Respondents to Business Travelers News 2015 Expense Manager Survey rated the importance of easing expense report preparation for employees a five on an ascending five-point scale of benefits, indicating they considered it “most important.” That figure is up from the 46 percent who ranked usability supreme in 2013, the last year BTN conducted the survey.
At Oversight, we work with companies that use a myriad of expense management solutions: from cloud-based platforms like Concur to premise-based ERP solutions like Oracle iExpense and SAP’s on-premise T&E solution. When I speak with our customers I hear good things and bad things about all solutions, but when it comes to consistent customer satisfaction expressed by travel program managers, the customers with cloud-based solutions are more satisfied than the premised-based customers.
From an Oversight perspective, cloud-based solution providers like Concur make it far easier to acquire data. The Concur Platform, as an example, makes our implementation process a five-minute level of effort on the part of our Concur customers and reduces our level of effort to connecting to Concur and waiting for the data to transfer. After this initial connection, we configure our Connector for Concur to automate future transfers at whatever frequency our customer has requested. (Changing the frequency is a simple configuration change!)
For premise-based solutions, this same process is anything but quick and easy. While solutions like Oracle iExpense are much easier than other premise-based solutions, they are still far more time-consuming for our customers. Premise-based solutions place the data acquisition burden on our customers for both the initial extraction as well as for automating the ongoing process. Some of the non-Oracle premise-based solutions don’t capture and map credit transaction data with expense line data, meaning that a separate credit transaction stream is required in order to map expense transactions.
Travel data within expense reports is incredibly valuable, as the data can be used by companies to recognize patterns, save money, and create efficiencies in the business. The cloud based solutions that have data readily available open the door for other applications to increase what you’re able to get from the expense management platform alone.
While the obvious benefits to cloud-based solutions mostly serve the travel program manager, there are benefits that flow to travelers as well. Our customers have been able to reduce the requirements for manager approvals, and are able to automate the compliance process via analysis across 100% of the company’s transactions. This allows expense submissions and reimbursements to occur without delay, and operational audits to occur on an exception basis rather than be performed randomly.
For programs focused on making things as easy as possible for travelers (and themselves), our experience indicates that cloud-based expense solutions are the way to go.