Whether you find the experience of business travel enjoyable, or are prone to traveller fatigue, one thing is certain. Few enjoy doing their expenses once the trip is done. Completing expense reports once was, and sometimes still can be, an annoying or daunting process. Did you remember to keep the receipt for that breakfast you bought en route to your next connection? And how many people were at that dinner on the last night of the conference? Sometimes, the effort of working out the details scarcely seems worth the bother.
The bad old days of having to use spreadsheets and overly complex forms to do your expenses are gone...
By now, any travel management company worth its salt should be providing you with an efficient and straightforward electronic expensing tool. FCM offers our clients just that through our Connect platform. The Connect Hub is an excellent example of how innovation in the business travel industry has changed the way expensing is done to the benefit of businesses and travellers alike. Such expense management technology fundamentally changes the experience for the user, allowing them to quickly and efficiently enter the necessary data and submit their expenses using a convenient electronic tool. So instead of waiting until the end of the trip to lodge expenses all at once, travellers can take advantage of any downtime they have to keep on top of their expenses using their smartphone.
While using tools like this save the traveller time and hassle, it has also made the process dramatically more efficient and productive for the finance department. They can now approve expenses by reviewing all the submitted data for a claim electronically and approve it at the push of a button.
A travel management company that is keeping up with the rapid pace of innovation in the industry will be able to offer an integrated reporting function that allows you to see what you are getting for your travel spend. The Connect platform, for instance, gives clients a reporting suite which includes dashboards, scorecards and detailed overviews of your travel activity, all drawing on the expense data being entered by travellers. Dashboards and reports can be customised to suit a business’s goals and alleviate concerns, giving them the information, they need to make informed decisions about their travel program.
In this era of big data, no tool would be completed without a powerful analytics function to fully leverage valuable traveller expense data. Using the Connect hub analytics solution, insights within their spending data, allowing them to truly know where their spend is going and what they are getting for it. Benchmarking and forecasting functions, along with the consolidation of data from other platforms can help identify savings and efficiencies.
Expense technology has evolved a lot, but even the most enthusiastic tech geeks would admit that there are still improvements to aspire to in the future. That is why FCM partners with top names in the industry like Concur, to stay at the forefront of innovation. Exciting new opportunities await, with machine learning and AI help automate and gather intelligence so businesses can spend their time and resources putting this knowledge into practice rather than performing analysis.
Concur is currently experimenting with using machine learning to analyse complex bills, pulling up individual items with certain characteristics. This would let the person on the approval side go straight to items of interest or be notified of suspicious activity in the event of fraud against their staff. Another possibility for the future is the direct integration of payments with reporting, so no actual entering of data would be required, taking us one step closer to a seamless, frictionless expensing experience.
The world of expensing is changing for the better. New technologies are being applied to old problems, and innovative solutions are unwinding the knotty issues of business travel. So if you fret about having to do your expenses at the end of every trip, perhaps you might not have to worry for much longer.
FCM Expense management technology offers flexible finance solutions ensuring payment and expense reconciliation is fast, transparent and integrated. Find out more about it here!
This article first appeared on FCM Travel Solutions USA.