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segunda-feira, 15 de abril de 2013

Survey: More Integration Needed For Travel Expense Systems


Improving the value of a company's travel and expense program can be accomplished through tighter integration between travel and enterprise systems, consolidation of travel and expense data and more frequent use of preferred vendor relationships, according to a January survey by SAP and CFO Research.
Conducted in January among 173 senior finance executives at large and midsize North American and European companies across various sectors, the survey found that a plurality of respondents, 39 percent, indicated that "the single largest barrier to accessing robust, timely and comprehensive information on travel expenses is a lack of integration among different systems and process."
Twenty-two percent of companies surveyed said their travel systems are tightly integrated with enterprise research planning and general ledger systems. Fifty-two percent indicated some integration, while 25 percent said there is no integration between their systems.
Of the surveyed senior finance executives who work at companies with tightly integrated travel systems, 49 percent agreed that travel systems contributed substantially to their ability to meet travel expense management goals. This figure was lower among respondents at companies with "somewhat integrated travel systems" (11 percent) and executives at firms with no integration between their travel and other enterprise systems.
Consolidating travel expense data into a single source also tends to offer better value, according to the survey; 25 percent of polled companies reported using a unified source of travel expense data.
"With this level of complexity, collecting, aggregating and analyzing travel-related information can easily be as much of a time-sink with siloed systems as it is in companies that do it all by hand," according to researchers.
Of the respondents who indicated their companies have a unified source of travel expense data, 84 percent said management decision makers have access to "robust, timely and comprehensive information" on travel expenses. Among executives working at companies that have multiple data sources, 57 percent indicated as much.
Three-quarters of respondents indicated their companies use preferred vendor relationships to receive special products, services, prices or business terms for travel-related purchases, and 77 percent agreed that using preferred-vendor relationships would "yield a meaningful financial benefit for companies."
"Fully leveraging such relationships is most often a question of consolidating purchasing volume and better enforcing employee compliance," according to the survey report.
Respondents pointed to some remaining travel cost-control challenges. One company further restricted employee travel to better control costs, one respondent reported, but the new restrictions brought additional difficulty in managing them.
An associated challenge is that the need for speed and maneuverability outpaces the degree of control companies seek. Simplifying the administrative burden for employees may come at the expense of the more detailed reporting that finance executives need to better control spending. Also, automating the processes is not enough, according to researchers. It has to be "done right," by offering more integration and consolidation between systems, as well as more communication to employees.

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