Compile an inventory of your biggest expenses and, if your focus is on acquiring and developing customers, you will know that your investment into travel and entertainment (T&E) expenses is a significant corporate cost.

It is these T&E expenses that are regarded as among the most difficult operating expenses to control, due to their lack of visibility. So, it stands to reason that those corporates that successfully improve the visibility of T&E expenses and implement successful strategies for managing these will enjoy a significant improvement to their bottom-line in 2017.

To begin this process, corporates should look at the following priorities in their card programmes in 2017:

Defining a best practice corporate card policy

This year, ask yourself if your corporate card policy has taken the following criteria into consideration:

  • Aligning your travel parameters with your corporate culture and requirements.
  • Complying with government legislation and tax requirements.
  • Automating policy enforcement.
  • Instituting a clear and transparent approval process.
  • Communicating effectively and clearly on how travel should be booked.
  • Communicating effectively and clearly on how different payments must be made.
  • Outlining any exceptions to this policy.
  • Using technology such as an online booking tool that incorporates a T&E policy and preferred suppliers in all travel categories.
  • Acquiring a corporate card that is linked to an automated expense reporting system.
  • Acquiring the ability to analyse data to improve your T&E policy going forward.

Automate expense reporting to improve productivity and reduce processing costs

To stay on top of cashflow it’s imperative that corporates know where and how their money is being spent. Consider how much time and money your company is spending processing purchase orders for high-volume, low-yield transactions that could be better settled through a corporate card and reconciled through an automated expense management system such as Concur. Furthermore, consider the benefits from a business intelligence perspective of being able to review all expenditure online instead of manually. By calculating the cost of processing the expense against the actual cost of the expense, you will see how much you stand to save by automating this process.

Make it easier for employees to report spend

Disciplined spending and reporting thereof are critical for companies and the easier a company makes it for employees to submit expense claims, the better the commitment will be. A mobile app is the key to achieving this. By offering your employees an app, such as Concur, that they can use to report their expenses, they spend less time submitting manual claims. This ensures on-time submissions and provides greater visibility into spending and T&E policy compliance.

Implement a sound corporate card policy

A clear and well communicated corporate card policy can save you time, money and employee frustration. Corporate cards can provide much-needed real-time visibility of expenditure so that you can increase your spend controls. In companies that have implemented a corporate card programme together with a solid corporate card policy the possibility of internal card fraud is reduced to zero.

Obtain and integrate data into an expense management solution

Information is power in the battle for more visibility, and the data that you receive as part of your expense management efforts can be used to enhance supplier negotiating leverage to reduce costs, as well as help you monitor travel policy compliance, which will in turn reduce costs. Integrate this data into your expense management solution to gain real strategic insight into your company’s expenses.

This is the year to be proactive, not reactive – this is your game changer for 2017.