What is the role of automation in claiming travel reimbursements?

How to Handle Your Business Travel Reimbursements Efficiently

Jeremy Francis

February 10th, 2019 Travel Management  

Travel reimbursement can sometimes be an overlooked financial process in an organization, perhaps because it used to be a particularly time-consuming task. But the truth is, if the process is done right, it can yield profitable time and resource efficiencies for both employees and the business as a whole.

Here’s how to make sure that the travel reimbursement process in your organization is offering you the best value, regarding time, ease, and money.

How does travel reimbursement work?

Travel reimbursement is the way employers pay their employees back for expenses they have incurred during business-related travel. Such expenses can range from airfare to mileage, event registration, parking, and meals. Depending on your travel policy, employees may need to pay for these first.

How to speed-up travel reimbursement process?

Digitally automating the travel reimbursement process has become an increasingly popular way for businesses to handle what was once a manual process. Regardless of how the travel expense management process is done, it is important to both employees and the company alike.

Here are some simple tips to get your travel reimbursements faster:

  • Make sure the workflow fits
  • Keep it simple
  • Stick to cloud

1. Make sure the workflow fits

Choosing an out-of-the-box travel reimbursement solution might seem like a good idea, but there may be significant differences in how you want to process reimbursements. Rather than buying a standalone solution, you should consider building your own workflow and form on a simple automation platform.

2. Keep it simple

Many automated solutions actually make the process more complex. More than automated, employees want easy, so don’t choose a solution that complicates things more.

3. Stick to the cloud

Cloud-based travel reimbursement handling is easier for organizations of all sizes. It allows users quick and easy access to the system, coupled with sophisticated data manipulation and analysis, thus, meeting the needs of all parties in the process.

Features to look for in a travel reimbursement system

Every business has unique requirements, but there are a few features that you cannot do without. Here are some essential features that every travel reimbursement system should have:

1. Travel expense policy management

The travel management tool should let you define custom expense policies and approval hierarchies for different kinds of T&E expenses. The system should display the company’s guidelines when employees report their expenses, so they don’t submit unqualified expenses.

2. Expense reporting

Employees report their business expenses to managers or the finance team when they come back from business trips. The travel reimbursement system should let them submit expenses as and when they happen with a mobile app so no expense is left unaccounted.

3. Multi-currency expenses

When employees undertake international travel, they spend in a foreign currency. They get reimbursed in the local currency once they are back. The travel reimbursement system should accommodate multiple currencies and conversion rates.

4. Data validation

Whenever employees submit their reimbursement claims, the system should validate the expenses and throw red flags if they don’t adhere to the spending guidelines. Auto-validation deters the employees from submitting personal expenses, resulting in significant cost savings.

5. Expense approvals

If there are any expenses in the report that don’t comply with the organization’s policy, the system should notify the approver. This makes it easier for managers and the finance team to approve or reject a claim.

6. Integrated system

If the travel reimbursement software is connected with corporate credit cards, travel expenses can be automatically fetched. The system should also post journal entries to the accounting software and update the payroll software so employees can be reimbursed along with their regular paychecks.

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Benefits of automating travel reimbursements

By automating the travel reimbursement process, you can experience these benefits:

  • Faster, on-the-go processing
  • Fewer errors or requests for more information
  • Immediate insight into the state of every request
  • Analytics on how long the process usually takes
  • Clearer sharing of travel policies and approvals

Steps involved in manual travel reimbursement process

In the past, this reimbursement process was often laborious and time consuming for all involved.

Let’s have a look at the different steps of this manual process.

  1. Requesting Reimbursement
  2. Approving Reimbursement
  3. Requesting Payment
  4. Approving Payment

Requesting Reimbursement

The employee would likely have to fill out a paper form by hand, completing full details of the type of travel reimbursement being sought, the reasons for it, and a total cost breakdown, along with attaching all the paper receipts in an envelope or stapled to the back of the form.

Approving Reimbursement

This form would then be handed to their line manager, along with all those receipts, for the line manager to authorize.

Requesting Payment

The authorized form would be sent to the finance team for payment.

Approving Payment

The payment would be approved and wired by the finance team. Finally, the employee receives the payment.

Drawbacks of manual reimbursement process

Manual process in a travel expense tracker system is prone to a number of potential issues, one of the biggest being the fact that the reimbursement crossed a number of hands before its eventual payment to the employee.

Employees relied on their manager to approve the claim quickly. Subsequently, they were bound to strict payment and processing rules, which often caused delays and inevitable frustration.

The manual travel reimbursement process often resulted in errors, or a need to further clarifications between the three key parties within the process: the employee, the manager, and the finance team.

Travel reimbursement with Kissflow Finance & Ops Cloud

Kissflow Finance & Ops Cloud offers organizations robust yet simple solutions to overcome obstacles in their travel reimbursement processes. It gives employees and managers the opportunity to make and authorize claims on the move, and its built-in system formulas mean that the number of fields that need to be manually completed is minimized, leading to quicker and more accurate processing.

The system offers substantial flexibility to add customizable features that suit the needs of the business.

For example, workflows can be adjusted to add in supervisor approvals over an absolute monetary value or auto-approvals for lower amounts. It is also straightforward to add or change permissions to the app, to ensure that the system is customized to each user, adding to the simplicity and ease of the process even further.

Conclusion

With Kissflow Finance & Ops Cloud, you can streamline all your key finance processes like travel reimbursement claims, travel approvals, and budget requests. Get improved control over finance approvals and see your efficiency soaring. Get your free demo today.

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