As more companies transition to global designs for Shared Services, one of the most significant impacts is on the business travel process, where the majority of employees most impacted are typically either upper management or are otherwise directly involved in sales and marketing efforts. As these employees shift from one region or business unit to another, having consistent processes for travel bookings and expense reimbursements is an important consideration. Yes, there is the impact of reducing expense report processing costs, but the greater benefit comes from making life easier for travelers so that they can focus on revenue generating activities.
The good news is that with the move to global ERPs and the use of sophisticated travel and expense management software (with Concur the most popular), more companies are able to successfully make the transition to a global design. Yet with all of the success, smoothly making the transition has its challenges, with a number of barriers and obstacles to either overcome, or, in the case of country or local tax or legal regulations, to ensure you are in compliance.
During a recent Peeriosity PeercastTM, a global manufacturing company with over $25B in annual revenue discussed their approach to implementing a global travel card. Some of the key enterprise standards cited as important considerations include:
- Corporate liability
- Individual bill, central pay
- Under a global contract
- Automated feeds to travel and expense systems
- 24/7 local language cardholder support
- Online system for card administration
- Consistent card application process
The scope of the new global program included over 25,000 cards, with eleven countries implemented that account for 99% of the company travel spend. Global standards achieved include:
- Corporate liability, including China
- Automation of daily transaction files and payments
- Standard process documentation
- Centrally managed IT support
- All transactions in one system for reporting card activity
Challenges and some exceptions remain. For example, SharePoint paperless application and routing is used with the exception of countries that require paper documents. Individual bill, central pay is used except where government regulations require a different process, and travelers are responsible for paying late fees except where labor laws or work councils disallow.
iPollingTM Results Review
A supporting Peeriosity poll created using the iPollingTM technology provides additional context for this discussion by examining the level of process standardization for travel card programs and the challenges that member companies face when trying to expand their use of global standards. With regards to the level of process standardization the results are impressive, with 66% of member companies indicating that they have global standards in place for their travel card programs.
When considering the challenges faced while standardizing the travel card program, while many different types were identified, for 55% the biggest challenges relate to tax and legal differences between countries and, in some cases, local jurisdictions.
A few of the poll comments from Peeriosity members on this topic are as follows:
- The main challenge faced is not all markets have a corporate card program available with our bank of choice, forcing us to look at secondary options for a card program. Ideally, we would have one card provider globally.
- We have the same problem as cited above regarding availability in all markets. For example, we had to switch card providers due to changes in EMEA, then recently moved North America to that program as well.
- We are almost 100% global. We just have a few minor issues with aligning smaller countries (less than 100 employees traveling), because it’s hard to justify the cost vs the benefit.
- The main challenge we face is currency exchange fees for one program across several regions.
- Our biggest challenges to expanding process standardization are country regulations with how the credit card program works or not enough employees to support a program.
- The biggest challenge is our employees want to use different brands of cards.
- The biggest challenge is acceptability of American Express Card in some countries. China also has restrictions on using a non-China credit card.
- Mexico has been the most difficult due to local requirements.
Many companies have achieved success in implementing global standards for their travel card program. However, even the most advanced programs have remaining challenges and obstacles, with tax and legal regulations being the most common, with some requiring significant differences for how the travel card program is administered. Having a standard process helps reduce travel expense processing costs, but more importantly, it reduces the effort and possible frustration of frequent travelers.
Rather than tackle the challenges in isolation, many of the world’s leading companies are openly sharing insights for how to best approach specific issues and challenges, with the idea that everyone can benefit from the lessons learned via the actual experiences of peers. Once you have insight to the approaches of peers, with the opportunity to discuss specifics, many challenges can be easily overcome.
What is the current level of process standardization for your company’s travel card program? What challenges are you facing as you work to expand process standards?
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 to 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.