Employees of Hong Kong companies spend an inordinate amount of time – equal to about HK$1.2 billion (US$154 million) annually – wrestling with travel and entertainment (T&E) expense claims.
And that’s just one aspect of a costly T&E expense management problem for Hong Kong companies that includes out-of-policy travel booking, missing or lost receipts, inefficient processes and manual systems that provide little to no visibility or control over the billions spent each year on T&E expenses.
According to the research results found by Ipsos, 88% of the total sample uses excel or paper form for collating T&E claims. This suggests that automated solutions are still uncommon among Hong Kong companies. This means that most organizations not only spend far too much time manually processing T&E expense claims, but also have little to no visibility into the resulting spend, making it difficult to understand how their T&E budgets are being managed.
Commissioned by Concur, the research also found that the account payable staff in the Hong Kong companies stated that among the errors when processing T&E claims, 65% was due to no receipt. 67% of the staff agrees that the main cause for errors is the manual process which is prone to human error.
As for business travelers, it takes them 2.6 weeks to complete the whole claim process from filing to receiving payment.
Corresponding to what the account payable staff have mentioned, missing receipt (44%) is the most often encountered difficulty. Missing receipts can lead to claim rejections, and 26% of these travelers experience such incidents.
The study also finds that 80% of the account payable staff report errors when processing T&E claims, while 10% of the account payable staff believe the main cause for errors in T&E claims is employees trying to claim for things they are not entitled to.
In addition to the financial considerations and inconvenience, the major issue of encountering errors is the annoyance created between account department and claimants.
According to the survey, a typical traveler takes 0.9 day to submit 3 claims, total 27 claim items a month. Key claim items include meals (81%), transportation (78%), accommodation (68%) and communication (67%).
The travelers receipt issues arise from forgetting to take a receipt (52%), or having no receipt at all (50%). More than half (56%) of the travelers require approval for traveling and more than 25% require multiple approvals.
“Our research show that the current manual processes can cause frustration to both business travelers and the people who manage the expense claim process," says Cara Lai, Associate Director, Ipsos Hong Kong. "It would seem wise for Hong Kong businesses to look for a more efficient approach to save the time and resources wasted in documenting, submitting and approving T&E expense claims.”
Concur recommends Hong Kong businesses consider deploying a cloud-based T&E expense management solution in order to create efficiency and manage costs.
A cloud-based solution provides flexibility with minimal upfront, according to Concur. With the addition of mobile capabilities, both travelers and approvers can utilize the service on the go.
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