The Travel and Expense Management Guide for 2014

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1 The Travel and Expense Management Guide for 2014 Trends for the Future March 2014 Louis Berard

2 The Travel and Expense Management Guide for 2014: Trends for the Future In December 2013 and January 2014, Aberdeen conducted a series of surveys focused on Travel and Expense Management (T&E) for Organizations today have a lot to think about such as economic challenges, productivity concerns, and technology advancement that will support a strong ROI. Aberdeen has reported in the past that the average organization relies on business travel to achieve certain objectives, whether it is client outreach, business development, or for internal purposes. In fact, the typical company will spend 10% (or more) of its total annual budget on expenses related to business travel in 2014, a factor that has not changed dramatically over the past few years. Organizations today must reevaluate existing strategies for travel and expense management, how to overcome key challenges, and structure a robust program that balances core competencies and modern technology enablers. Much like top executive jobs are too large for one person, the challenges are too big for one paper. So we re splitting the trials and tribulations into a series. This installment will focus on the general business trends we see in the environment and the economic challenges organizations face today. March 2014 Analyst Insight Aberdeen s Insights provide the analyst s perspective on the research as drawn from an aggregated view of research surveys, interviews, and data analysis. The Value of T&E 2014 Travel and Expense Management cannot be pushed to the side. Organizations require greater business intelligence and visibility into their T&E in order to remain competitive while also understanding risk and the ability to mitigate risk with greater knowledge gained through technology and collaboration than ever before. In our recent T&E survey, Aberdeen asked the question: How does T&E expense management fit into your organization s 2014 corporate strategy? In Figure 1(below) our survey research shows that 43% of Best-in-Class organizations consider T&E expense management a critical strategy for 2014 (please view the Aberdeen Methodology sidebar on page 2 for definitions and a breakdown of this study s maturity class). This document is the result of primary research performed by Aberdeen Group. Aberdeen Group's methodologies provide for objective fact-based research and represent the best analysis available at the time of publication. Unless otherwise noted, the entire contents of this publication are copyrighted by Aberdeen Group, Inc. and may not be reproduced, distributed, archived, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent by Aberdeen Group, Inc.

3 Page 2 Figure 1: Organizations that Consider T&E a Critical Strategy Critical Improvements for 2014 Best-in-Class organizations recognize the importance of T&E as a key strategy to be utilized and leveraged across their organization, but the question begs to be asked, what are the improvements that these organizations look at? In Figure 2 below, the first large area of improvement for 2014 and beyond will be in mobility with the Best-in-Class three times more likely than the Industry Average to focus on mobile; even our Laggards have a leg up on this one. Simply because your organization may fall in the Laggard category at times, mobility is the equalizer for many organizations. The ease, flexibility, cost, and high acceptance rate makes it a winner for those organizations looking to gain an advantage in today s market space. Aberdeen Methodology The Aberdeen maturity class is comprised of three groups of survey respondents. Classified by their self-reported performance across several key metrics, each respondent falls into one of three categories: Best-in-Class: Top 20% of respondents based on performance. Industry Average: Middle 50% of respondents based on performance. Laggard: Bottom 30% of respondents based on performance. There is also sometimes a fourth category: All Others: Industry Average and Laggard combined. The next areas we see for Best-in-Class organizations are analytics and business intelligence. These two categories have shown steady growth for the past few years, so this isn t out of the ordinary. Simply put, organizations need to understand how their business performs; the best way to drive this intelligence is with analytics and business intelligence. Another way to view this is that analytics is the oil in the engine; you keep it well-oiled and maintained, then you will have a high-performing engine running at peak levels. If you choose to miss those oil changes and maintenance plan, than you don t know what to expect except trouble. Figure 2 also shows growth for both the Average and Laggard organizations in the need to grow their expense management processes. We can see that this is not something that these organizations take lightly and is now a critical area of improvement with these organizations, while continuing to be an area of critical growth for Best-in-Class organizations.

4 Page 3 Figure 2: Critical Improvement in 2014 Under Pressure: Pressures Figure 3 (below) shows that the top two key pressures facing organizations today toot the same horn as previous years with one exception. Organizations are expected to reduce expense in processing costs. In our survey this shows a separation of 17% based on 126 respondents. Obviously the leading pressure, but why after reporting on this from previous years? We will dive deeper into how these pressures have crested the surface, from technology, to visibility, and where have the best financial gains been found in our future series. In previous years, Aberdeen has written about how to reduce reimbursement times. Yes technology plays a wonderful part of this, but it also comes down to cultural change and acceptance. Unfortunately if you implement all of the greatest technologies out there but it comes back to a paper system and little trust in your cutting edge technology, then why bother? Take the money and invest it in a savings bond. Technology that exists today allows for fragmented, legacy, weak and old systems to take on a new life. These new advancements now provide everything that is known from the past and placed in a new advanced engine for the future, with the ease and functionality of a finger swish. We also found in our survey that organizations still struggle with manual and paper-based processes. The elimination of these processes allows you to increase your savings, reduce processing costs and improve your sustainability. What was interesting from this finding is that 126 senior level respondents believe or felt that the Lack of business traveler productivity was a key pressure. This shows a 3% separation between the Best-in-Class and All Others. But what does that really say about our business environment? This anomaly will be fleshed out further in our series on T&E. But one thing to consider is why now are senior executives looking at this pressure? Have they gained true visibility into their traveler? Is it just another business metric on belt tightening, and quantifying your travel? Or is it that the amount of productivity doesn t properly equate to the output while on

5 Page 4 travel? We look forward to exploring this in greater depth in the near future. Figure 3: Business Pressures for T&E Management Batten Down the Hatches: Strategic Actions It s interesting learning from the above findings how senior executives feel that, besides the cost savings, they need to look at the traveler s productivity, as key pressures for What then are the key actions organizations take to reduce these pain points? First we see in Figure 4 (next page), that executives want to arm their employees with better technologies to manage this minefield of expense management, policies and procedures. Aberdeen s research has found that organizations that leverage analytics outperform those organizations that do not. With an 11% separation between the Best-in-Class and All Others, we see this consistent trend occurring across industries. The ability to make fact-based decisions in a timely and efficient manner is no longer a nicety, but a requirement. Organizations look at real-time data streams and expect their people in the field to be as well connected as those inside the facility. The excuse of they re not available to access that, is no longer acceptable. Now it s chic to be there, be live, and have real answers, wherever you are. One could argue that not automating key components of T&E expense management could mean your organization gets left behind. Delivering on customer value and employee satisfaction has always been a winning combination. One way businesses go about it today is by proving these efficiencies to their employees and driving greater customer satisfaction through the use of technology. A great example of this is when a sales person can go to the customer and think about their needs, requirements, what is the best fit and function for this customer? And not need to think

6 Page 5 about the daunting task of filling out travel reports or if they are in policy or not. Their focus is simply the customer, which is a clear win-win. Figure 4: Strategic Actions R-U Capable? Looking across the capabilities of organizations today, Aberdeen s 2014 survey data recognizes the importance of speed and agility. People and organizations want to do more with less. Less money being spent, less time away from the office and loved ones, but what they ultimately end up looking at is how to gain that insight into tomorrow. As noted above, Best-in-Class organizations have driven top level performance across a series of key metrics within the scope of modern travel and expense management. When looking into the crystal ball and into these top-performing programs, two main items jump out: Best-in- Class companies actively enhance competencies to drive visibility into the travel and expense category, and utilize a series of technology solutions to support their main objectives. Aberdeen s PACE Framework, which details the pressures inherent within an enterprise function, the strategic actions taken to alleviate those pressures, the program capabilities to support overall objectives, and the various technology enablers that ultimately enhance all processes and drive performance, is often utilized as a charter for gauging the effectiveness of existing travel and expense management processes. As detailed in Figure 5 below, the most critical component of that framework (the internal competencies and capabilities), actively help Best-

7 Page 6 in-class organizations solve their top challenge: driving visibility into all facets of travel and expense management. Figure 5: Capabilities Currently Implemented Enable Your Enablers By enabling your enablers to do what they re designed to do, organizations can create integration across practices and a true holistic expense management process. This type of integration also affords executives a fantastic picture of how the company spends its dollars on business travel and expenses, along with greater visibility into the global supplier. The next generation of integration is apparent in four distinct areas: On-line travel booking systems. Real-time views of current travel against corporate budgets. Visibility into how real-time travel (and expenses) stacks up against current budgets is crucial; appropriate action can be taken by real-time reporting against overall budget. With on-line booking, spend is captured quicker and in compliance to policies. Commercial card system/programs. Corporate card integration creates a truly holistic process for expense management. This type of integration also affords executives a fantastic picture of how the company spends its dollars on business travel and expenses, and supports the greater notion of visibility. Mobile T&E and expense management applications. Best-in-Class organizations outperform those who don t leverage mobile applications for travel and expense management. These applications, which are also offered in mobile-optimized web portals, place the

8 Page 7 power of greater end-to-end technology directly into the hands of business travelers and executives, offering handheld access to core travel and expense processes. End-to-end expense management solutions. End-to-end travel and expense management solutions offer a robust platform that can help organizations streamline, automate and enhance all aspects of modern travel and expense management, addressing all components of the T&E lifecycle and automating key expense management processes. Figure 6: Enablers Currently Implemented The Best-in-Class Maturity Framework Aberdeen utilizes its Best-in-Class maturity framework to segregate all enduser survey responses into three unique buckets based on performance against a series of key metrics and indicators. This framework, detailed in Table 1, allows Aberdeen s readers to formulate a proper plan for development and improvement based on their own performance as compared to that of the Best-in-Class maturity sector. Top-performing enterprises in this research study were noted for their superior performance across a series of key metrics under the greater travel and expense management umbrella. Best-in-Class enterprises have driven a 74% higher rate of business travel spend under management than all other organizations, as well as a 55% higher rate of corporate policy compliance, according to Table 1. These top-performing organizations have also achieved a nearly 26% reduction compared to All Others in travel expense on or below budget. And 22% of Definition: Business Travel Spend Under Management Business travel spend under management is defined as the percentage of planned travel spend that is actively managed and accounted for in corporate budgeting, planning, or forecasting

9 Page 8 the Best-in-Class manage expenses by mobile compared to All Others for faster approval times. The Best-in-Class continue to leverage myriad programs, key capabilities and technology enablers to drive this level of performance. Table 1: The Best-in-Class Maturity Framework Definition of Maturity Class Best-in-Class: Top 20% of aggregate performance scorers Industry Average: Middle 50% of aggregate performance scorers Laggard: Bottom 30% of aggregate performance scorers Mean Class Performance 89% rate of business travel spend under management 91% rate of compliance to corporate travel policies and guidelines 53% rate of business travel spend under management 71% rate of compliance to corporate travel policies and guidelines 15% rate of business travel spend under management 36% rate of compliance to corporate travel policies and guidelines Key Takeaways Organizations should consider this research study their guide to travel and expense management for The path navigated by Best-in-Class organizations is one that must be followed for maximum success in managing the business travel and expense category. Forty-three percent (43%) of organizations in our research study stated that travel and expense management is a critical component within their organizations (holding strategic value) for With visibility into the spend aggregate across the enterprise by 79% of some 126 respondents. To keep T&E in check, consider the following: Visibility is a prime concern for the majority of organizations in regards to travel and expense management. Every programmatic change or strategy must be executed with visibility in mind. Best-in-Class organizations rely on both internal attributes or capabilities and a slew of technology solutions to enhance spend control and improve corporate policy compliance. Mobile applications and technology are considered a link to the future and will help business travelers and executives enact key expense management processes via smartphones or tablet devices. Analytics is a prime means of enhancing travel and expense management visibility, gaining intelligence into the ROI of business

10 Page 9 travel, and understanding how this category affects greater business objectives. Growth is projected in 2014, the question you and your organization need to ask is: Will we be part of it, and how? For more information on this or other research topics, please visit End-to-End Visibility into T&E Expense Management: Mobile Comes to the Table; April 2013 Your Guide to Travel and Expense Management; March 2013 Managing the Evolution: Meetings Management for the SMB Organization; November 2012 Related Research End-to-End Technology and the T&E Lifecycle; November 2012 T&E Expense Management: A Solution Selection Guide; September 2012 T&E Expense Management: The Best-in- Class Pillars of Next-Generation Expense Management; March 2012 Author: Louis Berard, Senior Research Analyst, Global Supply Management For more than two decades, Aberdeen s research has been helping corporations worldwide become Best-in-Class. Having benchmarked the performance of more than 644,000 companies, Aberdeen is uniquely positioned to provide organizations with the facts that matter the facts that enable companies to get ahead and drive results. That s why our research is relied on by more than 2.5 million readers in over 40 countries, 90% of the Fortune 1,000, and 93% of the Technology 500. As a Harte Hanks Company, Aberdeen s research provides insight and analysis to the Harte Hanks community of local, regional, national and international marketing executives. Combined, we help our customers leverage the power of insight to deliver innovative multichannel marketing programs that drive business-changing results. For additional information, visit Aberdeen or call (617) , or to learn more about Harte Hanks, call (800) or go to This document is the result of primary research performed by Aberdeen Group. Aberdeen Group s methodologies provide for objective fact-based research and represent the best analysis available at the time of publication. Unless otherwise noted, the entire contents of this publication are copyrighted by Aberdeen Group, Inc. and may not be reproduced, distributed, archived, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent by Aberdeen Group, Inc. (2014a)

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