process at their company:

description of Travel & Expense Process Transformation at your company ipolling peeriosity

A number of concerns precipitated the project, including:

  • From a global perspective of transaction volume, processing and reimbursement costs are benchmarked as high
  • Process cycle times varied greatly
  • Multiple General Ledger interfaces were costly to maintain and lacked consistency in cost allocation
  • Inadequate global level reporting (cost and compliance)
  • Global leverage on travel booking agency costs was a missed opportunity
  • Global leverage on vendor rebates was sub-optimized

The project objective was well defined:

Integrate the travel reservation desk, online booking tool, corporate card, and back-office expense management process. The resulting process will be more efficient, reduce risk, be easy to use, and be scalable to other regions around the globe.

The project team defined the desired process and then searched for an enabling technology solution. In looking for a tool the attributes they were looking for included:

  • Cloud-based solution (fast, affordable deployment)
  • Mobile device access with full functionality
  • Superior imaging and receipt handling
  • Preventative and detective controls (compliance and spend control)
  • Robust reporting capability
  • Global compatibility
  • Comprehensive back-office support option (help desk, administration, audit, reporting)

The new process was enabled by a third-party solution that was integrated into their ERP. The initial implementation included North America and Europe and was a great success. Over 50 legacy card programs were consolidated into a single program with two card options (depending upon country). Benefits included:

  • Actionable and useful reporting that led to cost reductions
  • Full visibility across all categories of travel and expense
  • Employee submissions on a timelier basis
  • Significant reduction on past due accounts and fees
  • Intuitive user interfaces on PCs and mobile devices
  • Enhanced audit ability and drive for compliance
  • Automated workflows have significantly reduced all cycle times
  • Enhanced visibility has facilitated added lean initiatives throughout the process for greater efficiency
  • Reduced cards, higher rebates

The Peeriosity PeercastTM concluded with attendees discussing some of their key learnings in implementing Travel & Expense programs. Those mentioned most frequently:

  • Centralize process ownership, preferably in Shared Services
  • Cross-functional involvement and buy-in, particularly Legal, Tax, HR, Procurement, and Audit are critical
  • Listen to your customers and give them a voice in the design
  • Statutory requirements by country vary, especially as it relates to receipt handling. Be flexible enough in your design to ensure compliance
  • VAT configuration will be more complex and time-consuming than you expect

Our feature company is in the process of implementing the program in regions around the globe and expects the benefits to continue to increase as they leverage a global scale.

In a follow-up poll of Peeriosity members, 25% indicated they have implemented global Travel & Expense programs and 62% indicated that they will have global programs within three years.

What are your plans to consolidate your Travel and Expense programs and make them more efficient?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

1 “PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees.

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