Travel expense management is a field in which regulations, people and technology converge. Striking a balance between these factors is the key to achieving an efficient process that benefits all of the parties involved.
Technology sets the foundations that underpin the process, while the company’s regulations and policies establish the framework of operation. However, it is the people, the company’s employees that will make the difference between success and failure when creating an efficient process. The company culture must be fully aligned with the expense policy and bring it into line with the technological infrastructure.
The first step towards aligning the company culture with the expense policy is understanding the current situation. A good starting point is to ask yourself some questions directly related to the human factor of business travel and the company culture, with the conclusions that can be drawn from the response. Are the employees who travel often motivated? Do they feel under control? What are the trips they take actually like? Does the company pay a fair rate for the miles travelled? Do employees feel that they are treated fairly with respect to their superiors? This subjective perspective is required in order to interpret the figures and indices that result from the expense management process.
The next step is to review the figures and the KPIs that the company currently uses in order to supervise the expense management process. The factors include the fraud index, the amount reached, average spending per employee, average length of a journey, etc.
By combining these two perspectives, companies have access to indicators that reveal whether or not the company culture, policy and use of technology are all aligned. Continuing along the same lines, we may reach the conclusion that there is a high fraud index because the employees believe that the rate that the company pays for mileage is not fair, or that breaching the expense policy is simply a consequence of a lack of awareness of its terms. When the expense policy stipulates a regulation that, for all practical purposes, is not being complied with, it means there is a problem.
Once we have a clear understanding of the current company culture, the necessary measures can be taken to incentivize changes that bring it into line with the expense policy. There are several different strategies for doing this: creating a programme that incentivizes retention and compliance with respect to the policy, establishing automatic verification mechanisms that reinforce the feeling of expense supervision by the company, improving employee training so that the objectives of the policy are conveyed more effectively and what this means to the company in financial terms, etc. Putting these corrective mechanisms in place will lead to progress in terms of adjusting the company culture with the expense policy, thereby achieving greater supervision and savings in expense management.