BY Kathleen Roberts |

Reconciling Business Travel Expense Reports—How Small, Midsize, and Large Companies Manage

It’s 4:45 p.m. on the fourteenth day of the month and you haven’t started working on your expense reimbursement report, which is due on the fifteenth—in the morning. You scramble to find receipts or anything else that will indicate you actually spent $150 for a client lunch. It’s the only receipt out of seven that you can’t find. But no receipt, no reimbursement.

In this day and age it is critical to quickly reconcile your expense report. Taking a picture of your receipt and emailing it to an expense program is becoming more common. Many companies are jumping on the bandwagon of purchasing an expense tool, not only for their internal reporting needs, but for their traveler’s expenses as well.

Reconciling business travel expenses

A recent industry survey, based on input from more than 165 companies, indicated that many companies still use manual processes, such as spreadsheets and paper, for expense reporting and management. The majority of those companies surveyed were looking to reduce costs and increase compliance through moving expense management to the cloud (the “cloud” is a term for the internet—in other words, a network of servers). Survey findings detailed small, midsize, and large company expense management challenges and what companies are seeking in a new system.  The segment with the most responses was enterprise level organizations—those with 1,000 employees or more.

Survey highlights included:

  • Top pain points for expense management include employees not submitting reports on time (47%), employees losing or forgetting receipts (42%), and excessive time spent improving and reconciling reports (39%).
  • More than 50% of organizations still have manual processes for expense management.
  • After simplifying processes (50%), the second top critical area for expense management improvement is mobile access (40%).
  • 64% of small businesses and 57% of midsize businesses plan to switch to cloud-based expense management systems.
  • Nearly half of enterprise companies (1,000 employees or larger) still employ manual expense processes, yet 72% of those respondents will switch to cloud-based systems.
  • Top reasons for switching to the cloud include simplifying overall expense reporting processes, providing anywhere access to expense systems, and delivering better analytics and reporting.
  • Users of automated expense management systems report much faster reimbursement times: 52% report less than seven days, compared with 8-14 days for 50% of companies with manual processes.
  • More than half of small and medium businesses integrate their expense management system with corporate credit cards, 46% integrate with general ledger, and 39% with accounts payable.