This month our digital media strategy focuses on Expense Management automation and covers many different facets throughout the month. Today’s blog focuses on the fact that according to an Aberdeen survey conducted in 2012, over 80% of companies globally for the last 4 years recognise that T&E Expense Management is no longer a back office function or responsibility due to the strategic nature of the spend and the dire need to track behaviour and spending, however, very few companies have actually made inroads into driving automation and most rely on the third parties involved in T&E, to assist with automation!

We decided to highlight just a few reasons why automation is essential and why it needs to be driven and owned by the company concerned, we trust that you will find the blog informative and we are always available for comment or suggestions.

I believe that all too often when Companies consider T&E, they focus on the actual request and the booking thereof, subsequently focus tends to wan when it comes to expense claims and the processes attached to the submission of expense claims. Fraud occurs in expense claims in two major areas,namely:

Submitting a fictitious claim;

  • Charging for items that were actually personal in nature – hotel bills
  • Billing for travel that never occurred i.e. cancelled airline tickets, seminars or events
  • Seeking reimbursement for items that were never purchased i.e. gifts for clients
  • Collusion amongst employees who both claim mileage when it was actually in a shared vehicle
  • Outright falsifying or manipulation of receipts – taxi’s etc.

Inflating business expenses;

  • Claiming for meals in excess of policy or for items not reimbursable under policy i.e. alcohol, sports tickets.
  • Adding tips to meals when tips are already included
  • Adding tips to reimbursements that were greater than the tip given
  • Flying in higher yielding airline classes when lower classes were in fact available
  • Using inflated mileage totals when seeking automotive travel reimbursements

The above may seem menial but it is a definite reality, some Companies report that 14% of all fraud occurs in just this area alone! This should be reason enough to ensure that your T&E processes are automated, to ensure that your company funds are protected.

What must your automated solution do for you;

  • Not just include the visibility of your company policy, but ensure that limits are built in with auto escalation to approvals in the event of suspected abuse
  • Be able to monitor changes to pre-approved orders after the booking has taken place.
  • Be able to monitor the change in destinations to ensure that a pre-approved London trip does not get changed to a destination such as the Bahamas, detection on value alone is not enough to protect your company against abuse
  • Ensure that reasons are given to approvers as to why policy was not followed
  • Include cost centre owners in all changes that impact on the value
  • Ability to detect duplicate claims against the same expense line item
  • Insist on original invoices and ability to close off expense claims against an original Travel Request to ensure further inflated claims

These are just a few ways TraveluXion can assist Companies in their quest to drive compliance and protect themselves against expense reimbursement fraud. – Shirley Le Roux – GM TraveluXion