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Rise of the Project Workforce, Chapter 12: Travel and Entertainment and Expense Management (#12 in the series Rise of the Project Workforce)
By Rudolf Melik

Travel and entertainment (T&E) is the second largest cost for most organizations, after labor. Yet it is frequently managed manually on paper and spreadsheets. Automating T&E not only reduces administrative effort, but it also simplifies the allocation of costs, expedites billing, and provides critical information for enterprise-wide reporting. Companies can save not just thousands, but millions of dollars in administrative costs and boosted productivity. But moreover, automated and integrated T&E helps prevent data entry errors and omissions, “rogue” spending, and even fraud and the resulting legal liability.

T&E expenses generally follow an expense management cycle, which consists of the initial recording of expense data, approval and review, forwarding to payroll/accounting for processing, reporting of billable expenses to the billing manager, reporting to A/P and A/R for financial reporting, and inclusion in executive dashboards and reports.

To ensure that this data gets reported appropriately, and that users at the appropriate levels see only the data they are authorized to see, an integrated and automated solution is key. Such a system can be configured to accommodate scenarios such as multiple levels of approval, late submissions and approvals, and automatic approvals of certain types of expenses. It can also accommodate line item approvals, and requests for expenditures, such as travel, that may need approval before the fact.

Automated T&E has become essential for companies that operate across multiple currency and tax jurisdictions. More frequently, employees, their employers, and customers are in different countries with different currencies, subject to different tax laws. The automated system facilitates reporting, reimbursement, and compliance issues that might otherwise become severely delayed when processed manually.

T&E systems, as a part of project workforce management, ensure that project accounting is accurate, corporate policies are followed, and office expense reports are accurate and timely. Offline as well as online expense reporting systems provide employees who travel with easy-to-use tools to avoid the frustration, delays, and inaccuracies of manual systems.

For more details about project management and Sarbanes-Oxley, see Rise of the Project Workforce.

Rudolf Melik is the author of The Rise of the Project Workforce: Managing People and Projects in a Flat World, and is the CEO and a founder of Tenrox. In his writings and speeches, Melik explores the ways that companies can thrive in a world where rapid technological advances and globalization are changing how we get work done and manage the people who do it. Rudolf’s professional blog can be found at: http://www.talentontarget.com/talent_on_target.

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