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The Travel and Expense Problem

Let’s take an insight into the life of Tarun!
Tarun, aged 30, works for the Sales Department of XYZ Inc., an IT services company based in Mumbai. He has 3 dependents in his family and works extremely hard to ensure that they are getting all their basic needs fulfilled. His responsibilities include going on field trips to make sales for the IT services that his organization provides. All the expenses that are incurred by him on the field trip are covered for by XYZ Inc. These reimbursement claims have to be applied for separately and the employees are re-paid towards the end of the month.

An average field trip requires expenditure on the flight tickets, cab services, food and accommodation. In exceptional cases, there may be medical and luxury reimbursements as well. On a particular field trip to New Delhi, he spent 30,000/-. To apply for a reimbursement, an expense claim has to be manually submitted to a manager and approver, who cross checks the expenditures with the set of acceptable expenses. The repayment is done only once all the claims have been audited and approved. During this time, crucial time is wasted and Tarun does not get his own money for a while. There is no way for him to know if a certain expenditure has been approved or not, which does not let him plan personal expenditures for the next month. He has to preserve all the receipts till the end of the month.

Now, assuming XYZ Inc. has 700-800 such employees, each employee must be submitting travel claims and facing the same problems as Tarun. This accounts for the creation and maintenance of 1,400 reports and 70,000 receipts on a monthly basis. Managers only get to know about the expenses once reports have been submitted. Problems, if any, are managed, not mitigated.

Let us broadly categorize the problems faced by the employees and employers from the aforementioned anecdote.

  1. Untimely reimbursements
  2. Difficulty in creating travel claims
  3. Creation, maintenance and processing of thousands of reports
  4. No real time visibility of expenses

These practices have long sustained the travel and expense reimbursement throughout the world. However, if we speak in monetary terms, a lot of money is lost in the process. Optimal utilization of resources is a must in today’s corporate world, and those who don’t adapt, will eventually dwindle way into obscurity. Resources such as time and money, need to be channelized towards the proper project or department for an organization to achieve its internal KRAs and KPIs. Expense management automation might not be coming at cheap prices, but it is what will sustain organizations in the long run. IT IS TIME TO INVEST IN YOURSELF.