The 6-step Plan To Travel & Expense Management Automation
With the business travel industry on the rise, efficient travel and expense management is becoming increasingly important for companies. In this read you will learn: How to automate in 6 clear steps How much to spend on a good solution How to find a good fit for your company’s needs How to
The Return on Investment Of Automating Your Travel & Expense Management
The return on investment (ROI) of automating your expense management should be one of the main internal selling points of the project. Fully automating your expense management will greatly decrease costs by reducing the time your employees spend dealing with expenses, by increasing compliance with y
13 Key Features Every T&E Tool Should Have
Travel expense management (TEM) has changed a lot in recent years. Especially Software as a Service (SaaS) tools have disrupted the way expenses are managed. What once were very innovative tools for risk-loving companies, have now become the gold standard in many companies. However, with more than 1
Outsourcing is the business practice of delegating to a third party to perform services and produce goods that were traditionally performed in-house by the company’s own employees and staff. This raises the question: why would a firm delegate to a vendor a service it can provide itself? In the case of travel expense management, the simple answer is that outsourcing to a third party vendor can reduce travel expenses; improve staff productivity; allow your company to access specialized industry expertise; and provide better overall management of corporate costs. Let’s take a look at each of these areas in turn.
1. Outsourcing Expense Controlling is Good Economics
To begin with, outsourcing makes good sense because it involves the application of the well-known economic principle of comparative advantage. A third-party controller will have a comparative advantage in controlling your expenses simply because its opportunity cost of doing so is less than the opportunity cost of your company if it controls its own expenses. Opportunity cost measures the cost of resources used to produce something by the value of the best alternative those resources might have produced. This means that the time and resources your company spends on controlling expenses costs the value of what may have been produced with those resources otherwise.
The opportunity cost to the service provider, on the other hand, would simply be the value of providing the service to another client, the same, no doubt, as providing the service to your company. If higher value could be obtained by doing something else with its resources, the service provider would be missing out if it didn’t turn to that line of business.
The reality is that your organization loses when it handles its own expense controlling. However, this is a reality that may not be readily apparent, since opportunity costs, which value courses of action not undertaken, are hidden costs. By handling its own expense controlling, your company suffers the loss of productivity and potential that would have added value. But to paraphrase the well-known saying, we won’t miss what we never had.
Theoretically, outsourcing may still make sense even if your company has an absolute advantage in controlling expenses, i.e. if it could handle travel expense management at a lesser actual cost than the third-party vendor. This is because the opportunity cost your firm would experience by handling the issue internally, i.e. the loss in value of what might have been produced, could be greater than the additional actual monetary cost of farming out to a third-party vendor.
2. Outsourcing Reduces Costs
Of course, the most compelling reason for outsourcing expense controlling is the reduction in actual monetary costs that it brings.
A third-party controller may be able to produce the same services at lesser cost because it benefits from economies of scale, which it passes on to clients. Economies of scale arise when an entity expands the scale of its operations but the inputs to achieve that scale do not increase in the same proportion.
Since, the controller is operating on a large scale, processing the accounts of many clients, its fixed costs of operation, such as office rent, are spread more widely than in a smaller operation, resulting in lower unit costs. In addition, it can dedicate personnel to specific tasks, invest in sophisticated IT systems, and organize its business in a way that increases efficiencies, not open to its clients.
The scale of operations that allows a controller to dedicate personnel to specific tasks results in another benefit – the development of expertise — that client companies can take advantage of. Performing an activity for many diverse clients would give a third-party vendor a perspective that few clients could match. Also over time, the insights gained from the diverse scenarios it encounters lead to improvements in methodology and technology that improve efficiency, allowing further avenues for cost reduction.
3. Outsourcing Expense Controlling Taps into Expertise and Increased Control
Corporate travel expense management requires very specialized knowledge that many companies, even very large ones, may find difficult to curate. Consequently, many travel expense programmes tend to be driven by misinformed policy and faulty design. Conversely, professional travel expense management programmes are likely to conform to industry best practices and be compliant with legal mandates. Turning over travel expense management to a third-party specialist can uncover the flaws in company policy and avoid unwelcome scrutiny from regulatory authorities. Additionally, professional travel expense management solutions will help companies exercise more control, because they typically integrate more data points and incorporate advanced analytics.
4. Outsourcing Expense Controlling Improves Productivity
Outsourcing your travel expense management is likely to increase worker productivity, by reducing the time spent on non-essential tasks. Of course, all tasks required to run a business are necessary but not all equally so. Accordingly, being able to focus on the tasks that are really crucial will improve productivity. For example, a marketing manager’s time would be better spent on planning the next campaign, as opposed to filling out an expense report.
5. Outsourcing Increases Objectivity
Outsourcing expense has the added advantage of mitigating nepotism by introducing objectivity in the assessment of expenses. Nepotism, i.e. favouring family and friends in the workplace, can have deleterious effects on employee morale, as well as cause friction and resentment. In family-owned businesses especially, nepotism can dampen the enthusiasm and initiative of staff and reduce any sense of loyalty to the firm. If you’re not ‘one of them’, why bother to perform?
6. Outsourcing Mitigates Fraud
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with the old saw that “honesty is the best policy.” This means that some expense reports will be… er… economical with the truth. Expense reporting terminological inexactitudes come in a variety of forms and flavours. Here are a few:
- Inflating expenses
- Reporting “cash” expenses to avoid producing receipts
- Disguising expenses not entitled to reimbursement as legitimate expenses
- Splitting an expense to avoid coming up against a limit or ‘ceiling’
- Claiming maximum reimbursement allowed because of “lost’ receipts
- Double billing
- Claiming personal expenses
Third-party outsourcing vendors generally make detection of this sort of chicanery their stock in trade. It’s usually one more point they can use to promote their services. Consequently, they will spot fraudulent activities very quickly.
7. Outsourcing Follows the Money
If there are doubts about outsourcing, then perhaps we should follow the “smart money”. Endorsement of the outsourcing model is evident in the investment management community. About half of private equity firms, investor advisors, and hedge funds presently outsource their fund administration and the rest of the industry is expected to follow suit over time.
There are three main reasons. First, these firms want to reduce fixed costs. Generally, they are finding that outsourcing some administrative tasks lowers expenses. Second, selecting a third-party outsourcing vendor allows a comparison against a best practices standard. Third, the entity providing the outsourced services can act as a regulatory watchdog, offering an objective intermediary perspective that provides a check and control on the activities of money managers by the segregation of duties that results from outsourcing.
It's Time to Outsource Your Expense Controlling
In the area of expense controlling, hiring a dedicated expense person would appear to be the answer. That is costly and only makes sense if the volume of activity merits such a specialist. In any event, a third-party may still be able to provide the service at lesser cost, for all the reasons we’ve discussed. In particular, outsourcing allows the small firm to undertake activities they may not be able to afford otherwise.
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