Monday, June 30, 2014

Employees Business Travels and Pleasures in One

Expense management during business trips is complicated enough already. However, keeping figures may become even more challenging in the future, as it seems that a large portion of business travelers have become accustomed to mixing personal time into their business trip schedules.

A recent report from The New York Times detailed how "some play on a trip for work," quoting a number of prominent business travelers who detailed how they like to spend time on personal trips and sightseeing, for example, while out on company business trips.

Such prospects could throw a wrench into a company's expense management plans. Workers may be more likely to violate company expense policies if they're mixing personal costs with business costs, which would necessitate more stringent expense reporting policies. Nick Vournakis, senior vice president at Carlson Wagonlit Travel, a travel management company, for example, explained the practice of mixing personal trips with business trips has been picking up significantly and recently.

"This is a trend we've seen pick up for the business traveler over the last several years...blending leisure and business as a way to make the throes of business travel a little bit more palatable, a little bit more acceptable," he told the news source. Lorraine Sileo, vice president of research for PhoCusWright, further detailed how pervasive the practice has become. She noted that 47 percent of all American business travelers added at least one leisure day to one of their business trips during 2011. Businesses that hope to avoid sharing the brunt of the cost for these personal days would do well to employ automated expense reporting technology, such as that offered by Certify, to ensure that they're not reimbursing any out-of-policy personally-incurred expenses on behalf of their employees.

Sileo went on to explain that businesses that do not enforce strict travel policies are most likely to see their employees add leisure days on their business trip - so if a company is against the practice, it would do well to tighten up its traveling policy.

Be Thankful to Automated Expense Reporting

Having your employees file expense reports is necessary on a monthly basis, at least - but oh, what a hassle it is. Unless you use automated expense reporting, then this process is going to eat up hours upon hours of work time. Accountants have to cross-reference company policy and verify everything, employees have to organize all their documents and put together the report itself. There's a way all these processes can be done in a matter of moments - with automated expense reporting technology, like Certify. Here are five different things that Certify will eliminate on behalf of your business, should you make the decision to switch over to automated expense reporting.

No more receipts. Employees won't have to return home from their business trips with a folder full of receipts any longer. Our software allows for employees to simply take pictures of their receipts with a smartphone, and then upload those images into your company's cloud database, managed by Certify. Better yet, Certify will automatically analyze these receipts, and pull all of the necessary information off of them - and then use it to build the expense report itself for your employees. Next time they get a nice dinner during a business trip, they won't have to worry about forgetting to pocket the receipt on the way out.

No more spreadsheets, no more pen and paper. As a result, your employees won't have to build their expense reports via spreadsheet programs or pen and paper - it will all be done for them automatically. That allows for a complete elimination of all mistakes made due to data entry, first off. It also saves tons of time for both your employees and your accountants. That's time that they can now reinvest into your company, into tasks that more directly demand their expertise.

No more policy violations. Here's another problem that Certify wipes off the map completely: policy violations. These happen at every company that isn't using digital automated expense report software. An employee reports an expense for reimbursement that's a bit higher than the company likes or allows for, but they reimburse it anyway. These conflicts won't crop up with Certify: our system internalizes your company policy as soon as you implement it, and it will flag all costs reported by employees that violate that policy. Before any of your workers will be able to send an out-of-policy cost to the accounting team, our program will mark it and ask the employee to make an adjustment.

No more unexpected expenses at the end of the month. Another benefit offered by Certify is that managers and executives can watch costs as they occur, practically in real-time. As soon as the receipt image is uploaded to the database, those overseeing the company's account will have access to it. For smaller businesses, this can be an invaluable tool - you'll never again be caught off guard by a surprisingly large reimbursement need at the end of a business trip or month. Instead, you'll be able to see the large costs just as they occur, and then augment your strategy as is necessary as a result. No more hassle. At the end of the day, what Certify offers - more than any one specific feature - is endless convenience. All these features add up to an office where no complications ever occur regarding business trip costs, expense reports, or reimbursements. That'll make life easier for people at every single level of your company - and probably save you some money, too.

Common Business Travel Problems Encountered

Business travelers face a number of complications when they're on the road. Sometimes these issues are inconveniences, and sometimes they can even cause safety hazards. One fact is sure: when individuals go out on business trips, they're not going on the road for the sake of leisure. They can expect to work hard, and be faced with many challenges.

As a result, the Global Business Travel Association recently conducted a survey that aimed to track the top concerns, safety hazards and inconveniences that are faced by business travelers when they're out on the road. The company then collected the responses and averaged out the top concerns faced by travelers - not including expense management or other financial concerns - when they're out on the road. The most-often identified mishaps and inconveniences are listed below:

54 percent of travelers identified weather delays as a concern 48 percent identified delayed flight and train departures as a concern 40 percent identified airplane incidents - such as mechanical issues - as a concern

16 percent identified missing their connecting flight as a concern "Delays, cancelations and mechanical issues are an unfortunate, unpredictable aspect of business travel," said Joseph Bates, vice president of research at the firm. "Travel managers face all of these challenges and leading companies are working to address these issues. This research looks to provide travel managers with data that can help them uncover new methods and polices to ease stress for their business travelers." One such change that could help ease stress for business travelers would be the implementation of automated expense reporting technology. As flight delays, hotel booking changes and other factors alter the costs of a given business trip, the traveler would have to log and analyze every increase and decrease to ensure that they're still in compliance with company policy. With the help of digital expense reporting technology, such as the program offered by Certify, these changes would be entirely automated, with the employee notified if the new altered costs now violate company policy. That gives them more time to focus on the trip, instead of their travel expense report - minimizing the effect of the mishap.

Safety should always be a priority during business trips In addition to inconvenient mishaps, the GBTA study also investigated the many safety risks that business travelers are exposed to while out on the road for their companies. Travelers identified the below-listed risks as their top concerns, health wise, while they're out on the road:

50 percent of corporate travelers identified the location of their hotel was a top concern 36 percent identified airline safety records as a concern 35 percent identified safety of ground-based transportation as a concern 34 percent identified ignorance as to who they should call in case of emergency as a concern

Safety concerns may be of an even higher importance to business travelers than the possibility of mishaps such as flight delays and unplanned changes in hotel bookings. That's because, according to the GBTA findings, 46 percent of all respondents are not provided travel insurance by their company, and also have not procured such coverage for themselves via an outside agency.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Using Expense Management Software in Assisting Team Members

A company may hire team members worldwide, and each of these professionals could serve an important role within an organization. As such, employees might need to make purchases on the go, but there can sometimes be challenges that these workers could encounter.

For example, a business professional overseas may use a different currency to buy specific items. While these products are essential for this staff member to perform work, he or she may struggle if companies cannot account for various currencies in their expense reporting processes. Certify is incredibly valuable for international organizations because it enables them to handle multiple currencies with ease. This expense reporting solution provides real-time exchange rate calculations for 140 currencies, which makes it worthwhile for businesses that want to support team members around the globe.

An expense reporting solution that recognizes cultural preferences Each employee may have his or her own preferences for formatting numbers, entering dates or completing other procedures. With Certify, company leaders can streamline their expense reporting processes, making it easier for workers to interact with a system that uses familiar formatting. Certify automatically applies cultural preferences at the user level based on his or her browser settings. After a worker starts using the expense reporting software, he or she will not have to worry about configuring it. Instead, Certify acts quickly to adjust to each employee's preferences, which can reduce the amount of time it takes him or her to submit expense reports to a supervisor.

Expense reporting software that supports multiple languages A global organization may employ staff members who speak different languages. Team members could submit expense reports in their own languages as well, and thankfully, Certify is designed to help these business professionals.

By using Certify, workers can select a desired language when they set up their accounts. There are 64 languages to choose from, and the preferred language can be changed at any time.

Meanwhile, Certify's multiple language capability uses advanced machine language translation that further streamlines the expense reporting process for businesses. Each user can take advantage of the software to enhance automatic translations with specific localizations and develop quality expense reports at all times.

Monday, June 23, 2014

What Expenses need to be tracked under the Sunshine Act?

Under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, drug and medical device suppliers nationwide must track specific expenses. However, many firms might be unfamiliar with the regulation or its conditions, which can make it nearly impossible to avoid compliance issues.

A well-informed business operator could help his or her firm stay on track with its operating costs. Even a minor expenditure can have far-flung effects on a company, especially for a drug or medical device provider that must comply with the Sunshine Act.

With state-of-the-art receipt management software from Certify, a firm could prevent expense reporting errors. Sunshine Act compliance software may benefit both big and small firms, enabling these companies to manage their operating expenses for extended periods of time.

Monitoring expenses under the Sunshine Act The American Medical Association's Jeremy Lazarus points out that the Sunshine Act helps ensure transparency in physicians' interactions with members of the pharmaceutical, biologic and medical device industries. Because the regulation features steep penalties, however, companies are taking steps to ensure that they manage their expenses accordingly.

Under the Sunshine Act, any transfers of value or payments to physicians and hospitals greater than $10 must be reported to the federal government. These expenses include consulting fees, research costs and much more, and all contributions exceeding $100 will be published on a public website as well.

Meanwhile, a business that ignores the Sunshine Act may receive annual fines up to $1 million. Drug and medical device manufacturers can prevent compliance problems, however, if they invest in expense reporting platforms.

A high-quality Sunshine Act compliance solution To navigate the Sunshine Act, a firm can rely on Certify's high-quality compliance software. This platform allows companies to track expenses quickly and effectively, enabling these businesses to submit timely, accurate reports to the federal government. Certify's innovative expense management system makes it easy for employees to send error-free materials to managers. Additionally, supervisors can use the solution to report on all National Provider Identifier data by depending on a web-based platform.

On-the-go functionality also makes Certify's Sunshine Act compliance solution a first-rate choice for businesses of all sizes. Certify users can link multiple physicians to a single expense, create federally required reports and perform other tasks on their smartphones and tablets.

The Sunshine Act may seem confusing at first, but Certify is incredibly valuable to firms that must comply with this regulation. In fact, an investment in this expense reporting solution gives team members access to top-notch tools that may help them for years to come.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Finding the Best Time Making Travel Bookings

All traveling employees and managers worry about the travel costs that add up on a company's expense reports. Yet very few likely consider the effect that the time-of-day has on when they should book their travel accommodations. One recent report shows that prices fluctuate regularly at airliners - and that different times of day may be much better than others.

Skrift, citing data from Yapta, reported that more than 20 percent of all price-drops occurring at airlines in a given week occur during off business hours on Tuesday. Off hours on Wednesday followed close behind, accounting for 19 percent of all drops, offering savvy bookers an insight as to when they should be booking their seats. The study from Yapta also found that negotiated fares dropped more frequently than fares in any other class, accounting for 73 percent of price drops.

"Sometimes negotiated rates can open in a different class of service, which would open an opportunity for the company to save," a Yapta spokesperson told Skrift. "Also, often times companies will simply negotiate a discount off of the public fare."

Only 14 percent of all price drops took place on Saturday and Sunday combined, so clearly the weekend is not the right time to be looking for low airline prices. Some may think that these savings are insignificant, but the difference adds up on a corporate expense report: according to the study, the average savings for a ticket under $500 was $58, and the average savings for a ticket priced at more than $500 was $306.

"Just because corporations have negotiated fares with their preferred airlines doesn't mean these corporations don't have to be vigilant about carriers lowering their fares," wrote Dennis Schaal, of Skrift. "A lack of vigilance about these price drops means businesses are wasting money, and leaving themselves open to charges of wastefulness to foes in the corporation."

Another way to keep travel costs down: go to cities with low taxes. There's another factor that can have a surprisingly significant effect on the overall amount that your employees request for reimbursements on their expense reports: Taxes. A recent Fox News report, citing information from a Global Business Travel Association study, listed the top ten cities for tax costs.

The study took into consideration the amounts added on top of average car rental, restaurant and hotel booking expenses. The list is reproduced below. Clearly, executives need to know - if you send employees to one of these cities, you can expect a heftier expense report than usual to come back with them.