While this year’s busiest expense day is behind us, the fiscal books are still open and it’s never too early to plan for next year. Here are some steps finance executives can take now to help their team tackle next year’s busiest expense day.
While the end of the year often means celebrating and enjoying quality time with family, it’s also crunch time for companies of all sizes. Employees are working against the clock to close sales deals, finalize projects and tie other loose ends before the year ends.
The same goes for finance teams, who are working quickly to process corporate and employee expenses before they close the books for 2017.
Concur recently examined our data to see just how busy expense management departments get this time of year. After reviewing the top 10 countries with the most expense activity, we discovered December 19 was the busiest day for expense submissions in 2016. On average, employees submitted 72 percent more expense reports than a regular day. More than 560,000 expense reports were processed on this day, equating to nearly 6.5 expense reports every second.
Looking more deeply into the data uncovers insights and trends that finance teams can use to their advantage during this time of year:
- Some industries feel the expense heat more than others. In 2016, employees in manufacturing and engineering submitted almost double the amount of expenses compared to an average day (99 percent and 97 percent increases, respectively). Other sectors like higher education and non-profit only had about 1.5 times as many expense reports than normal.
- Year-end parties and holiday celebrations could contribute to the spike in activity. There was a dramatic uptick in catering (99 percent increase) and entertainment (90 percent increase) expenses on the busiest expense day. In contrast, there was a smaller increase in travel-related expense categories such as airfare and ancillary fees and mileage, which were up 60 percent and 49 percent, respectively. This is surprising, since the busiest business travel season of the year is about a month prior.
- Monday was the busiest day of the week for report submissions in the U.S. The top three busiest expense days in the U.S. in 2016 all landed on Mondays in the final quarter of the year (Dec. 19, Oct. 31 and Nov. 28).
While this year’s busiest expense day is behind us, the fiscal books are still open and it’s never too early to plan for next year.
Here are some steps finance executives can take now to help their team tackle next year’s busiest expense day:
- Audit current operations. An outdated expense management system can cause inaccuracies and errors. On a regular basis, finance teams should take a close look at their current procedures to identify any areas that should be fixed or updated. This goes for small businesses too- while many small companies may not have a documented expense process, there’s often an ‘implied’ way of doing things. Doing a thorough audit can save money and time in the long run.
- Create a clear, simple expense management policy. The easier a policy is to understand, the easier it is for employees to follow. When creating policies, finance leaders should ensure they’re fair and clear, use concise terms and avoid unnecessary jargon. Every time a policy is updated, it should be distributed internally so employees are aware of the latest changes.
- Consider technology to streamline processes. The right tools can dramatically transform the expense management process for everyone involved. Executives should consider solutions that automatically populate expense line items based on travel and credit card data and aggregate that data into reports to help finance teams uncover insights and drive savings. For small businesses especially, finance leaders should look for technology that can easily scale alongside the company.
Christal Bemont is SVP & GM of the Small, Midsized and Nationals business unit at Concur.•