Examining the five stages of travel and expense program maturity.
The pandemic didn’t tap you on the shoulder and whisper, “Hey, you should really think about updating your legacy travel and expense (T&E) systems so you can more easily adapt to global business fluctuations.” It kicked in the door, sent your employees home, put its feet up on your desk, and demanded immediate changes.
And now, when 50% of the world has moved on and beyond their “dinosaur systems,” the businesses left behind are scrambling to take their first few tentative steps toward the cloud and away from manual, monolithic models. If you find yourself in this latter group, you’re in the first of five stages of T&E maturity as outlined in the recent IDC Presentation, sponsored by SAP Concur, Enterprise Travel and Expense Software Maturity Model. Being there, however, doesn’t mean staying there.
You can move forward. You can reevaluate how you get work done. You can commit to continuous improvement. And you can actually find ways to get better results. But first, you have to get unstuck.
Legacy Applications: Dislodging yourself from the bad old days.
These once-great beasts of on-premise power have outlived their usefulness, and adopting a modern, cloud-based financial application can breathe new life into employee productivity and business efficiency. Automating and imbedding intelligence in your T&E processes will deliver better data for more strategic decisions, increased agility, predictive budgeting, and the speed to stay ahead of the competition.
“The sudden shift to remote work put a spotlight on the inadequacies of legacy software…
Employees could not access the application, and (it) could not work remotely.”1
Automated Point Solutions: One small result at a time.
Specialized solutions built around workflows like AP or treasury are good in that they solve the problem at hand. The trouble is that problems tend to go hand-in-hand across all your departments, so even if you solve an issue in one area, it still might exist somewhere else. Instead of a specific solution to a specific issue, a connected spend management platform allows you to combine spend data from across your organization, so you can not only improve visibility into things like savings and bookings, you can address multiple issues at once, in one place.
“Covid has accelerated the adoption of automated technologies.
The shift toward automation has also included a shift away from older, more cumbersome,
rule-based automation to intelligent automation driven by machine learning.” 1
Connected Platform Ecosystems: Better, but not perfect.
Connecting travel and expense data to your system and to third-party apps like airlines and hotels is a great way to share traveler data, but you still have to jump from system to system to collect that data. Move to the next stage, and you can connect business applications to budget tracking and pre-approval functions, so you can see spending before it’s spent. All in one place.
“42% of survey respondents describe their financial apps as ‘disconnected’.” 1
Integrated Application Suites: Pulling apps together around a task.
Let’s say you want an end-to-end view of working capital. To get it, you need to bring together info from your T&E, corporate card, CRM, and ERP/financial systems. A suite can handle this quite nicely, but a fully connected, cloud-based system can support a full transformation of your financial processes. And you can use intelligent tech to reduce processing time, improve audit efficiency, and otherwise get finance back on its post-pandemic feet.
“59% of respondents cited a preference for integrated suites vs. ‘best of breed’.” 1
Intelligent/Predictive Processes: Welcome to financial adulthood.
This is where everyone wants to be – where they can predict (and therefore avoid) unplanned and needless expenses, and where they can forecast future spending and be ready. This forward-looking approach is a far cry from where many organizations are today: Looking back over the past few months, trying to determine what was spent and why. Putting intelligence to work in this way will enable you to continually evolve and improve, and when a world-shaping event knocks on your door, you’ll know what to expect.
Get a deeper look into each of these stages – and how to move on – when you check out IDC Presentation, Enterprise Travel and Expense Software Maturity Model.
Footnote 1: IDC Presentation, sponsored by SAP Concur, Enterprise Travel and expense Software Maturity Model, doc #US48310221, October 2021