Current Trends in Electronic Expense Management (EEM) – Does Travel Management Fit In?

Since 1994, InterplX has worked hard to become established as a national leader in the Employee Expense Management (EEM) industry. Currently, we are the only company that offers the total employee expense management solution – from the receipt submission through expense audit, payment processing and expense reimbursement, archiving and discrepancy resolution. There are those in the industry who believe the next step is to add travel management as part of the process, but is this really the next big thing for the expense management industry?

The InterplX Solution
First let’s look at the state of the marketplace. Today’s organizations are demanding more than software. Easy documentation/receipt submission, expense report auditing with exception resolution and tracking, fast electronic reimbursements, data/document archive management and administrative services are among the services required from industry leaders such as InterplX. Interplx’s customers have come to rely on our mix of unique products and services tailored to meet their specific needs, in turn providing the most complete EEM solutions on the market. InterplX processes over 700,000 expense reports per year. The users turning in these expense reports have confidence that their expense management company will provide complete, efficient and accurate business processes and that they will quickly get paid for properly submitted expenses.

We all know that the users of today’s systems want fast and easy expense reporting. No one enjoys doing expense reporting, but at least we in the industry should be doing everything we can to make sure it is fast and easy. Recently, travel management is becoming a key player in the expense management arena. Why is this? Is this really the way to go? Travel management has been struggling with a changing role in Corporate America and a tough economic environment. As travel managers look for added ways to provide value, they are seeking to make the expense payment and settlement process an extension of the purchase process. One of our competitors is promoting this because they want to sell their booking tool as well as their expense tool. However, does the end user, the traveler, really benefit from this added step?

The Process
Let’s take a closer look at the process: First, only 40% of expense reports involve booked travel. The other 60% are typically local expenses such as mileage, local client entertainment, and other incidental expenses as part of doing the job. With respect to those that involve booked travel, there are primarily two types of reservations: (1) Purchases (i.e. airfare) and (2) Reservations (i.e. car and hotel).

Data on airfare purchases are already available via the corporate card feed – this is good data because it is accurate and represents an actual purchase with the amount spent. There is little information from the reservation systems that will help a user with their expense report that is not already there supplied by the corporate card feed. Reservation data however is neither complete nor accurate and is often subject to change. We all know that we often change our reservations due to itinerary changes or for other unforeseen reasons. In fact, reservation data changes on average 30% of the time. It is also incomplete, lacking actual dollars, additional items such as meal charges, gas charges, taxes and the like. So this adds another layer of complexity for the traveler to reconcile in his/her expense reporting. Instead of fast and easy expense reporting, travelers will spend extra time reconciling travel reservations against money actually spent. Ultimately, the end-user, the traveler, is not served by this process; it only adds work. And corporate card data contains actual dollars spent. It is an after-the-fact process, so it is based on what actually happened and what is actually being billed. This is of value to the user and enhances the process of expense reporting.

Fast and easy are the key success factors to the employee expense management industry. An added layer of complexity is neither. If you wish to discuss this further, request more information from your InterplX account manager or drop a note to [email protected]

Next Issue
There is a place for integrating the expense reporting system with the booking system, but it may not be where you think. InterplX will explain. Don’t miss it!

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