But you don’t have to go all Elmer Fudd and shoot everything in sight …
Even though it would appear to be the case that this is precisely what some bloggers would have you do. A few weeks ago we published a two-part piece on It’s Conference Season And That Means it’s Travel Season on why — even though it’s very, very, very important to get your Travel and Expense spend under control — it’s not Procurement’s job to question the validity of the spend or whether or not it aligns with organizational goals put in place. That’s the C-Suite’s job because, when it comes to T&E, it’s not always about immediately measurable financial ROI.
However, last week saw yet another post over on CPO Rising on T&E, which purported to give you the three goals that every travel and expense management program must achieve which, like the previous post, illustrated two of the right things to be doing and one potentially wrong thing because, doing it could be akin to shooting yourself in the foot. Presumably that is not something you want to do?
The post was right in theory when it said that you should strive for alignment between the travel and expense management program and both procurement and finance, but only right in practice if alignment is appropriately defined. According to the author, alignment is achieved when three goals are achieved. The first two goals, which should be achieved, were:
- Linked capabilities that can capture all booking options which is important because no spend, and no relevant detail, should be lost and
- Seamless, repeatable processes that result in “straight-through” expense-processing and the ultimate elimination of manual intervention for any expense that does not require manual intervention
because once you see where the spend is going and what the spend should be, and put the right rules in place, there’s no point in wasting a whole lot of manual effort on it.
And the third goal, which should never, ever be pursued without proper definitions was:
- Pure alignment between the travel and expense management program and both procurement and finance objectives
Why? Because pure alignment dictates that an exception to the rule is never allowed, and there will always be situations during travel where the rules need to be relaxed, and full adherence to the objectives defined in the author’s previous post means that no T&E without an immediate financial return is justified. We already did a two-part rant on why that is not the case (in parts I and II), but it seems we have to remind you of the importance of controlling spend and keeping departments on budget, and the importance of keeping your hands off of policy.
Track, measure, report, and process efficiently — but stay out of policy. The minute you over-step your bounds, the minute the other departments turn against you. And that’s not what you want.