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Using Mobile Devices to Simplify the Travel Expense Process

The introduction of mobile device technology has had a big impact on all of us.  By eliminating the need for a separate watch, GPS device, scanner, or camera, mobile devices have changed the world.  Because of their unique capabilities, in addition to being pretty decent mobile telephones, it’s no surprise that mobile devices have made much headway into the business world, including impacting many parts of the end-to-end travel process; from travel planning and booking, expense report preparation and submission, through manager approval and expense report processing.

A recent PeercastTM featured a large global company in the Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, and Biotech industry on the topic of “Using Mobile Devices to Simplify the Travel Expense Process”.  The feature company processes expense reports from over 50 countries using a Concur client running on top of an SAP ERP platform.  The company’s travel process includes the use globally of the Concur Mobile App, with roughly 20,000 users.

The feature company cited the following benefits of mobile receipt capture:

  • Streamlining and simplifying the process for the traveler by eliminating the need to use a scanner, fax machine, or to submit hard copy receipts by mail
  • Helping to keep receipts organized and decreasing the number of lost receipts
  • Reducing and, in many cases, eliminating the need to process or retain paper
  • Clear color images of receipts make it easier for the person approving the expense report, and for any audit review that might be required
  • All receipts can be electronically stored centrally, making access very easy

One of the important steps taken was to change the need for receipts in the first place.  For example, in the US market, with the exception of lodging, no receipts are legally required for expenses under USD $75.  In non-US markets, the company worked to get approval to eliminate paper receipt requirements.

Most notably, in all markets, they re-examined existing thresholds for where receipts were required.  This evaluation included examining the change in threshold that would be needed to reduce the number of submitted receipts for defined intervals (for example, by 10%, 25%, or 50%) in a specific geographic market or region.  Based on this review, they changed the thresholds, to the benefit of reducing time for travelers and approvers without significantly increasing risk. The other likely benefit was to reduce resistance from travelers to capture receipts via a mobile device since fewer line items required receipts, which reduced the traveler’s overall effort to complete their expense report.  Fewer receipts also streamlined the approval process by making manager review easier and simplifying the final processing of the expense report.   

To support the PeercastTM, an iPollingTM question looked at the current capabilities employees have to use mobile devices as a part of the T&E process.  At 34% of the companies, the capabilities are significant, including travel booking, receipt scanning, preparing the expense report, and approving the expense report.  At an additional 14% of companies, the same list applies with the exception that the employee doesn’t book travel.  Interestingly, at 17% of companies, mobile devices are used for manager approval only, and at 21% of companies, no mobile device capabilities are currently used in the T&E process.  Here are the details:

current capabilities at your company for employees to use mobile devices as part of Simplifying the Travel Expense Process ipolling

The next question looked at the percentage of expense reports prepared using a mobile device.  While the results suggest that the use of mobile devices is increasingly common, it appears that currently the majority of expense reports aren’t prepared using a mobile device.  Here’s the breakdown: 

percentage of company's expense reports currently prepared using a mobile device Simplify the Travel Expense Process ipolling

Below are several of the comments added by members to the iPollingTM questions:

  • We will be converting to Concur later this year and will evaluate at that time.
  •  We use the Concur mobile app.
  • Travel booking is only available in the US, with scanning, preparation, and approval via mobile available globally.
  •  We can take pictures of receipts, and start expense reports, but we cannot complete and submit expense reports. We can approve a report using the mobile app.
  • We are looking at Fiori functionality with SAP to be able to prepare expense reports. We do use mobile technology for approvals today.
  • An automated T&E platform is only in use in our US locations. The tools will be implemented in non-US locations over the next 12 months. In the US, we have apps to scan or photograph receipts and upload and approve reports via mobile device, but report preparation is still done through the web portal.

How has your company used mobile devices to simplify the travel process?  Are travelers able to book travel and complete expense reports using their smartphones or tablet devices?

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


“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. 

 “iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

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