Many companies still handle their expense management manually. A great way to increase efficiency is to automate the process. But there is yet another important, easily forgotten, key to success. Motivation.
Not a day passes without somebody mentioning how digitalisation is making an entrance, affecting organisations as well as your life – at work and at home. An early bird industry when it came to the big shift was the travel industry. But what happened to the follow up?
Just consider how quick and easy it is to book a trip or a hotel nowadays with your smartphone, wherever you are, as long as you have access to the internet.
Perhaps you feel the urge on a Thursday evening, to go to London over the weekend, and find a flight that fits right into your plans via your computer. You look up a hotel on your phone as soon as you land, and book it through one of the booking sites. You pay contactless for the Underground, and the cab fare home from the pub is taken care of with ApplePay or your digital wallet.
The travel industry has been going through the process of digitalisation for two decades already, while other industries may not even have gotten started yet. The irony of it all, is that most travel expenses are still managed the same way they always were – manually.
In a report conducted by Eurocard in collaboration with The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, it is clear that many companies in the Nordic region still use manual systems to handle employee expenses such as trips, accomodation, taxi and representation.
The reason these companies still use inefficient processes for expense management, failing to optimise their resources, is because they hardly have any business trips. Travel expenses are a such a small part of total costs, that the question of cost efficiency is hardly ever raised. And if it should be at some point, it is just as quickly shot down, since management thinks investing in an automated process won´t pay off. This can for example be the case for companies in manufacturing, and in the engineering industry, where provision takes place in a limited local market.
Among companies with more employees, like in the service sector and public service, were travel expenses are a big part, the attitude is hopefully quite another. But in this case the authors of the report point to another pit fall: lack of motivation among employees and management to follow up on routines that have once been set. This can have negative consequences on efficiency.
So even if companies have automated systems for expense management, it doesn’t necessarily mean that control and follow up on employee business travels are working as they should. And now we are touching the subject of company culture.