Travel and Expense (T&E) has been a neglected area in some organizations, even though it can represent a major cost center tied to multiple parts of an enterprise. The benefits of T&E transformation can be significant, offering an opportunity to intelligently manage spend now and into the post-COVID world
Travel and Expense (T&E) has been a neglected area in some organizations, even though it can represent a major cost center tied to multiple parts of an enterprise. The benefits of T&E transformation can be significant, offering an opportunity to intelligently manage spend now and into the post-COVID world.
Three Deloitte transformation specialists discuss how businesses can activate ‘built to evolve’ T&E capabilities while tearing down information silos, building flexibility into sourcing, and redefining processes.
As Oren Geshuri, a specialist master, Deloitte Consulting LLP, sees it, travel managers are unsung superstars of organizations. They manage the second biggest spend after payroll, secure competitive pricing, and have a high duty of care to colleagues moving about in the world. Yet, disproportionately less attention is paid to the function and the rich stores of data it generates.
But all that changes when it comes to cost-cutting, and often, not for the better. “T and E just sits where it is until times of adversity. That’s when unilateral decisions are made without actually digging into the data to see if this is where cuts should happen.”
Travel and Expense solutions can help companies be more strategic about where they spend. This will be especially true when the world emerges from COVID-19 restrictions. David Griswold, a specialist leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP, points out how organizations have been given a unique opportunity in 2020: nine to 12 months of near-zero travel expenditures and the corresponding revenues for comparison. Having the right solution at hand, one that can mine the rich data stores, will pay off in recovery: “When things do fully open up, companies can be a lot smarter about where to spend those funds and invest that money.”
Too often, travel and expense are lumped together and considered one area, but the reality is they are distinct. Travel is very much about procurement, operations, logistics; expenses are on the radar of finance and audit teams. Different stakeholders, different purviews, different interests and measurables. “An intelligent organization doesn’t pit the two [areas] against each other,” says Isaac Bowman, a senior manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “Instead, it will try to bring all the groups and business processes together.”
That includes the technology, he offers, which will give all interested stakeholders the same data for decision-making. The right technology will accommodate myriad data inflow points, help global companies contend with regional regulations, and create a positive user experience. The point being: the right solution will have the capacity to take in different viewpoints, interests and needs.
Rounding out the discussion on competing interests, Geshuri points out that in a COVID-19 world, the voice of risk management, normally on the fringes, just took center stage and got considerably louder. “Everyone has a valuable voice, with valid points to make. The solution needs to bridge all of those different opinions.”
The adage tells us that hard things come before good things. When embarking on a travel and expense transformation, project leaders should first do the hard work of uncovering processes, needs and stakeholders. “Put pencil to paper,” says Griswold, “and draw out process maps. Let the process drive what you need in technology and set a global standard.”
The investment made in developing the best comprehensive processes and identifying the stakeholders makes for a much smoother execution, and will drive value into the business. Griswold offers, “There is a lot of opportunity to save time costs with submission and processing, plus big gain potential on the backend by making it much easier to interpret and analyze data.”
Leaders who moved through a travel and expense transformation before COVID will accelerate out of the pandemic, leapfrogging the competition.
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T and E just sits where it is until times of adversity. That’s when unilateral decisions are made without actually digging into the data to see if this is where cuts should happen