Automated Expense Management Makes T&E Tracking More Efficient
It’s tempting to reduce the benefits of automated expense management to a savings of paper, but that barely scratches the surface. T&E automation enables you to pull together a large variety of information from a variety of sources, merging both internal and external processes into one transparent data stream. That transparency makes your organization smarter and more nimble.
The right app can seamlessly integrate a flood of expense-related information that comes from external sources in a broad variety of forms. Take for example data from credit card companies. Good expense management software can accept this data in whatever file format it comes. Another example is mileage information from online map services. Directly importing the information into the app makes it possible to precisely determine mileage allowances for travel by car. Such software can also automatically retrieve and update currency exchange rates, which change frequently. It might also allow users to submit receipts for travel expenditures via fax, smart phone snapshots or drag-and-drop in a Web app, saving users time and effort.
Advantages in Travel Booking
Integrating expense management software with external systems such as travel booking services can bring additional benefits. With integration, the app can obtain authorization for reservations before booking them. It can also provide the employee with an itinerary, either printable or as a calendar item; and it can automatically generate an expense form based on the booking. Similarly, integration with internal corporate systems lets the app exchange data and information with industry standard ERP and AP platforms, including SAP, Oracle, Quickbooks and MS Dynamics.
The app gets even more powerful with mobile integration. Employees can access itineraries and other information generated by the automated systems while out of the office. They also can, as noted, submit expense receipts via smart phone snapshots. Once submitted, employees can track payments via their smart phones. Such mobile integration, of course, should be available for all major platforms, including Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Mobile.
The Right System Provides Back-end Accountability
On the back end, an automated expense management system can provide a number of useful auditing, monitoring and reporting capabilities. It can generate reports based on common criteria such as department, employee, payee, category and date range. It lets managers flag problem areas such as outstanding reports, missing receipts and travel policy violations. It lets them analyze expenditures according to approval limits, mileage and other factors. It provides information necessary for regulatory compliance. And for maximum convenience, it can deliver all of these types of information through either reports or dashboards.
An automated system that combines all of these capabilities can considerably improve the expense management process.
First, it integrates all types of expenditures, including credit card and out-of-pocket payments, within a single system. It reduces several types of errors, including duplicate expense entries, non-compliant transactions and missing paperwork. More broadly, it ensures that expenditures conform to company rules, while allowing managers the flexibility to change rules as necessary. For employees, it makes the entire process of submitting and being reimbursed for expenses faster and less troublesome. Managers get real-time visibility into travel and entertainment spending, and more control over both.
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