Travel Planning: Do You Have All That You Need? |

Travel planning can be quite complex. There are many areas in which you will need to insure that you have what you need. It can be business travel or recreational. The point is that you’ll need to pull together everything that you need and keep it with you. This can be quite difficult especially in those last minutes before you leave. There is just too much to do and who knows what you’ll forget.

To help you with your travel plans, here are some key elements that you should consider.

o Make sure to first plan for your transportation. Gather your information for air line tickets, for transportation to the airport, and then transportation once you arrive at your destination. You’ll need easy assess to your flight numbers, your reservation numbers and your credit cards so that these elements can go easily.

o Next, consider your hotel stay. What elements do you need here? You’ll need to keep track of your hotel’s location, the reservation numbers and your credit card information for them. This will help you to get in quickly.

o You should also plan to keep identification close by at all times.

o Planning to assess your email while away? Need to check your bank information while you are out of town? You should also consider traveling with your user identification and password information for all of the accounts you are likely to tap into.

o Don’t forget to take with you a list of important people and their phone numbers. You never know when you’ll need to call on your neighbor to check out the house or the phone number to your pediatrician in case a child gets sick.

When you take the time to organize these elements, your traveling planning is easier to keep track of. You can rest easier when you know that everything that you need is carefully organized just in case you need to access it.

7 Benefits T&E Expense Management Software Must Deliver for Business Managers |

We are living on the cutting edge of Web 2.0 technologies. But we are also facing a number of economic uncertainties on a global scale.

These two factors generate new demands on T&E expense management software because companies are struggling to do more with less. The margins are thin with no room for error or waste.

The companies are therefore trying to cut down their business travel expenses without, however, sacrificing anything from the way they file, manage and report their data. If anything, they are asking for more granularity, modularity and control without increasing their IT overhead.

So here is what the ideal T&E software of the future should look like to cater to an increasingly choosy and sophisticated clientele base:

1) Multi-Policy Capability. Most companies today do not have a clear business travel policy in writing. Even when they do, their T&E software more often than not is designed for a single “default” policy that applies across the board, from the CEO to the graphic designer in the multimedia department.

A great T&E software would allow the managers to create different project accounts and then match the expense reports against different policies entered into the system. Why should the Chairwoman of the Board be limited to the same room or rental car allowance as the junior sales engineer who joined the company just a week earlier?

2) Open-Ended Horizontal Integration. The T&E software of the future must be able to manage not only the meals, hotel, air and rental car expenses like most traditional T&E systems do but other type of expenses as well like Internet and web-related expenses, railway and sea travels, training expenses, professional fees, and even medical expenses, etc.

The program should be open-ended enough to accommodate any and all expense categories without sacrificing anything from scalability or reliability.

3) Vertical Modularity. The ideal T&E software should be modular enough to allow the managers the select their own level of vertical integration in handling their business travel accounts.

For example, at the one end of the vertical integration spectrum should be the T&E expense submission and reporting application alone.

At the other end, the program should be able to hook up with any hotel or car rental booking program, or credit card module, on the one hand, and the company’s Accounts Payable or Payroll modules, on the other.

With a software like that, a company would not have to pay for any unnecessary modules since the program does not come as a “take it or leave it” chunk.

Why should, for example, a company pay an expensive hotel-air-car booking module if all travel arrangements are already made in-house? If a client wants just the bare-bones T&E functions, she should be able to get only that and save money.

4) Platform Independence. The ideal T&E software should be platform agnostic. That is, it should be able to run not only on any OS (Windows, Mac, Linux) but should be accessible with any device ranging from the traditional desk-tops to PDAs and iPhones.

It should be browser agnostic as well (IE, Firefox, Safari) so that it can be accessed through the Internet from any spot on earth.

5) Zero Local IT Overhead. The T&E software of the future should eliminate the need to buy expensive software and hardware and maintain them locally. There should be need to download any security updates or patches and no need to hire a team of highly paid engineers just to keep the T&E servers running properly 24×7.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution delivers that promise by shifting all IT responsibilities to the vendor. That’s why, if the data security issue is addressed and resolved properly, an ideal T&E software will probably be delivered as an SaaS product over the Internet.

6) Audit-Ready Compliance Capability. We are living in a post Sarbanes-Oxley world in which all publicly owned financial institutions in the United States are mandated to document their business transactions. Since under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 company managers are personally liable for unauthorized and improper expenditures in their departments, they take the need for consistent, secure and systematic documentation very seriously.

A great T&E software must thus generate detailed reports showing which travel requests were approved or denied when and by which supervisor on the basis of which policy, etc.

7) Secure, Unique and Time-Stamped Tagging. It must also tag each transaction (including T&E related e-mail requests, expense filings, faxed receipts, etc.) with an encrypted, unique and time-stamped code to prevent fraud and post-facto alterations.