When employees are away on business, there are always obvious, foreseeable expenses. These include transport — air, train or car — and accommodation. But there's a whole range of smaller, additional expenses that go into the mix. Better management of these means both time and money can be saved. To achieve this, several tools for businesses have been developed over the last decade and there's a growing trend towards comprehensive solutions for expense management.
Recognising and gauging additional expenses
These additional expenses might include business lunches, the cost of phone calls, taxi fares and plenty more besides. Depending on the company, these costs may be minor but they can become extremely costly, especially when businesses operate internationally.
The internationalisation of trade
Like major groups, SMBs are adapting to the internationalisation of trade. Their executives are travelling more and more to track down new opportunities, as well as to generate customer loyalty. Frequent travel is forcing businesses to streamline the inevitable expenses, especially as employees are increasingly encouraged to use additional chargeable services.
The increase in services offered to business travellers
Additional expenses have increased in recent years. For example, employees often use chargeable Wi-Fi hotspots and when travelling by air, they now have the opportunity to subscribe to a chargeable internet connection.
The cost of processing additional expenses
All these additional expenses can't be separated from a business's other economic activity. They keep increasing, and so an appropriate and efficient management system has never been more necessary. Many businesses choose to process expense data using Excel spreadsheets, but this approach costs businesses a great deal of time and money.
Fortunately, management solutions for these expenses are not only widely available, they're also easy to implement and increasingly tailored to SMBs.
Best expense-management solutions
The number of tools available has increased in recent years, offering several intuitive IT solutions which let you consolidate all expenses incurred by employees. Some even offer expense prediction. This makes things far clearer for the business as all expenses, both small and sizeable, are kept in one place.
To make sure all employees use these tools as standard, the software has to be convenient and make lives easier all round. Employees should be trained in using them before heading off on a trip. Most solutions come with smartphone apps for total convenience on the go.
A few examples
For business meals, Business Table lets you consolidate bookings, orders, and invoices in one place. For hotel or flight reservations, employees can now use online self-booking tools (OBT or SBT). Amadeus, KDS, and Sabre are good examples.
KDS - and its tool NEO - predicts additional expenses based on the trip scheduled. This means that the company can use predictions to compare expenses incurred by employees. Thanks to these tools, businesses can give employees the opportunity to choose from a number of service providers which suit its policies.
A trend towards comprehensive solutions
Comprehensive management tools include the largest possible number of services in one place. For example, the Concur Travel & Expense solution and its Expense Pay service lets you make and modify reservations online, and keeps copies of receipts.
All data is then converted into an expense report. This means that deadlines for employee reimbursement are reduced by automating expenses and card payment costs, and employees are kept informed at each stage of the reimbursement process.
All these new solutions save businesses both time and money. Plus they allow businesses to better manage additional expenses, leaving room for them to focus on their international growth strategy.