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Travel & Expense

Tip #1 for Cutting T&E Waste and Abuse

on August 30, 2013

Did you know that T&E is probably your company’s second largest discretionary expense, representing as much as 6% of all corporate expenses? And that percentage is growing In today’s business environments, it’s important to make every budget dollar count. We have worked with our customers over the past ten years to identify T&E waste and take steps to positively influence traveler behavior. Our first in a series of tips for cutting T&E waste is focused on stopping duplicate expense submissions.

T&E management systems do a good job of discouraging the same expense from being reported twice on the same expense report. Where things get a little more challenging is when expenses are duplicated across multiple expense reports for the same traveler and when two travelers claim the same expense on different reports. Across all Oversight customers, duplicate submissions occur for less than 1% of all transactions.

In the first scenario, a traveler might submit an expense report that includes an airline ticket. He takes his credit card receipt, enters the appropriate information, and submits the expense report for reimbursement. A month later, he can’t remember if he submitted that airline ticket for reimbursement. He can’t find his credit card receipt, but he can find his itinerary. He submits another expense report for the current time period with his itinerary and claims the expense as an out-of-pocket expense. While certainly erroneous, this isn’t necessarily malicious. But leaving this hole open can create the opportunity for abuse by a problem traveler.

In the second scenario, two or more travelers have dinner together. One traveler pays for the meal with her company card and properly expenses the meal. The other traveler takes the itemized receipt and expenses the same meal as an out-of-pocket expense. This behavior is rarely erroneous and we often see that travelers abusing the system like this exhibit other behaviors that also abuse company policy.

Our customers who are automatically monitoring their T&E transactions and reports on at least a monthly basis see a significant reduction in these behaviors. Erroneous duplicate submissions still occur. But the errors are identified and the erroneous reimbursements are returned. As importantly, abusive behavior drops near zero as travelers understand that companies are inspecting what they are expecting from travelers.