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    18 Expense Management Strategies For CFO’s To Reduce Travel And Entertainment Expenses

    expense management strategy

    by ProcureDeskLast Updated : Jan-17-2024

    Dealing with travel and entertainment expenses for your company?

    We get it, it can be a bit of a headache. But don’t worry, we’re here to help.

    In this blog, we’ve got 18 tips to make managing those expenses a whole lot easier for you. We know how important it is to keep your company’s finances in check, and we’ve got some practical expense management strategies to share.

    If you’re looking for a smart solution to help you automate this process, you might want to explore our tool ProcureDesk. Our team of experts can walk you through how it works. Click here to see it in action

    What Is Expense Management Strategy?

    Expense management strategy refers to a set of planned and systematic approaches your organization adopts to control, monitor, and optimize spending.

    The primary goal of your expense management strategy is to make sure that:

    • Your company’s financial resources are utilized efficiently
    • Your costs are kept within reasonable limits

    Here are the key components of an expense management strategy:

    • Budgeting and Planning: Establishing clear budgets for various departments and projects, outlining allowable expenses, and planning for future financial needs.
    • Policy Development: Creating and enforcing policies that define acceptable spending behaviors, expense approval processes, and guidelines for reimbursement.
    • Technology Integration: Leveraging technology tools and software for efficient tracking, reporting, and analysis of expenses.
    • Cost Controls: Implementing measures to control costs without compromising productivity or quality.
    • Regular Audits and Reviews: Conducting regular reviews and audits of financial records to identify any irregularities and ensure proper compliance.
    • Employee Training: Training employees on expense policies and procedures to promote compliance and responsible spending.
    • Strategic Sourcing: Evaluating and optimizing the sourcing of goods and services to achieve cost savings and efficiency gains.
    • Data Analysis: Utilizing data analytics to identify patterns, trends, and areas for improvement in the company’s spending habits.

    Why Is An Expense Management Strategy Important?

    T&E (Travel and entertainment) expenses is often a big line item after labor and benefits expenses. A JP Morgan study puts the expenses as high as 12% of the annual sales. On average, your Travel and Entertainment expenses could be around 10% of your revenue.

    Related: Corporate Travel And Expense (T&E) Policy Best Practices [Complete Guide]

    Now if you are a small company, this might not be enticing, but let’s look at some potential cases with certain revenue ranges

    Expenses and revenue

    As you see above, if you are in the $50M annual revenue range, even at 2 %, the expenses are around $1M.

    When it comes to reducing cost and increasing EBITDA (Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization), these expenses could be a good target if you understand the major categories of spend and have a cost reduction strategy around it.

    No matter the total expense spend, Expense management is also important from a fraud prevention perspective. If you don’t have corporate cards, the chance of fraud increases because of fraudulent receipts.

    On a general note, here are other reasons why it’s crucial for your company to manage your expenses:

    • Cost Control: It allows your organization to control costs by setting clear guidelines, budgets, and policies to prevent overspending.
    • Financial Transparency: It provides transparency into your company’s spending patterns to allow a full understanding of where your funds are allocated.
    • Budget Compliance: It helps ensure your organization operates within your budget constraints.
    • Resource Optimization: With regular monitoring and analysis, you can identify opportunities for resource optimization.
    • Strategic Decision-Making: Your company leaders can make informed strategic decisions with accurate and up-to-date information on expenses.
    • Risk Mitigation: With policies set in place and even conducting regular audits, your organization can easily avoid fraud, errors, and non-compliance.
    • Employee Accountability:  It sets clear expectations for employees to embody responsible spending.
    • Enhanced Productivity: When you optimize expense reporting and reimbursement, your organization can reduce administrative burdens on employees and financial teams.
    • Adaptability to Change: With a dynamic expense management strategy, you allow your organization to adapt to the changes in the business environment, which may include fluctuations in market conditions, shifts in customer demands, or unexpected economic challenges.

    Related: A Quick Guide To Purchasing Compliance

    18 Expense Management Strategies To Reduce Travel And Entertainment Expenses

    1. Negotiate Better Rates

    This is a no-brainer suggestion that you should look at reducing the cost for travel and expense, but where do you start and how much you can save?

    Below is an analysis done by Accenture to identify how much companies can save by strategically negotiating rates combined with small policy changes.Accenture Analysis - Savings from better expense management

    The lowest is in the hotels – 4% cost savings and the highest is in the travel management company. The one obvious thing you point out is that the companies covered in this survey have more than $1B in spending.

    Not all companies have such high Spend but you can still achieve these savings by carefully analyzing the spend.

    Let’s look at the two to three categories where you can easily save 4-5% on travel expenses.

    Savings On Hotel Rates

    The approach most people take with hotel negotiations is to negotiate a nationwide discount program with big hotel chains like Marriott. In theory that makes sense, but you need a large volume of Spend to be in a position to negotiate rates with these hotel chains.

    Most of the time, they won’t even entertain you if your volume is low.

    There are other cheaper alternatives like Airbnb, but that comes with the added cost of risk to the company, which needs to be underwritten by another corporate insurance policy.

    Instead, we suggest that you look at the top 5 cities where your employees are traveling and start negotiating the rates for each city.

    Here is how it works:

    1. Get the travel data for the last 12 months; you can get this from your travel booking tool.

    You can get that from your expense reporting tool if you don’t have a travel booking tool. If you don’t have that, have someone review manual receipts for the last 2-3 months and identify top cities.

    2. Identify the top hotels where you have maximum nights.

    3. Call that specific hotel location – Yes, you read that right – Don’t call the hotel chain because they won’t be interested, assuming you have a low volume of nights.

    4. Ensure that your employees use that code while booking the hotel.

    Savings On Airfare

    Certain airlines might offer you discounted rates for airfare, especially if they are introducing a new flight from your city. For example, Southwest introduces discounts whenever they launch in a new city.

    Otherwise, it would be best to have a volume of at least $1M to get airline discounts.

    If you don’t have such a large volume of travel, don’t worry. Just register for corporate miles, and you can still save money. We have covered this in detail in the later sections.

    Savings On Car Rental

    This used to be an area where companies used to put a lot of focus on negotiating costs, but with the growth in ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, the volume of car rentals is low.

    Check your car rental expenses and see if there is any substantial volume, and then use that to negotiate a better deal with car rental companies.

    We didn’t cover meals because we will discuss that in the next section.

    2. Increase Visibility And Accountability

    Increasing visibility is the first step towards decreasing the cost of the overall T&E expenses. Of course, more visibility drives better accountability.

     

    Lack_of_visbility_expenses

    Paystream analyzed this issue in one of its annual surveys.

    As you can see in the graph above, 19% of the companies consider lack of spend visibility as an issue, which is the main motivator for them to invest in a travel expense management tool.

    And approx 26% of the companies in the <$100M annual revenue range report this is an issue.

    We have covered the benefits of automation in the subsequent sections, but let’s first focus on the benefits of increased spend visibility.

    By increasing visibility into spend, you can understand the top merchants with whom you are spending money and the purpose of those expenses. Here are a few suggestions on visibility into expenses.

    • Drive accountability by opening up the expense report to all department owners. Every department owner should be able to see the total department spend, top employees by spend and top merchants by spend. It is not uncommon for budget owners to say that they didn’t realize they were spending that much.
    • If you are uncomfortable with opening up expense reports to everyone, then at least show them how much they are spending compared to other departments.
    • When showing comparison, focus on the categories. For example – a sales department might have Airfare as their top expense, but the marketing department might have business meals as their top expense.

    The goal is to increase transparency so that everyone can ask whether this expense is required.

    Use this introspection to avoid unwanted expenses in the future.

    3. Link Cost To Outcome, Especially For Sales

    Reducing travel and entertainment costs is important, but have you tried to link the expenses to the outcome it drives?

    Let us explain.

    Each department has certain Key outcomes they are trying to achieve. For the department to achieve those outcomes they leverage resources and expenses being one of them. Let’s take an example – The sales department.

    Sales’ main goal is to get revenue and help companies meet the corporate revenue goal. To achieve those goals, they hire salespeople to travel to meet prospects, and so on.

    So essentially, their main goal is revenue, so you can measure the outcome by measuring the expenses as compared to the revenue goal.

    So, for example, if the expense for the sales team is $500,000, and they contributed $10M in revenue, then the expense per $ sales revenue is $0.05, or in other words, for every dollar in revenue, you are spending $0.05.

    The reason for measuring this is important is that now you can assess the impact of expenses on revenue. In other words, the outcome.

    Second, you can take this data to the Sales rep level and see the individual effectiveness,

    For example, Rep 1 generates $1m in revenue and $100,000 in expenses, while Rep 2 spends the same amount but only generates $200,000 in revenue.

    Now, before you say, it is not that simple. We would say, yes, we agree – this is not perfect, but you can start asking these questions if you have expenses linked to the business outcome.

    Don’t focus on all departments when linking expenses to the outcome. Just take the top X departments, which contribute to 80% of the spend, and then try to link expenses with outcomes.

    4. Implement An Expense Management Software

    Processing expense reports manually is challenging and time-consuming.

    Expense submission methods

    Source: Paystream

    Still, 34% of small and mid-market companies report that they process expenses manually, whether through spreadsheets or a combination of spreadsheets and manual processing.

    Implementing an expense management tool is a low-hanging fruit for cost reduction. The tools are generally inexpensive and easy to implement.

    The same survey reveals that the average cost of processing an expense report manually is $26.63, and the cost of processing the same expense report fully automated is $6.85

    Processing cost - Expense reports

    That saves $19.78 per expense report or a 75% reduction in expense report processing cost.

    So for example, you process 1,000 expense reports every year, so as per this analysis, you can save up to $19,780 annually by automating the expense report submission process.

    Even if you paid $5000 annually for an expense management system, it is still ~300% return on investment (ROI).

    That decreased cost is manifested in the form of increased productivity of your AP team. So instead of spending time on creating expense reports in the system, they can focus more on ensuring that reports are correct and employees are only getting reimbursed for what is allowed as per corporate spend policy

    The other benefit of implementing an expense management tool is that you can automate a lot of data capturing, including the chart of accounts to which the expense should be coded.

    For example, In ProcureDesk Expense management tool, the expenses are automatically linked to the accounting based on the line item category.

    If you want to explore how to use ProcureDesk as a spend management tool, we have a team of experts who can walk you through how it works. Click here to see it in action

    5. Implement A Pre-Authorization Mechanism For Expenses

    The biggest issue with expenses is that no matter how efficiently you process them, the spending has already happened.

    We recommend implementing a pre-authorization control for all major purchases through your purchasing system.

    Related: How To Use A Purchase Requisition System To Control Cost

    We argue that the same should be done for your expenses. Not every expense but any expense above a threshold. Let’s say that threshold is $500, it could be anything based on your spend patterns.

    But the idea here is to afford the opportunity to decision-makers to review the spend before it happens. That way, they can decide whether the spending is necessary or can be avoided.

    Now, travel falls in a separate bucket, and we cover that in the next section.

    Expense Pre-Authorization Example

    Let’s say that your marketing department wants to do an event, let’s say it is a new product launch party. They probably have to purchase supplies for the event, and they might use their personal or corporate credit cards to purchase these supplies.

    They go ahead and spend the money, and now, after they submit the expenses, the stakeholder knows how much was the total cost and finance is trying to understand if this was even an approved expense.

    Now consider this scenario.

    The person in charge of the purchase goes to the expense management system and submits a request for an expense.

    They request approval for a certain amount, and based on the amount, the expense is routed for approval to budget owners and finance.

    If the expense is approved, the person in charge can go ahead and purchase whatever is required for the event and submit the expenses.

    The expenses are linked to the pre-authorization request, so finance knows it was pre-approved. They check for receipts, and the expense is approved.

    Which scenario is easier?

    We gave this example because many assume that adding more controls to the expense process will slow down things for employees.

    That might be true in the case of manual controls and approvals.

    However, with the help of technology, you can automate this process and make it simpler for your employees to have the expenses pre-approved.

    6. Reduce Travel Cost In Business Through Trip Approvals And Advance Booking

    We kept travel separate because this is generally implemented in your travel management tool.

    If you don’t have a travel management tool, this can go through the expense pre-approval process we defined above.

    If you do have a travel tool, then the pre-approvals can be managed within that tool.

    The idea is simple – have pre-authorization of travel to avoid unwanted travel.

    For example – Often for big industry conferences, many employees from different departments travel for the same conference. With pre-authorization of travel, you can ensure that only required employees are going, and the rest can be debriefed when the employees return from the conference.

    There are two ways you can implement pre-authorization of travel approvals

    Approve Everything

    In this case, you are approving all the travel requests before the travel is booked. It makes perfect sense because it helps you to control the spend.

    The challenge with this approach is two-fold.

    Approvals requires time; depending on the travel amount, this could be a full-time job.

    Second, most travel approvals are time-sensitive, usually 24 hours. So, the person approving the travel request must know that so that employees can get the requested fare.

    Unless you are a very small company, we don’t recommend this.

    Approve Exceptions Only

    The other approach is only to approve exceptions. That means travel booking doesn’t need pre-approval unless it is an exception.

    How do you define an exception?

    You can define caps for airfare and hotels, and any travel above the threshold should be considered an exception and needs to be approved. In the later section, we have covered the concept of caps in more detail.

    7. Sign Up For Award Miles For Airlines

    This might be the simplest technique for reducing your travel costs.

    Every major airline has a corporate award program. At least, that is true for major airlines in the United States.

    It works because you keep accumulating points every time your employees book travel. You can then use those points to book travel for your employees.

    These points are in addition to what your employees earn from travel.

    This way, you are not incurring an additional cost but using existing points to book new travel.

    Some airlines do have minimum requirements for you to be eligible to enroll in such a program, so please read the fine print.

    How much can you save through corporate reward programs?

    It, of course, depends on the travel in a year, but you can start accumulating points over some time.

    For example, you can redeem a Delta Airlines travel certificate anywhere in the US for 80,000 miles in economy. Let’s assume that each ticket generally costs $500. if your company accumulates 1 Million miles in a year, that is around 12 tickets. This adds up to $6,000.

    Now, you might say it is not a lot of money, but that is free money, and you don’t have to make any big change for that; register and then keep accumulating points. If nothing else, you can use these cost savings to invest in expense management and reporting tool.

    The trick is to redeem these points for expensive tickets, so if you do accumulate many points, you might want a dedicated person to manage this so that these points are not misused.

    Here are the links for major corporate miles programs:

    Delta Airlines Skybonus program

    American Airlines Business Extra Program

    United Airlines PerksPlus program

    Southwest airlines SWABIZ program

    To ensure you get these points, you have to book either on the direct website of the different providers or add the codes in your travel booking tool.

    8. Reduce/Control Air Travel And Hotel Costs By Introducing Thresholds

    Air travel and lodging are the two main expenses of your overall T&E travel budget. The next would be meals and entertainment.

    According to a JP Morgan survey, companies spend between 24% and 38% on air travel. This number could vary, of course, based on the company’s size.

    Spend across different travel categories

    For example, in mid-market companies, the number is 24%. That means if you spend $1M in total expenses, $240,000 would be on air travel. So, what are the opportunities to reduce air travel costs?

    Introduce The Least Logical Fare For Air Travel

    But, it is the lowest airfare available for a selected time window. For example +/- 2 hours window from the selected time.

    Users are encouraged to pick the lowest logical fare to reduce the cost.

    The next step is to introduce a threshold or cap beyond which approval is required before the travel can be booked. The idea of the cap is to give enough flexibility on the flight choices without needing approval. Some companies go by %, and others go by a fixed amount.

    So, let’s take an example.

    An employee plans to travel from New York to San Francisco. The flight cost starts at $500 based on the parameters they entered. So, the least logical fare, in this case, is $500.

    How do you define the threshold?

    The ideal way to do this is to look at historical data and identify the most traveled sectors.

    Take the top 2-3 sectors and try to book travel 2 weeks in advance and see the least logical fare, then take the top 4-5 options for flexibility and see the maximum cost of the ticket.

    So, for example, the least logical fare is $500, and to offer flexibility, employees can pick from other 5 flights, and let’s say the max cost of the ticket is $600.

    So, in this case, the threshold is $100 over the least logical fare or 20% over the least logical fare.

    Again, there is no standard benchmark for this; you can quickly analyze your past travel history and determine the thresholds.

    Caps For Lodging/Hotels

    The next step is to define caps for hotel costs or per-night costs for hotels. Any hotel booked about the cap must go through an approval process and should be treated as an exception.

    This can be achieved in one of the two ways or a mix of the following two approaches.

    Define Your Cap For Hotel

    The best way to define a cap is to analyze your historical data and see what you have paid overtime for different cities. This could be overwhelming if your employees travel all across the world.

    In that case, prioritize the top 5- 10 cities contributing to the maximum spend and then identify the average rate paid for that city. That becomes your new cap.

    Now,, if you think that that might not work for times when you have a price surge due to events in that town, you are correct. However, since you are taking the average cost over 12 months, hopefully, that should give you a good idea of what has been paid over time.

    The other way to look at the cap is what is your preferred rate in a given city. If you have negotiated a rate with the preferred hotel, use that as a cap per night.

    Use A Standard Benchmark For Hotels Cap

    The other alternative is to use standard benchmarks. In cases where you don’t have a purchase history, then rely on the benchmarks.

    BTN publishes a yearly benchmark on per diems, which includes hotels too.

    Here is a snapshot of the top 10 cities from the 2018 benchmark

    Hotel per diem

    You can read the complete 2018 hotels benchmark here

    For example, New York is $392.95 per night, and Honolulu is $239.32.

    If you want to understand further how these average rates are calculated, you can read the detailed US hotel cost breakdown report

    Hotel per diem by city - breakup

    So, for example, New York’s average rate per night is $392.95, but that includes $62.48 in taxes. The per-night rate varies from $288.50 to $335.91 based on the type of hotel.

    9. Reward Frugal Employees

    Cost reduction is not always about spending less but spending wisely. You would always have employees who treat company money as their own money and would spend the money wisely. They would spend the money as if it were their own money.

    Conversely, some employees don’t care how and how much they spend until the manager approves it.

    To reduce costs in the long term, you need to establish a cost-conscious culture.

    The best way to build a cost-conscious culture is to ensure that everyone knows where they stand compared to other employees in the company or department.

    Now if you want to have radical transparency, let everyone have access to each other expenses. That way, you can see the Hawthorne effect firsthand.

    If you are not that bold, start by showing where an employee stands as compared to others in their department and the whole company. Any good expense reporting tool can help you achieve that.

    You should not just stop at this but reward employees who are spending frugally.

    Publicly recognize these employees with monetary rewards to drive the right behavior.

    For example, you can issue gift cards to frugal employees.

    You could do a “Frugal Employee of the Month” award for the most frugal employee.

    We don’t think the gift card amount matters much, but recognizing the right behavior matters the most.

    You could do this in multiple ways – having a “Frugal Employee of the month” in each department or each company.

    Now, how do you identify frugality?

    There are a couple of ways to do that; you can identify employees who picked the least logical fare the most.

    The other way to look at it is to identify employees who have booked the lowest-cost hotels in a specific city.

    A word of caution here: We assume that your travel tool is set up so that the unsafe hotels are already removed from the listing, and you only show the safe and decent hotels. For example, 3-4 stars and above.

    It doesn’t have to be complicated. If you can’t do anything else, reward the random acts of frugalness. That would go a long way in establishing a cost-conscious culture.

    10. Utilize Virtual Meetings

    Leveraging virtual meetings is a strategic move to reduce the need for extensive travel in business operations.

    By encouraging video conferencing tools, companies stand to gain significant cost savings as flights, accommodations, and ground transportation expenses are curtailed.

    This approach optimizes budget allocation and enhances time efficiency, allowing for prompt engagement in discussions without the delays associated with physical travel.

    11. Leverage Technology For Accommodations

    Harness the power of technology to optimize accommodations for your team.

    You can effortlessly compare hotel rates, secure valuable discounts, and ensure employees stay in cost-effective lodgings by utilizing specialized platforms.

    12. Optimize Meal Expenses

    By optimizing meal expenses, your company can balance managing costs and supporting the well-being of your team members on the road.

    Clear and well-communicated guidelines facilitate smarter spending choices without compromising your traveling workforce’s overall satisfaction and nutritional needs.

    13. Review And Consolidate Subscriptions

    Regularly review and consolidate subscriptions linked to travel and entertainment services to ensure that your company invests only in services delivering tangible value.

    This strategic approach systematically assesses existing subscriptions, eliminating redundancies and unnecessary expenses.

    14. Flexible Travel Policies

    Implement flexible travel policies to empower employees to choose more cost-effective travel options.

    These policies could include flexibility in travel dates, consideration of alternative airports, or even exploring less expensive transportation modes.

    By providing such flexibility, your company not only supports cost-conscious decision-making but also allows employees to tailor their travel arrangements better to suit both their needs and the company’s budget.

    15. Track and Analyze Spending Patterns

    Harness the power of data analytics tools to track and analyze historical spending patterns related to travel and entertainment.

    By delving into this data, your organization can pinpoint trends and identify areas where potential cost savings may be realized.

    16. Centralized Booking

    Introduce a centralized booking system to enhance control over travel arrangements, ensuring strict adherence to established policies and optimizing costs through bulk bookings.

    By consolidating booking processes, your organization gains greater visibility and coordination, minimizing the risk of non-compliance with expense policies.

    17. Implement Per Diems

    Consider instituting per diem allowances for meals and incidental expenses during business travel.

    This involves providing employees with a fixed daily budget to cover these expenses, reducing the likelihood of overspending.

    By implementing per diems, your organization establishes clear spending parameters, fostering a culture of fiscal responsibility among employees.

    18. Explore Group Discounts

    When applicable, explore the possibility of securing group discounts for travel and entertainment expenses.

    This strategy considers group bookings for flights, accommodations, or entertainment events, offering significant cost savings for larger groups.

    By leveraging the collective purchasing power of a group, your organization can negotiate favorable terms and discounts, ultimately reducing overall expenditure.

    What Are The Challenges With Managing Travel & Entertainment Spend?

    So, why are companies not effectively managing expenses if Expense management is important?

    There are a couple of reasons for that

    1. Lack Of A Comprehensive Policy

    The most common reason is a lack of comprehensive T&E policy. If the T&E policy is nonexistent or not detailed enough, then that could cause employees ambiguity on what is reimbursable and what is nonreimbursable.

    This problem can be fixed easily, and having a policy is one of the many best practices for T&E expense policy. Also, having a T&E policy helps you gather better data, increasing visibility into Spend.

    We have already covered this in Components of the T&E policy, but here is a brief overview of what you should cover in a basic expense policy.

    a) What are the different expense categories, and what information do you need to capture when employees submit their expenses? For example, Air travel, business meals, entertainment, etc.

    b) When your employees should submit receipts. For example, any expense greater than $25 needs a receipt. Maintaining receipts for all expenses or as your auditors require is good practice.

    c) If you issue corporate credits to your employees, you should identify scenarios where the card should and shouldn’t be used. Also, some companies mandate corporate cards because that helps gather more consistent data for further spending analysis.

    d) A clear definition of what expenses are reimbursable and what are not. There is no set standard for what is considered reimbursable and what is not. It completely depends upon your company culture and what perks you offer to your employees. For example, if you have remote employees, you might reimburse them for furnishing their home office or regular office supplies.

    In other cases, you might allow expenses like childcare and personal grooming, but in other companies, this might be a non-reimbursable spend,

    How to identify which spend is reimbursable or not? Look at your past expense reports; that would be a good start.

    e) there should be economy vs. business class travel guidelines for air travel. Few things which should be covered in the policy

    • How to select the least logical fare for any sector.
    • What is the cap for hotels in different cities?

    2. Limited Visibility Into Travel And Entertainment Expenses

    Companies’ second challenge with expense management is a lack of detailed spending visibility.

    The lack of visibility is because of a lack of automation. Most of the companies still use spreadsheets to submit and approve expenses.

    Though Excel might be efficient, it is hard to consolidate data from a reporting perspective. When you need information to make decisions on cost-cutting, that information is not readily available.

    As per a survey by research firm Paystream (now called Levvell) advisors, most companies still use manual processes.

    Let’s look at the results of the survey.

    Expenses submission method by revenue

    On average, 26% of companies under $100M in revenue have a very manual process for expense management. Receipts are sent directly to the A/P department for processing.

    Though this might be OK from an expense submission standpoint, it is highly inefficient when consolidating the data to get better spend visibility.

    No wonder companies mention Increasing visibility as their top priority for implementing expense management tools.

    Top Priorities for expense management solution

    As you can see above, 61% of the companies mention increased spending visibility as the top benefit of implementing TEM technologies.

    The second benefit after increased visibility is, of course, quicker reimbursement for employees. This is especially important if you don’t have a corporate card program and ask your employees to use their cards for travel and other entertainment expenses.

    3. Pre-Authorized Of Expenses

    Companies’ other challenge with travel and entertainment expense management is pre-authorization of spend. Let’s discuss this in more detail.

    If you have a purchasing system, you already have a pre-authorization process for Spend. The requisition has proper authorization before the order is sent to the supplier.

    So, if you want to control Spending, you can control costs by rejecting the purchase requisition.

    That is not the case with expenses, and it depends on the manager to judge whether we should have spent this money.

    Travel and hotels are the biggest expenses for companies, followed by meals for business.

    So there are a couple of ways companies can control cost through pre-authorization

    a.) Implement a travel approval policy

    The policy’s intent should be that any travel above a certain threshold should be approved at a certain level in the organization. Be careful about group travel, for example, conferences. It is not uncommon to see people from different departments go to the same industry event. You could reduce cost in these cases by authorizing only limited people for travel.

    The employees who are then traveling can debrief the rest of the team with learnings from the event. Don’t agree with our assessment?

    For example, assume there is an industry event where 3 people from each department are planning to attend.

    Let’s say a total of 10 people went to the event. On an average, it would cost $1200/person (Flight+Hotel+meals).

    The total event cost is $12,000. Let’s say you had pre-authorization of spend, and only 3 people went. That savings of $8,400 (1200*7)—control 5 such events in a year, saving $42,000.

    b.) Implement authorization for major expenses

    Travel is not the only thing that is booked using credit cards or personal cards by employees. There could be events, other parties which are happening in your company. It could be events sponsored by the company.

    Have a pre-authorization of expenses to control costs before they happen.

    We believe so much in pre-authorization that we have built a pre-authorization process right in our expense reporting tool. You have the option to have the expenses approved before your employees go about Spending money.

    The other benefit of pre-authorizing expenses is that the review process becomes simple. You can have the expenses reviewed, and if the expense is tied to a pre-authorization request, you don’t need any further approvals.

    Finance can review expense reports faster, increasing the whole process’s efficiency.

    FAQs

    What Is An Expense Management Scheme?

    An expense management scheme refers to a structured and organized system that your business puts in place to oversee all aspects of your expenses.

    This encompasses policies and tools designed to track, analyze, and control your spending throughout your organization.

    The goal of your expense management is to enhance your financial transparency, streamline your administrative tasks, and ensure you comply with spending policies.

    The Bottomline

    To wrap things up, keeping track of your expenses, especially travel and expenses, is crucial.

    We hope the 18 strategies we shared here can serve as your secret weapon as a CFO to help you make better financial decisions, save money, and help your company grow.

    What you should do now

    Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways we can help you scale your purchasing and Accounts payable process.

    1. Claim your Free Strategy Session. If you’d like to work with us to implement a process to control spending, and spend less time matching invoices, claim your Free Strategy Session. One of our process experts will understand your current purchasing situation and then suggest practical strategies to reduce the purchase order approval cycle.
    2. If you’d like to know the maturity of your purchasing process, download our purchasing process grader and identify exactly what you should be working on next to improve your purchasing and AP process.
    3. If you’d like to enhance your knowledge about the purchasing process, check out our blog or Resources section.
    4. If you know another professional who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, Linkedin, Twitter.
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