As is the case with almost any major business process area, the opportunity to shift support of the Travel Expense (T&E) process to an off-shore location can be an attractive one, especially for major companies with a large employee base and a robust corporate card program. This was the situation for a Peeriosity member company, which, in March 2018, transitioned its support for travelers based in the United States (U.S.) to their Shared Service Center in Poland. Since then, they have also expanded that team to support Germany and Spain. On a recent Peeriosity PeercastTM, they discussed their decision process, the transition, and lessons learned in carrying out this transition.
Our feature company, a large manufacturer with USD $40 billion in revenue and over 50,000 employees, created their Shared Services operation in 2006, with the T&E process included in the original scope. In 2012, the company outsourced the majority of the T&E process for the U.S. to a provider who provided services from an offshore location, and in 2016 the process was brought back in-house and primarily staffed with temporary employees based in the U.S. in preparation to transition the process offshore in 2018 to a captive center located in Poland. Some of the internal capabilities that enabled this approach include the following:
- Standard systems and processes
- Global policy and credit card mandate
- Use of SharePoint for credit card applications and image repository for receipts
- Bank website for card administration
- Established communication methods (Outlook mailboxes for support and receipts, shared phone line)
- Experienced cardholder base
The primary challenges the company faced when making the decision to offshore the T&E process included several related to the new location, including overcoming time zone challenges, ensuring that the necessary skill sets are available in the labor pool, and that employees have the potential for growth. Other important considerations included language capabilities and potential cost savings.
Additional details regarding the transition can be found on the Peeriosity member website, including a recording of the PeercastTM and detailed presentation materials.
iPollingTM Results Review
The results from a recent Peeriosity member poll created utilizing the iPollingTM technology provide some good insight regarding what companies are doing as it relates to offshoring the T&E process. The first poll question asked about the status of moving T&E support to a lower cost location, with 63% of the companies saying they have implemented that approach. An additional 11% of the companies are evaluating this design, but have not yet made a decision and the remaining 26% have not yet considered doing so.
The second poll question then looked at what was the company’s perspective when it comes to moving T&E processes to a lower cost location. Reviewing the results, 39% of the companies feel that all or most T&E processes can be successfully moved for cost advantage, while 33% indicated that there are some T&E processes that they prefer to keep closer to their customers. For 17%, their culture is generally biased toward keeping processes at their home location, while for the remaining
11% of the companies, due to automation, there is not a compelling reason to move processes for cost advantage.
Some of the poll comments made by Peeriosity members related to this poll include the following:
Computers & Electronics Member: We have moved the great majority of our activities overseas. Really the only thing we have kept within North America is an Employee Spend Management Manager who maintains our expense tool Concur and deals with escalations.
Manufacturing Member: We transitioned much of our T&E process to a lower cost location many years ago.
Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Member: Our T&E review process is highly automated and not a significant labor cost.
Non-Profit Member: Prefer to keep this process at our HQ office.
A significant cost saving opportunity exists for companies that are willing to shift administrative and operational support of the Travel Expense process area to an offshore location. With focused resources and strong project leadership, this transition can take place in just a few months at most companies.
What is the status at your company as it relates to where T&E processing takes place? Is your current approach meeting your needs or is it time to take consider alternative designs?
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 iPollingTM.