Your 2013 Guide to Travel and Expense Management. March 2013 Christopher J. Dwyer

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1 Your 2013 Guide to Travel and Expense Management March 2013 Christopher J. Dwyer

2 Your 2013 Guide to Travel and Expense Management The average organization relies on business travel to achieve business 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 2013, a factor that has forced many procurement, financial, and operations executives to reevaluate existing strategies for travel and expense management, overcome key challenges, and structure a robust program that balances core competencies and modern technology enablers. March 2013 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 Visibility: A Major Challenge Over the years, executives have faced myriad challenges in the greater spectrum of travel and expense management; the economic downturn of 2008 / 2009 caused restrictive reduced travel budgets, while other organizations focused on improving lagging processes for this critical function. When looking at the data culled from Aberdeen s 2013 Travel and Expense Management benchmark survey, we learn that the top challenge currently faced by organizations is poor visibility into business travel and travel and entertainment (T&E) spending, compliance, suppliers, and other key facets of this complex spend category (Figure 1). Figure 1: Top Travel and Expense Management Challenges 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 Visibility is often considered a cornerstone of a proper and effective spend management program. Transparency into suppliers, spending, travel frequency, and other key items within a travel and expense management program can help financial executives improve corporate forecasting and budgeting, while also building true intelligence to fuse into organizational planning. Since business travel and T&E encompasses a significant chunk of the corporate budget (10% or more), it is important for executives to understand how this spending affects the greater organization. With the notion of visibility in mind, the majority (53%) of organizations across the globe remain focused on improving the cycle of processes within expense management, including creation, submission, approval (and workflow), and ultimate reimbursement. In fact, the improvement of processes related to expense management was the top pressure or challenge in the 2012 edition of Aberdeen s annual travel and expense management research series. Figure 2: Top Areas of Focus for 2013 As we will note in the following section, expense management is often rife with inefficiencies for organizations on the lower end of Aberdeen s Best-in- Class Maturity Framework. By enhancing these processes (by following the path tread by top-performing companies), organizations can experience a plethora of benefits, including: Reduction of costs associated with processing expenses All-around faster reimbursement times (considering the time gained through a quick approval rate) Enhanced visibility into all facets of travel and expense management, including spending, suppliers, ramifications, frequency, etc.

4 Page 3 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. 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 90% rate of business travel spend under management 81% rate of compliance to corporate travel policies and guidelines 54% rate of business travel spend under management 68% rate of compliance to corporate travel policies and guidelines 43% rate of business travel spend under management 55% rate of compliance to corporate travel policies and guidelines Best-in-Class enterprises have driven a 44% higher rate of business travel spend under management than all other organizations, as well as a 26% higher rate of corporate policy compliance, according to Table 1. These top-performing organizations have also achieved a nearly 30% reduction in expense-processing costs (compared to All Others) and 34% faster expense approval time. Best-in-Class organizations have leveraged a multitude of program attributes, key capabilities, and technology enablers to drive this level of desirable performance. A View into the Best-in-Class Travel and Expense Management Program: Program Competencies and Reliance on Technology Solutions As detailed in the previous section, Best-in-Class organizations have driven a top-tier level of performance across a series of key metrics within the scope of modern travel and expense management. When looking behind the curtain and into these top-performers programs, two main items become 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

5 Page 4 clear: 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 3 (below), the most critical component of that framework (the internal competencies and capabilities), actively help Bestin-Class organizations solve their top challenge: driving visibility into all facets of travel and expense management. Figure 3: Core Competencies and Capabilities Visibility into aggregate T&E spending (in place in 41% more Best-in-Class organizations than All Others) and regular reporting on policy compliance, a capability in place in 41% more Best-in-Class organizations, are two capabilities that directly link to the two components of Aberdeen s Maturity Framework: high rates of both corporate travel policy compliance and business travel spend under management. The intelligence afforded by real-time visibility into travel spending against budget, a competency in place in 64% more Best-in-Class organizations than All Others, has been a crucial capability outlined in Aberdeen research over the past few years. With real-time visibility, executives can understand how the current travel budget sits against pre-planned trips; this intelligence can help these executives make decisions (Cancel a trip? Alter plans?) based on how planned travel sits against the overall corporate budget. In the years

6 Page 5 when companies faced restrictive budgets, this capability emerged as a critical factor in keeping travel a major strategy without wrecking finances. The Technology Factor Aberdeen has long linked the reliance on technology enablers to an uptick in efficiency and performance within the travel and expense stratosphere. As detailed in Figure 4 (below), Best-in-Class organizations actively leverage a series of key solutions in their pursuit of expense management excellence. Figure 4: Best-in-Class Technology Utilization Commercial card programs (utilized by 40% more Best-in-Class organizations than All Others) add an extra layer of both automation and control to travel spend management, while online travel-booking can solidify a link between travel management and expense management (while also providing superior visibility into how, why, and when employees travel). 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. Aberdeen s research has found that organizations reduce their expense-processing costs by nearly 60% by leveraging these solutions, as well as achieve a 40% higher rate of travel policy compliance and 35% higher rate of business travel spend under management. Best-in-Class organizations are 66% more likely than All Others to leverage this solution. Mobile: The Link to the Future Best-in-Class organizations are 60% more likely than All Others to leverage a mobile application for travel and expense management. These applications, which are also offered in mobile-optimized web portals, place the power of

7 Page 6 greater end-to-end technology directly into the hands of business travelers and executives, offering handheld access to core travel and expense processes, such as: Creating, entering, and submitting expenses Booking and altering travel plans (airfare, lodging, transportation, etc.) Making restaurant reservations Digitally-attaching receipts to expenses (users can snap images of receipts directly with their smartphones or tablets) Viewing and approving expenses (for executives) Access to real-time data regarding travel and expense spending and other types of intelligence Aberdeen research has found that users of mobile travel and expense management applications enjoy a prime benefit: employees that leverage these apps save over 4.5 hours per month in productivity time. The Value of Analytics The 2012 edition of Aberdeen s yearly state of travel and expense study described a series of pillars that Best-in-Class organizations relied upon to drive a superior level of performance. One such pillar, analytics and reporting, will help all organizations drive visibility into travel and expense management data, spending, suppliers, etc. Figure 5: Items Tracked or Monitored Via Analytics and Data Reporting As detailed in Figure 5 (above), Best-in-Class companies actively leverage analytics to gain intelligence into key components of travel and expense management, including:

8 Page 7 Real-time views of current travel against corporate budgets. As explained earlier in this study, any visibility into how real-time travel (and expenses) stack up against current budgets is crucial; appropriate action can be taken if an executive sees that planned travel will exceed the overall budget. ROI of business travel. Although this is an emerging analytical area, calculating the return-on-investment of business travel can go a long way in understanding how strategic this area of spend is across the entire organization. What s the ROI on sales trips for client outreach? What s the return on sending an entire division to an out-of-state training conference? Compliance! Yes, we know that compliance is always a worrisome area for any executive. It s important for organizations to leverage analytics to understand if business travelers are complying with policies, and if not, altering the behavior before it affects the budget. Integration: The Key to Expense Management Efficiency (and Visibility) Integration, much like analytics, is considered a pillar of travel and expense management success. However, the very notion of integration has evolved in recent years. As shown in Figure 6 (below), Best-in-Class organizations are integrating their travel and expense management systems with other solutions, some of which traverse beyond traditional notions. Figure 6: Systems Integrated with Expense Management Corporate card integration, which falls along the more classic lines of integration, creates a truly holistic process for expense management. This type of integration also affords executives a fantastic picture of how the

9 Page 8 company spends it dollars on business travel and expenses, and supports the greater notion of global supplier visibility. The next generation of integration is apparent in three distinct areas: CRM and expense management integration. This type of integration, in place in 50% more Best-in-Class companies than All Others, links two systems to support the idea of a social enterprise in which business travelers across all units and divisions are connected. In addition to this social presence, companies integrating these systems can link sales opportunities with specific travel and trips. In an age where visibility is a cornerstone, any intelligence into how sales and travel are linked is critical. ERP and expense management integration. The overarching pressure of visibility is felt across all phases of travel and expense management. ERP solutions are typically considered a system of record for all critical enterprise information. By integrating these two systems, executives are presented with real-time and robust data regarding travel spending. Best-in-Class companies are 18% more likely than All Others to leverage this type of integration. Events management and expense management integration. Meetings and events spending sits right alongside business travel in the budget scale; these are two sister functions and serve similar purposes. By integrating expense management with an events management platform (which 66% more Best-in-Class organizations have done), companies can leverage a full spectrum of automation for specific critical processes within the typical meetings management program, such as travel-booking and expense management. Key Takeaways Organizations should consider this research study their guide to travel and expense management for 2013 and beyond. The path tread by Best-in-Class organizations is one that must be followed for maximum success in managing the business travel and expense category. Nearly 75% of organizations in our research study stated that travel and expense management is either a critical component within their organizations (holding strategic value) or a focus for The following are several key takeaways from this research report: 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.

10 Page 9 Mobile applications and technology are considered a link to the future and will help both business travelers and executives enact key expense management processes via smartphones or tablet devices. Integration of key internal systems, including CRM, ERP, corporate card and events management, not only supports the greater good of driving visibility, but also has relative benefits for sales, finance, and marketing / events teams. Analytics is a prime means of enhancing travel and expense management visibility, gaining intelligence into the ROI of business travel, and understanding how this category affects greater business objectives. For more information on this or other research topics, please visit Managing the Evolution: Meetings Management for the SMB Organization; November 2012 End-to-End Technology and the T&E Lifecycle; November 2012 Related Research T&E Expense Management: A Solution Selection Guide; August 2012 T&E Expense Management: The Best-in- Class Pillars of Next-Generation Expense Management; March 2012 Author: Christopher J. Dwyer, Research Director, Global Supply Management and Financial 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 businesschanging 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. (2013a)

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