Business consultants are constantly on the move.
They fly frequently, attend expensive dinners with clients, and even spend in multiple currencies. Despite all these unique challenges in managing business travel expenses, the finance teams of consulting firms haven’t evolved past using spreadsheets and processing reimbursements by verifying individual receipts manually.
The challenges of handling expenses manually
When consulting firms’ finance teams’ take it upon themselves to manually process every reimbursement request, they encounter various issues.
• Loss of credibility
As a consulting firm, they are supposed to be highly efficient and fraud-proof. But trusting manual expense processes can lead to a massive loss of time and money along with the possibility of expense fraud, which can damage the reputation of consulting firms.
• Drain on valuable resources
Processing an expense report can take days and tie up valuable resources with tedious jobs that can be easily automated, such as verifying if the reimbursement amount requested is accurate and corresponds with the submitted receipts.
• Drop in employee morale
Consultants who visit clients on-site and stay on the road for months need to know they have their company’s backing. Employees may have to wait weeks to get reimbursed with poor expense management systems, which can affect morale.
• Policy enforcement challenges
Consulting firms often have employee hierarchies that allow ones at the top to access certain privileges, such as business class flights, expensive dinners, etc. When consulting firms depend on manual expense reporting, employees can easily bypass travel expense policy and make the company reimburse them for expenses that are not policy compliant.
• Policy enforcement challenges
The finance team will constantly have expense reports coming in from all sides, and these reports will be in the form of tiring spreadsheets. To make matters worse, consulting firms may find expense reports with receipts in multiple currencies, leading to delays in becoming audit ready.
Why implementing automation in expense management is mission-critical for consulting firms
• You can offer quick and accurate reimbursements across currencies
Even if your employees submit receipts in multiple currencies, good expense management software can automatically convert the values into your local currency and allow you to process reimbursement requests accurately and quickly without wasting time on currency conversions.
• Your employees can report expenses in real-time from anywhere in the world
Your finance team can keep track of employee expenses irrespective of the time difference with automated expense management software. Employees can click a picture of the receipt and upload it to the system. The software automatically prepares a report, allowing the management and the finance team to have 24×7 access to spending details.
• It makes your expense reporting process efficient
With the use of cloud-based expense reporting software, you can reduce the time for reimbursements to minutes. The software is designed to catch duplicate receipts, policy violations, and other issues. Also, you can automatically reimburse expenses and authorize cash advances per company policy, saving you time and resources.
• It helps you enforce company travel policies
If you are an environmentally conscious company, you can ensure your employees are traveling by train, economy class flight tickets, electric vehicles, etc., by making these requirements a part of your travel policy and using AI-based expense management software to only reimburse expenses that comply with your policies.
Besides, you can also ensure your employees are not utilizing company benefits designated for senior employees or top-level management.
• It lets you leverage the power of multi-level approvals
Multi-level approval workflows are incredibly hard to set up manually. They involve countless email chains and spreadsheets with specific permissions, which make the whole process unnecessarily tedious. Using an automated solution to manage your expenses, consulting firms can set up multi-level approval workflows for approving expenses, providing per diems, offering cash advances, etc.
• It integrates with accounting and payroll software
If you have intelligent enough expense management software, it can integrate with your accounting, human resource management software, and payroll software. This integration allows you to be audit ready always and reimburse employees automatically along with their salaries, ridding you of mindless data entry work.
Consulting firms must be on top of their business travel expenses to operate efficiently. Relying on spreadsheets may seem comfortable and familiar. Still, without a doubt, they are holding your firm back by weighing you down with unwanted costs, drops in productivity, and vulnerability to fraud.
Check out our expense management software to ensure your consulting firm can rise above all these issues and operate with minimal business travel costs and associated fraud.