Tuesday 24 August 2021

Online booking tools do not clarify the blurred lines in T&E for today’s home worker.

Element Travel Tech Stand: BTSE110 - Innovation Faceoff B
Online booking tools do not clarify the blurred lines in T&E for today’s home worker.
The only value added reseller in managed travel

We have moved to a hybrid working environment and companies should be looking at their processes and policy around employee spending and recognising that their existing management systems just do not cut it in a post-Covid world.

Online booking tools do not clarify the blurred lines in T&E for today’s home worker.

Before Covid, approval for employees to travel was based on a person asking to spend company money on a flight, hotel, rail, or rental car. The employee booked via a travel management company or other travel service provider. Approval was growing as businesses sort to control how their employees spent their money.

As the lines blur across commute or business trip and the stationary cupboard is not available, it is time to recognise that using a Corporate Booking Tool, as your approval tool, is no longer going to work for your business or your employees.

There is little regard given to sales reps who live in the city they sell in. I have been one of these sales reps for most of my life, working mostly in London but occasionally needing to travel to other parts of the UK where I use my car or jump on a train.

I could go into London, have 4 meetings in a day, no need for approval as I used my travel card, which I paid for by me. With no need to get formal approval for this. Why would I need to? I did not need an air ticket or a hotel.

Is Trip Approval via OBT fit for purpose?

Employees spend company money in many ways such as travel, entertainment, and other non-travel related expenses. Using an OBT to approve travel or other company spend will not continue to work in the change that covid has forced on us. The OBT only allows approval to spend company money on air, hotel, train, or rental car.

Companies examine all their costs, including T&E spend and the approval of it. It is likely that large companies already have a process in place, but small and medium size do not. This is where a solution that uses expense software that includes T&E and non-T&E purchase requests is the answer.

Approval of all company spend should sit in one place, with real-time approval and visibility of what is going on and people in finance should be communicating with those who look after non-T&E spend.  As we move towards hybrid working companies should be looking at their approval processes and the software used, as it should be changed.

Developments in software to manage the new way of working.

SME businesses need to be looking at how they can move away from Excel and paper-based expense processes, with people not being in an office. It will never be a great employee experience now having to pop down to the post office to send off expenses. Business expenses and costs continue to be a focus for finance teams.

Making sure you have a real time view of employee expenses and travel costs is going to be key. Waiting to see what comes in vs the budget is not the way finance teams want to work. They want visibility to real time costs incurred before they are sent thought via the expense process.

Expense software companies are responding to the new mix of home and office or a move to working from home. They are now supplying features and functionality that allow the purchase of non-T&E items. As people are not in the office, the stationary cupboard is not something they can use, so keeping T&E separate from general procurement is key. Even if the employee is using a corporate card, there will be different suppliers and approval for this expenditure.

Expense software supplies as a real time view of employee spend. Enhancements in software delivered by Zoho Expense for example, provide a central platform where employees can request authority to travel, entertain, and most importantly, purchase things that they normally get from the stationary cupboard.

We have moved to a hybrid working environment and companies should be looking at their processes and policy around employee spending and recognising that their existing management systems just do not cut it in a post-Covid world.

This blog was posted by Gavin Smith, Director, Element Travel Technology, who are exhibiting at Business Travel Show Europe in the Innovation Zone Sep 30 - Oct 01 2021. Please register for your free visitor pass here.

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