Travel & Expense

Thoughts on the State of T&E Spend

on July 10, 2014

Concur recently released a survey on the state of T&E spend (conducted in conjunction with Forrester Research.) We at Oversight are very excited about this study, as the findings fall directly in line with the problems we address for our clients. Being a Concur partner, we are always impressed with the ways they try to innovate and shed light on the problems within the T&E and expense management space.

Companies aren’t Analyzing T&E Spend

The big headline from this report on the web: “T&E costs are the second most difficult line item for businesses to control.” But is anyone really surprised by that? Behind payroll, T&E is the second largest expense item within most organizations, but as far as control? T&E seems wide open to the type of expenditures and behaviors that are difficult to corral if you don’t know what you’re looking at. As an FYI: Payroll and Salaries ranked as the third most difficult expense to control, but even that can be managed with rigorous budgeting and HR oversight.

The report ranks maintenance and repairs as the #1 line item companies find difficult control, which seems like a “no brainer” to me given that repairs and maintenance (particularly the costly ones) are often unexpected and difficult to predict. Companies often have money set aside for these operating emergencies, but rarely do they have “buckets” of money for when T&E spending gets off track.

 

With the staff and IT resources necessary to keep a largely manual system up-to-date, it is no wonder that most companies (24% in the report) find their T&E expenses running away with them. One of the largest concerns listed in the survey was that few companies have a “real time” view of T&E or what a full analysis of spending would say about their company, employees, and patterns of behavior.

 

Another thing we loved seeing: survey respondents that actually want to identify spending shouldn’t be part of their travel program, and to identify how much preferred vendors are being utilized. 39% ranked this as very important, and we couldn’t agree more. Using preferred vendors and catching non-compliant behavior can add up to large savings, so this is very important. You can only get answers like this with a system that can accurately analyze 100% of T&E transactions.

 

59% of survey respondents reported primarily relying on spreadsheets to analyze T&E costs, as this is the easiest way to consolidate data between HR, expense reporting software, and supplier invoices. To me, in 2014, organizations shouldn’t have to rely on spreadsheets to perform analysis, not when the benchmarking capabilities and cost savings of a third-party analysis provider make such a strong case for outsourcing.

Catching out-of-policy spending wasn’t the only thing on respondents crave from T&E technology. The report focuses on how many of the respondents feel T&E spend management is hampered by their software platform’s reporting shortcomings.  60% felt the availability of reports and dashboards on mobile devices was the biggest pitfall of their current T&E analytics tool. Another 42% said their ability to import T&E data from other sources was their biggest concern. And finally, one-third of the companies cannot automatically distribute T&E data or follow-up on important issue items.

Which is where Oversight Insights On Demand™ comes in. You can find out more about our Insights and how they work, but what you really need to know is this: we automate the analysis of 100% of T&E transactions (through expense management partners like Concur and other platforms) to identify patterns of aberrant behavior and what they mean for your company. We do it automatically through our web-based solution, and we integrate with a variety of platforms to help you do it.

I’ll break down the full benefits of automated T&E transaction analysis in my post next week, but for now, just know that the results of this survey (if they are a reality for you and your organization) do not have to be the standard or the norm. Insights On Demand is out there ready to make spreadsheets and manual audit, history.

And here’s an important question - Once you have the analysis, how will you use it to make a difference in your organization?

Patrick Taylor

Patrick Taylor is an authority in the convergence of business analytics, information security, and the implementation of technology to boost organizational performance. An innovator in his field, Patrick founded Oversight Systems in 2003 and served as President and CEO for 15 years. In this role, he helped hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies improve financial, accounting, and auditing processes. Previously, Patrick held leadership positions with Oracle, Symantec, and Internet Security Systems (ISS). Patrick has a bachelor’s degree Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

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