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Finance - are you checking your T&E blindspots?

We learn about blind spots when we first start driving, but it’s easy to forget to check them. It isn’t just driving where blind spots crop up. A recent survey of UK finance leaders revealed that 81% have got blind spots when it comes to their company’s travel, expense and invoice spend. Considering that a typical company spends over 10% of its annual budget on T&E alone, not having complete visibility has serious implications.

So, where might your blind spots be hiding?

You only see spend when it’s too late

When employees submit travel and expense claims retrospectively, you can’t predict company cash flow on a month-to-month basis and accrue accordingly. Without a way to track planned travel and bookings, you’re reliant on T&E data after the fact. Can you get ahead of the curve by effectively capturing travel bookings wherever they have been booked?

Your employees don’t always use your travel booking system

When you’ve got a corporate travel booking system, you get early visibility into the big T&E expenses. But what if your employees find it quicker, easier and more favourable to book using Trivago or Booking.com than using your own travel system? Around half of employees prefer to book independently, even when the company has an online booking tool (OBT). With a younger workforce joining every day, can you enable employees to book in the way they prefer AND see this data upfront?

You don’t know what you’re spending with your regular suppliers

When you’ve got good visibility of your travel spend, you can see at a glance what you’re spending with each supplier. It arms you with the facts you need to negotiate discounts and preferential rates to help you drive down costs. You may be spending a sizeable amount with supplier X, but because it’s booked through OBTs, search engines and other travel aggregators, travel management companies (TMCs), and even submitted as an invoice expense – can you see just how much you’re spending with them?

Not knowing the costs is just the start

And the blind spend continues... Over two thirds of finance leaders say they aren’t confident their employees comply with travel and expense policies. Whether it’s honest mistakes, a bit of ‘creative claiming’ hidden under mileage or an out-of-date T&E policy that’s impossible to stick to, having a process in place to review claims against a fair policy can help you get clarity.

What happens in an emergency?

Then there’s concern for employee safety. When you’ve got blind spots on travel and expense costs, you’ve also got blind spots when it comes to where your employees are when they’re travelling – a problem that’s reflected in the fact 77% of UK finance leaders said they weren’t confident their business could quickly and accurately locate business travellers in the event of an emergency. Duty of care is becoming increasingly important in the volatile world we live in and it’s just as important to small businesses as it is to corporates.

If those are the blind spots, where’s the solution?

The first step is to capture all employee travel information upfront. Tools like Concur TripLink make this easy by capturing data from flights, hotels, rail, car hire and more, no matter where they were booked. It gathers it into a single itinerary for travellers saving them time, and into one place for finance – giving visibility into spend and easy access to traveller information.

The second is connect and automate the travel and expense process. Tools such as Concur Expense mean that employees can take photos of receipts and upload them straight to expense claims using an app on their phone. It means they don’t have to keep track of receipts or faff about completing expense claims on their return. It also means you get visibility into what they’re spending much more quickly.

Take the first steps to managing all spending

Whether you track them or not, travel and expense have an impact on your bottom line. But by tracking them you know what that impact will be rather than having a nasty surprise at the end of the month. To look in more detail at where travel and expense costs can hide, this guide is a great place to start.

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