QBT sat down with Richard Grigg, Assistant Director of the Finance, Risk and Planning Division at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, to discuss their recent win of Concur’s Innovation Award for their pioneering of smoother and more efficient travel and expense management.
Most people will agree that business travel can be very draining, particularly if you are subject to frequently jetting off for work. However, it doesn’t all end when the plane lands. After the journey, there are ends that need to be tied up, meals that need to be claimed, taxis to be reimbursed and expenses to compensate. This entire process can become complex and littered with inefficient processes if the wrong tools are employed or if your travel and expense policy is not quite up to scratch (or worse, maybe you don’t have a policy at all). This can mean that travellers are not reimbursed in a timely fashion, discouraging them from partaking in future business travel or causing further anxiety about travelling for work.
However, a poorly functioning or vague travel policy that travellers can’t comprehend has equally negative implications for managers. Before you know it, you are left with little to no visibility over travel expenditure, inaccurate data or unaccounted overheads. So how come some companies still find themselves without a clear and comprehensive policy?
To help shed some light, we asked Richard Grigg from the ABS about their award-winning approach to travel and expense management.
Why do you believe expense management automation is an essential part of managing travel?
It is essential in allowing organisations to have visibility and control over travel spend. It is also important in being able to identify and correct areas of non-compliance. This may be travellers booking outside the mandated travel suppliers or placing personal travel on their corporate card.
What was the key distinguisher in setting the Australian Bureau of Statistics apart from other applicants?
Since the introduction of WoAG Phase 2, the ABS has taken advantage of ATO Legislative Instrument Waiver for Diners Club to dispense with the need for staff to retain and scan all their receipts and invoices. This has resulted in annual savings in the receipt management task alone across the organisation of between 1 to 1.5 full time employees, allowing those resources to be better deployed. We also have taken advantage of our Expense Management System provider's independent auditing service, which sees 100% of our transactions undergo a 21 point receipt and policy audit. This service helps drive compliance and alleviates the checking burden on the internal approver who is generally time poor and not conversant with ATO tax invoice requirements.
Let’s talk about travel and expense policy - what works well for you in boosting compliance?
Having an Expense System with in-built audit and external rules that forces the traveller to explain the reasons why they have procured out of policy.
What advice would you give to other organisations who don’t have a travel and expense policy? Is it really possible to get by without one?
In 2018 - definitely NO! Key decision makers within organisations need to know who is spending what, when and how efficiently - without a Travel and Expense policy this is virtually impossible. Maintaining multiple internal travel data collection processes are also costly to maintain.
How has your travel and expense management process positively impacted your employees?
Our travel and expense management process has meant our employees spend less time on the expense acquittal and approval - ensuring more resources are spent on the business of Statistics!
Do you find that there is a “golden rule”?
There is no "golden rule" - times change, policies change, legislative requirements change - ensure that your travel and expense policy is adaptable to these changes in a timely manner.
If your travel policy is not all that it should be or is causing inefficient processes, contact us to see how our experienced team can help you.