To Digitize T&E and Invoice Management, Companies Must Improve IT-Finance Alignment

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The digitalization of manual processes is viewed as increasingly vital across functions, and travel and expense (T&E) management is no exception.

According to a Forrester report commissioned by SAP Concur, the majority of companies face challenges linked to manual processes, from errors in expense reports to the time-consuming nature of dealing with paper documents.

Surveying 378 IT and finance professionals involved with T&E and invoice management at their companies, Forrester found that only 13% are very satisfied with the T&E and invoice management processes that their companies are using.

From the management perspective, lack of visibility into expenses and the protracted process of approving expenses are two of the biggest challenges. Employees and end users gripe about the difficulty of getting invoices approved and the amount of time it takes to submit expenses.

Unsurprisingly, automation ranks top on the priority list for the respondents, as does improved visibility.

Source: Getting Better Mileage Out of Your Travel, Expense, and Invoice Solutions

When it comes to desired invoice management improvements, IT and finance professionals are somewhat more focused on cost reduction, compared with the outcomes they want for T&E. More efficient processes and increased employee productivity are also key motivators for companies seeking to invest in invoice management solutions.

The report pinpoints lack of alignment between IT and finance departments as a key obstacle preventing the improvement of T&E and invoice management. Respondents say that IT and finance departments often have different priorities when it comes to T&E. IT tends to be more focused on employee experience and usability, whereas finance tends to be more concerned with reducing spending.

These findings led Forrester to make the following three recommendations: eliminate paper-based processes, invest in new T&E and invoice management technology, and align finance and IT.

Regarding finance-IT alignment, SAP Concur shared the following tips:

  • Boost finance professionals’ understanding of IT issues, particularly value versus price and how to balance these two considerations
  • CIOs and CFOs should audit current technologies together in order to understand financial risk and IT value
  • Have a unified strategy that meets the needs of both IT and finance functions
  • After the strategy is set, CFOs and CIOs should continue to work together closely on pricing and functionality so that alignment continues

Check out the full report here.

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