Insights & Trends
Bridging The Gap Between Travel and Expense Management

Bridging The Gap Between Travel and Expense Management

Alex Roha

2 Sep 2022
6 minute read

Amid the technology boom of the past several decades, a chasm developed between travel management companies and expense management processes. It’s resulted in manual, disjointed actions for tasks like reconciliation that costs companies both money and time.

Here are just a couple of the effects: On average, it takes 6.4 days for finance leaders to close the books at the end of the month, and there is a one in five chance expense reports will contain errors or missing information. On top of that, employees can wait anywhere from five to 20 days for reimbursements to hit their accounts.

What’s the answer? Rather than look for another piece of tech to fill any missing gaps, companies need to adopt modern solutions. Below is a breakdown of legacy processes—and how today's technology is stepping in to fix what’s broken.

Key Challenges In Disparate T&E Solutions

The market is ripe with solutions that solve one problem here or there but frequently don't support integrations with one another. One solution will help with, say, booking business flights, but some expense management software won’t see or understand the ramifications of that flight for weeks or even months.

Uncoordinated legacy technology can result in poor compliance, out-of-policy spending, and time-consuming procedures for reconciliation, reimbursements, and expense reports. If you identify with any of the below problems, it may be time to switch to a more synergistic solution:

  • Employees have to front personal dollars for business expenses, manually enter these transactions into limited accounting software, and then wait for an extended period to get reimbursed.
  • Managers have to approve employee expenses even when they don't have full context and can't always certify the legitimacy of those expenses.
  • Employees are at risk of policy violations when expensing because of undefined rules and a lack of automated controls.
  • Accounting teams must waste time on manual processes and chasing down information and receipts; only weeks later can they finalize expense tracking.
  • Finance teams fly blind until employees submit expenses via tedious expense reports, sometimes up to six months late, so there’s a lack of control or real-time visibility into spend.

Connecting Travel and Expense Management

There's reason to believe that any company still facing the above issues would quickly jump ship to a more adaptable solution. Navan has witnessed thousands of customers make the switch, but hesitation still leaves gaps in the market.

Where does that hesitation come from? Companies may fear moving away from processes that have always been performed a certain way—even though it slows them down.

Overcoming that fear begins with a mental shift, as finance teams learn the automation that can eliminate cumbersome, manual workflows. This is followed by a moment of revelation when teams understand they can distribute corporate cards to their entire company and also maintain control over every transaction.

Your company may be looking for a new solution or just perusing the benefits of an all-in-one travel and expense management process. Either way, below is a breakdown of the benefits you’ll get when travel, expense, and corporate cards are combined.

Faster insights and greater agility

Transparency should always be the end game in spend analysis and visibility. When companies access real-time spend analytics, they can engage in more accurate financial planning, budgeting, and forecasting.

By connecting travel and expense solutions, admins and users also gain accurate policy improvement opportunities for enterprise resource planning (ERP), because the data is immediately in the hands of finance teams. A solution easily tailored to distinct data entry points means financial leaders can customize their analyses across staff, departments, and individual teams.

The ability to make intelligent decisions faster—while streamlining processes—will likely lead to greater success in reaching business targets and operational improvements, while leaving sufficient audit trails for expense credibility.

Increased compliance

Implementing digital payments or passing out corporate credit cards without controls can lead to overspending, because of the simple convenience of the payment method. Plus, confusion can arise around appropriate limits when spending happens in different currencies, environments, or with various teams.

To alleviate these pains, the automation behind built-in spend controls can enable transactions to be approved, flagged as out of policy, or declined in real-time at the point of purchase. And with policies in place, users don't have to worry about stepping out of compliance while on the road.

Increased compliance can also improve companies' duty of care. When more employees are tuned into the solution, there is more significant space for real-time traveler monitoring and relevant notifications when employees are on the road.

Customizable and automated controls

Odds are, not every employee needs access to the same funds, and some solutions enable travel and expense policy controls. With a custom policy builder, admins can tailor these spend parameters based on role, expense category, business context, or other dimensions.

Finance leaders can remove employee cash flow burdens when travel and spend management is connected to a corporate card solution. Passing out personal cards doesn't mean passing out unlimited freedom. Companies can set limits on employee spend amounts, purposes, frequency, and dates, even for specific merchants—allowing the card to do the work of maintaining policy controls while also preventing employee fraud.

And by benchmarking these spend controls, admins can streamline the approval process and workflows. Employees are empowered to make business expenses, and finance leaders maintain control in a less time-consuming manner.

Streamlined reimbursements and reconciliation

Slow processes, agonizing turnaround times, and unexpected out-of-pocket payments do not provide a good employee experience when it comes time for employee reimbursements. Gone are the days of connecting line items between purchases submitted in an expense report and crumpled receipts hastily stapled together.

By establishing clear per diems and trip parameters, employees aren't wondering what they can reasonably spend company funds on. Plus, the systems are automatically set up to receive expense reimbursements if a transaction requires a receipt.

Modern solutions can capture and code transaction details for immediate reimbursement. Some technology allows employees to receive this money through direct deposit by securely connecting the solution to their bank account.

Global scalability

Technology has brought astonishing global progress in the spend management space. Regulatory and cultural considerations are often different in each country, which has made the evolution of payment and expense solutions particularly challenging.

Whether a small business, startup, or major enterprise, business needs will grow and change as the company expands to new regions and markets.

Some solutions will offer deeper lifecycle intricacies, like handling VAT (value-added tax), right from the traveler's mobile device. Some also offer technology that emphasizes OCR (optical character recognition) scanning, so no matter where users are in the world, the solution can read and understand receipts. Some solutions may even eliminate foreign transaction fees.

Creating the connection in T&E

Having the right spend management solution prevents unnecessary costs and cushions your business against diminishing margins. For growing businesses, it’s crucial to find a software solution that is intuitive and quick to integrate, all while being affordable.

Luckily, Navan Expense is the answer to all these questions.

Navan Expense gives finance teams ultimate spend control to drive savings, productivity, and compliance. With Navan Expense's spend management solution, admins can implement proactive policies programmatically built into smart cards to automate expense management, from swipe to reconciliation. Interactive dashboards provide real-time transaction visibility for more informed decision-making - all on a growing international scale.

Ready to streamline company spending and implement an all-in-one travel and expense management solution? Schedule a demo to see how our spend solutions work, or get up and running with Navan in just 5 minutes.

Return to blog

More content you might like