Employee travel spend has skyrocketed in recent years as organizations of all sizes develop new global trade relationships. But according to PayStream Advisors’ 2015 Travel & Expense Management report, a surprising number of organizations still depend on a mostly manual expense reporting process.

Housing a function as critical to an organization’s bottom line as travel and expense inside a paper-centric system severely limits visibility into corporate spend, and undermines an organization’s ability to stay one step ahead of the competition.

One of the most telling results that came out of the 2015 report was the extent to which corporate travel managers are in the dark regarding a crucial metric of travel and expense efficacy: the cost to produce a single expense report. A full 80% of our respondents do not measure this cost at all. These organizations are missing out on a real opportunity to reign in corporate travel spend.

Even when expense reporting costs are measured, research shows little improvement from year to year: in 2014, the average cost of a manually processed expense report was $23.12, and in 2015, it grew to $26.60. Compared to the average cost of $6.85 per report possible with a fully automated TEM solution, it’s clear that manual expense reporting place heavy burdens on organizations—especially those processing hundreds of thousands of expense reports each year. However, our analysts did detect signs of increasing automation, as well as more advanced TEM offerings from solution providers.

Expense Receipt Submission: A New Frontier

One area that shows a lot of promise to quickly move the needle on the cost-per-invoice metric is expense receipt submission. Analysts found that the most common method for receipt submission is inter-office mail, but there have been some exciting new developments in the marketplace for OCR technology. This technology is capable of revamping the expense receipt submission process to keep up with the modern mobile workforce.

PayStream has seen a dramatic increase in demand for receipt image capture over the past year, as well as for corporate credit card integration and mobility functionality that can streamline this process and deliver instant ROI. Powerful reporting capabilities are now being offered as modular, scalable services that can be integrated into existing ERPs without being cost-prohibitive. This is great news for the 35% of SMEs we surveyed who cite lack of visibility into travel spend as a major challenge. We’re excited to see what 2015 will bring in terms of more refined TEM technologies that can be utilized by organizations large and small.

Stephanie Dula is communications manager at PayStream Advisors, a research and consulting firm dedicated to educating and empowering finance and procurement professionals to become agents of change.

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Pitfalls of Manual Expense Reporting

Pitfalls of Manual Expense Reporting

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