Streamlining Travel and Entertainment: Cost Optimization, Efficient Request Handling, and Policy Management

Written By:
Or Chacham, CPA

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T&E: from burden to benefit

Travel and entertainment processes should be built around making it as easy as possible for employees to be successful in their roles; whether that’s impressing a new client, presenting at a conference, or any number of other other activities that drive value for the company.

Unfortunately, in too many cases, these processes are a source of friction, resentment, and stress – the exact opposite of the desired outcome.

So how can your organization ensure that you’re getting the most out of your T&E processes? And how can you drive efficient request handling and policy management?

How to optimize Travel & Entertainment processes

There are a number of tried and tested ways to optimize the processes around travel and entertainment. Some of the most successful include:

Streamlined request handling

This is all about making it as easy as possible for employees to handle travel and entertainment expenses, from beginning to end. This also means automating processes so that approvers and finance teams aren’t bogged down in busywork, and can focus on high-value activities.

Streamlined request handling includes within it:

  • Quick approvals: the last thing employees want or need is delayed approvals that leave them out-of-pocket, or unsure whether all expenses will be covered. By quickly approving and reimbursing expenses – subject to company policy of course – trust can be built with employees, and they’ll be focused on how to maximize value for the company, and not be distracted by a broken process.
  • Zero paperwork: the manual expense report must be one of the most hated documents on earth; no sooner has an employee come back from a conference or meeting, they have to fill in a tedious report and provide it to the finance department. With a streamlined approach, the entire process is digital and automated – removing hassle and wasted time, and improving employee morale, making it easier for the employee to cooperate and adopt a solution.
  • Removal of tools and barriers: the key here is centralization; one solution that covers reimbursement from A to Z. The last thing you or your employees need is more tools to learn, apps to find, and places for things to fall through the cracks.
  • Stay human-centered: the way people work has changed. We’re no longer office-bound, and we consume our news, make our calls, and compose our emails on the go. Travel and entertainment request handling shouldn’t be any different; employees should be able to request and approve reimbursements from anywhere using their mobile phone.
  • Make it as easy as possible for all: not just for employees who have to deal with frustrating manual processes, but also for finance teams that have to re-input the same information. Streamlined means full integration with your accounting software for automatic syncing that’s reflected in your books.
  • Utilizing AI: using AI can strengthen and improve the employee experience while also reducing the manual workload for employees and finance teams. By employing AI, you can automate the detection of expense categories based on actual transactions. When company credit cards are used, the system can even automatically apply relevant tags. Additionally, AI can provide valuable insights and analytics to the finance team, helping them identify and address risks. This includes tracking where expenses occur, granting executive management and leadership a clear view of spending patterns.

Efficient management of Travel and Entertainment policies

Efficient management of T&E policies is a crucial aspect of financial discipline and strategic decision-making within organizations.

A well-structured T&E policy provides a clear framework that guides employees in their travel and entertainment activities while aligning expenses with the company's objectives. By setting spending limits and defining acceptable expenses, organizations can ensure that resources are utilized correctly .

Implementing modern expense management software and using corporate cards instead of classic reimbursement further streamlines the process, allowing for real-time tracking, accurate reporting, and seamless integration with financial systems.

Why implement more efficient processes?

Implementing more efficient Travel and Entertainment (T&E) processes is essential for several compelling reasons.

Firstly, by establishing a culture of accountability, efficient T&E processes encourage employees to make responsible spending decisions and adhere to the organization's policies. This ensures that expenses are justified, aligned with business objectives, and not subject to abuse or misuse.

Secondly, improving efficiency in T&E processes streamlines the entire workflow, from pre-approval to reimbursement, reducing administrative burdens and saving valuable time for both employees and finance teams. Automated expense management tools can simplify data entry, approval workflows, and report generation, making the process faster and more seamless.

Furthermore, efficient T&E processes drive significant cost savings for organizations. By promoting cost-consciousness and negotiating corporate discounts with preferred vendors, companies can optimize travel and entertainment expenses without compromising the quality of business interactions.

Moreover, ensuring greater transparency in T&E processes instills confidence in stakeholders, shareholders, and clients. Transparent expense reporting and audits demonstrate a commitment to ethical practices and financial accountability, enhancing the organization's reputation and building trust with external parties. This approach also helps in staying compliant with local governance regulations, further bolstering the organization's credibility.

Ultimately, it’s about achieving business goals. The question is whether your T&E processes are getting in the way of that achievement, or if they’re driving it.

Streamlined T&E drives efficiency and accountability

We learned how boosting T&E processes leads to more efficiency and accountability; from less resources required to deal with requests thanks to efficient request handling, to more clarity and responsibility as a result of improved policy management.

The key is streamlining these elements, ideally with the aid of a technology-based solution.

PayEm is the partner you’re looking for when it comes to streamlining travel and entertainment processes.

From quick approvals to zero paperwork, customized approval flows, the removal of tools and barriers you don’t need, human-centered activities including mobile app-based requests and approvals, and automatic syncing with your accounting software – PayEm has it all, in one comprehensive solution.

To learn about how your company can shift T&E processes from burden to benefit, book a demo with a PayEm product expert today.

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