Payment perspectives By Amon Cohen Share BTN Europe asked leading buyers and consultants from across Europe to describe the payment and expense journey they’ve been on over the past year, the main lessons they’ve learned and where they’re headed next SEBASTIAN VON STEIN, SENIOR TRAVEL MANAGER AND TRAVEL CONSULTANT, VON STEIN TRAVEL CONSULTING, GERMANYThe past 12 months The main change has been more companies moving their expense processes into the cloud. The most used expense tool is still Excel, which is awful for expense management. Connecting an expense management tool to your online booking tool reduces the time needed by travellers for claims by about 70 per cent compared with Excel or paper. Advice to buyers If you are changing your expense tool, make sure you update your reimbursement process too. So many times I’ve seen companies not think about this and then they have to wait a year because the IT department doesn’t have any time available, which means they have to pay the expense tool provider even though they’re not using it. Analyse your current processes very carefully.The next 12 months Some of my clients are using old expense management tools that are being discontinued, so I will be helping them change to a newer tool. SIMONE VIS, MANAGER BUSINESS SERVICES, SONION, NETHERLANDS The past 12 months I work closely with finance on payment and expense, which is currently automating several of its processes, including expense management. Benefits of the solution we are implementing so far include greatly reduced loss of receipts, more timely submission of expense claims, a much better overview of what and where people are spending, improved VAT reclaim and reduced risk of tax liability.Advice to buyers The classic one: cooperation. Get buy-in from the CFO as well as IT, work very closely with finance and listen to traveller feedback. The next 12 months We want to continue rolling out the expense solution as currently we have only implemented it with a test group. We will also look at the use of virtual cards for those who don’t travel enough to warrant having company credit cards. HELDER MENDES, GLOBAL TRAVEL PROGRAM MANAGER, NETJETS EUROPE, PORTUGALThe past 12 months NetJets is moving all airline ticket payment from individual corporate cards to a centrally billed business travel account. We expect to simplify the entire process from expensing to finance integration, saving on laborious manual processing. The BTA will remove inconvenience for the traveller, reduce manual processes in the back o ice and improve data accuracy. Advice to buyers Check all options: don’t necessarily go for the supplier waving the biggest rebates. Sometimes a large rebate means poor support, while insufficient data may result in higher total costs. Also, don’t rely solely on pre-defined automated reporting from your supplier. Take the raw data and make your own findings. The next 12 months Bedding in all our recent changes is going to keep us very busy for the next 12 months! MERETE MINNET, GLOBAL CATEGORY MANAGER, GLOBAL TRAVEL, FLSMIDTH, DENMARKThe past 12 months In the US we have changed from lodge card to individual corporate cards and we changed our card provider. It has given us a bigger rebate, but it has become more difficult to identify bookings made outside our travel management company. We have also started implementing an expense tool globally. We are in the test phase with a few users in Denmark, the US and India. Advice to buyers Get your TMC, payments and expense integrated in the same solution to make total cost of trip visible. The next 12 months I would like to reduce the number of payment suppliers so we can get more global benefits. Completing the rollout of our expense tool might be the opportunity to do this. JAMES FINNIE, GLOBAL TRAVEL RELATIONSHIP MANAGER, NES GLOBAL TALENT, UKThe past 12 months We’re a service business and we’re trying to remove pain points for our employees, so we’re moving towards virtual and lodge cards so they don’t have to file expenses. We’ve also introduced virtual cards to pay for non-staff travel. Advice to buyers Consult with payment providers to make sure their offering will work for you long-term and they understand your business and financial structure. The next 12 months We are trying to introduce a payment solution in the Middle East, which has its own challenges. We are also working with our finance team on getting a more automated process. GAVIN HARVEY, SENIOR GROUP BUYER SUPPLY MANAGEMENT, SODEXO, FRANCEThe past 12 months I am convinced the performance of businesses such as Sodexo is linked to the wellbeing of employees. That’s why we are focusing our travel and expense strategy on providing them with the best technologies to remove time-consuming, low value-added tasks. We introduced Rydoo Expense as a pilot in France and a survey found it improved quality of life at work for 84 per cent of employees. Users said the new tool made it easier to understand the travel and expenses policy and process expenses much faster. Advice to buyers Give your employees an innovative tool that helps them. The data it generates will prove invaluable for you and for finance and budget holders. The old adage of “if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it” is particularly relevant in travel: you can only measure if you have the right systems. The next 12 months We will continue to improve process and reporting, and roll-out our expense tool in more countries. YVONNE MOYA, DIRECTOR GLOBAL TRAVEL TRANSFORMATION, RANDSTAD, GERMANYThe past 12 months We are at the beginning of the global T&E journey. We have started basic data collection and created a strategy and defined our priorities. Advice to buyers Put a strategy in place, see what your real requirements are, do your due diligence and understand which supplier can really help you – not just with capabilities and commercials but also whether the supplier fits your culture and is willing and able to develop. The next 12 months Finding one or more global partners who can help us drive innovation in payments. And that means over and beyond introducing virtual payments for hotels. We will be challenging our current thinking of, for example, putting air spend through lodge cards. We are also thinking about the plastic card: do we really need it in future? OLGA KHORASANOVA, REGIONAL FACILITY MANAGER, NIELSEN, RUSSIAThe past 12 months Globally we are consolidating as much as possible with a single, integrated online booking tool/expense management provider and a single payment solution. Advice to buyers Create the right policy and concentrate on improving compliance.The next 12 months More cost savings and better compliance. MARIJKE POPPINK, OWNER/CORPORATE TRAVEL EXPERT, POPPINK TRVL PROJECTS, NETHERLANDSThe past 12 months For one of my clients, we have created a fully automated process starting from the travel request through to submitting an expense claim, expense approval and payment. We have also changed payment provider and introduced virtual payment next to our existing central business card. Advice to buyers When implementing an end-to-end solution, get the right people involved who understand your new process flow as well as their own internal processes, and have a professional project manager run the whole thing for you. Ensure all your providers know exactly what is expected from them right from the start and get their technical people involved, not the sales people. The next 12 months We will explore all means of usage for virtual cards as these seems to be the future, although they still need a lot of improvement.