Your travel programme isn’t what it was a year ago. Nobody’s is, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is leaving it as it is and hoping things will be fine when we take to the roads, rails, and skies again.
Sure, you’ve got other fish to fry right now – big ones – it’s just that addressing travel and expense management now, when you’re not sending out thousands of travellers each week, gives you a chance to fix the machinery before things gear up again.
So what should you be looking for in regard to travel and expense management software? IDC has a pretty good idea.
“Enterprises need to leverage advanced technologies to augment their capabilities for streamlining approvals, combating fraud, and maintaining compliance,” says Kevin Permenter, IDC research manager. “Many of these technologies have taken large leaps forward in terms of usability and accuracy in the last 12 months.”
He adds, however, that the market has a strong desire for even more innovation and that travel and expense software vendors need to fill that demand. The IDC report offers advice as to what tech companies can do to meet those consumer needs – and what you should expect of them.
As you examine your solution and/or potential solution providers, look for tools that:
1. Prioritise the user experience. Making the tool easy to use is going to be the easiest way for travel and expense software vendors to differentiate their wares. It will also be the best way for you to ensure adoption; if it makes travel easier and more enjoyable, your travellers will use it. And you’ll capture their bookings, itineraries, and spending.
2. Create intelligent workflows. Intelligent workflows save time, increase efficiency and, more importantly, add a layer of big-data analysis that human beings simply cannot duplicate. Applications that bring intelligent workflows to travel booking, itinerary management, approvals, and receipt processing are going to stand out. And that’s what you’ll want to find.
3. Enhance analytics capabilities. Business intelligence and analytics improve visibility into employee travel and spending patterns, and they also give you a good look at employee travel management. With this kind of visibility, you can build more detailed budgets and accurately forecast spending.
4. Integrate digital payments. Much to travellers’ delight, the travel and expense market is moving away from paper-based payments and processes. So instead of saving receipts and reeling over expense reports, they use an app to track spending and submit the transactions automatically. This saves them time and gives you better data. And that’s where travel is headed.
5. Add more risk management. The dangers of business travel have never been more apparent, but now you can do more than ever to keep your travellers safe. Look for applications that help you pinpoint your business travellers in real time by connecting itinerary details and corporate card charges. Your solution should also provide neighborhood safety scores and security alerts, so travellers know where to stay and what to avoid.
6. Focus on fraud management. Everyone, from finance leaders to travel managers, is fighting to reduce rogue spending and other fraudulent activity, and many travel and expense software vendors are following suit – enhancing current capabilities and launching individual products to help in the fight.
7. Emphasise the ecosystem. For your travel management programme to be most effective, it needs to work well with back-end systems, like accounts payable, CRM, and ERP. This connection keeps the data flowing back and forth freely, so you get the real-time data needed to make instant, intelligent decisions. Make sure your solution has this connection capability.
The IDC Worldwide Travel and Expense Management Software Market Shares, 2019 report also outlines how software companies are handling these demands, as well as who’s in the lead. It’s good information for any company looking to make travel and expense management work for them.