By Yuriy Kropelnytsky, Payments and Fintech expert at Softjourn.
By 2024, the Global Business Travel Association expects business travel to fully recover from the impacts of Covid-19. This is great news for the expense management industry. However, the uptick in business travel also means that there will be more expense reports to file. As well as reimbursements to approve.
The adoption and implementation of automation can yield significant cost savings over the long term. It can increase the speed and accuracy of processes, and greatly improve customer experiences. Yet, manual processes are still commonplace in the industry.
For companies managing travel and business expenses manually, processing just one expense report for a single employee costs $58 on average. Not to mention that each mistake in reporting costs a company about $50 and 20 minutes of time to correct.
You can imagine that for expense management companies with thousands of clients – each with hundreds of employees – labor and mistake costs add up quickly.
Corporate travel and entertainment (T&E) is the second-largest controllable expense for companies. Therefore, it makes up such a large chunk of many companies’ financial outflow. Travel expenses shouldn’t be managed using paper records and manual processes.
Any expense management company that is resistant to automating its record-keeping and expense reviewal process is likely missing out on several advantages of automation. Such as:
- Reduced paperwork, human biases, and errors
- In-demand features sought out by customers
- Increased fraud prevention
- Lower operating costs
- Improved operational efficiency
- Accelerated approvals and reimbursements
- Insightful data collection
- Easier compliance
How an Expense Management Client Used Automation to Strengthen Their Offerings
Our client is a US-based company that runs a large-scale and global expense management platform. Since they are an industry leader, they take a deep interest in building the best features to attract and retain users. They want to stay ahead of the competition. Thus, they need to use automation to provide their customers with a high level of convenience, fraud prevention, and other desired features.
This client trusted an experienced tech service partner, Softjourn, to implement automation on their platform in the following three ways:
Case Study I: Automated User Expenses:
Like many expense management companies, our client has hundreds of users who must manually review and approve numerous employee expenses each month.
In order to ease this burdensome task on their users, the client decided to implement an automated expense review and reimbursement process on their platform. With their automated tool, users can create rules for their employees’ reimbursable spending. Softjourn assisted them in creating additional automation rules and features, which can be customized by each user.
A user can configure a set of rules on the platform. That way they can automate either an auto-approval or auto-denial of the expenses their employees submit. These rules can be based on a variety of fields. From the category of the expense, the amount of money, the payment source, and even who it was submitted or approved by.
The auto-approval functionality that Softjourn’s team helped expand for the client’s platform is extremely flexible and allows for many different rules to be added. These include rules for different groups of employees. But also the types of expenses, the project type, date, location, activity type, whether to include receipts and so on. The possibilities are endless.
The platform is built to ensure that any kind of condition can be create with a customizable tagging feature. No matter what type of condition a user wants to have as an automated field in their expense reports.
The platform’s convenient and personalized expense approval process will help the client retain and gain users, thanks to the attractive and competitive automated features we built.
Case Study II: Automated Administration
Our client knows that many of their users need to manually review hundreds of reports every day. They wanted to find a way to remove these repetitive manual tasks for their users.
Softjourn recommended that the client utilize our customized Autobots for optimizing user processes. Autobots are one of the best ways to remove repetitive manual tasks from expense reporting as they can automatically route, approve, return, and assign reports.
An Autobot can also be customized to replace actions like checking budgets, validating and verifying reports, and many other possibilities. This solution would automate manual processes without shifting control away from internal teams.
We created a Time Validation Autobot that works alongside the users’ internal system to make decisions based on their companies’ internal policy guidelines. The Autobot connected our client’s platform to a tracking system via AOI and can check all of the information submitted, decreasing the chance of human error.
The Autobot developed by Softjourn’s team was customized with the client in mind to:
- Check for pre-approvals
- Assist with encumbrances
- Perform budget checks for expense reports
- Perform liquidation for expense reports
- Finalize liquidation
Each Autobot is different as they are custom-made for our clients and the users of their services. The script for each is also customer-specific, and our team worked to create the best possible scripts according to the needs of our client.
Case Study III: Automated Payments
The client wanted Softjourn to help implement Direct Pay on their expense management platform as this feature is highly sought after by their users. Direct Pay would allow the client’s users to automate the payment of expense reporting reimbursements to their companies’ employees or corporate card providers.
Additionally, Direct Pay would help the client introduce new currencies into their system to support the demand they’ve received from people located in different countries who use currencies not offered on their platform.
By adding new currencies to the Direct Pay feature, the client’s users can automate payments in multiple currencies. So international companies can now use the platform worldwide. All without having to set up new accounts in each country they work in.
The client’s new Direct Pay feature provides more flexibility when using various payment processors, and offers our client’s users more versatility when using the expense management platform.
It is essential that expense management companies be aware of automation trends to ensure that their platform stays up-to-date. Companies that provide automated offerings will be able to sustain themselves and thrive in a competitive landscape.
We believe automation in the expense management industry is here to stay. By upgrading to software that automates expense management, businesses of all types and sizes can streamline operations. In turn it cuts costs, and reduce tasks that waste valuable time and cause unnecessary frustration.
The sooner you adopt automated workflows and rules for key business functions, the better equipped you will be to compete in the market. And ultimately provide your clients with an outstanding experience.