A new survey of business financial leaders shows that, while nearly half of respondents (46%) increased corporate card usage over the past year, only 2% have increased adoption of expense management software, creating compliance and visibility challenges for employees and finance teams. Other findings show perennial expense management pain points such as laborious month-end closes, minimal user support and policy confusion reemerging YoY amidst a dynamic work landscape and increase in corporate travel.
This is according to the results of the fifth annual Expense Management Trends Survey, gathering data from over 200 finance and accounting professionals nationwide. The survey was conducted by Center, a software provider of corporate card, travel, and employee expense management solutions.
Corporate Card Usage Increases While Adoption of Expense Management Software Lags Behind
While SMEs continue to increase corporate card usage, data from Center’s survey shows that adoption of expense management software remains nearly at a standstill. These findings suggest that without the increased use of software to support rising corporate card usage, employees and finance teams will continue to battle disjointed processes, labor intensive reporting, and manual reconciliation, thwarting productivity and output.
- Use of expense management software has lingered between 39-47% since 2021.
- Respondents report the top three expense management challenges in 2024 are:
- Time spent filling out expense reports (46%)
- Expense policy support/helping users understand and follow expense processes (43%)
- Credit card reconciliation (42%)
- The average number of days reported to close the books was 14 days, up from last year.
Decentralized Workforces and Business Travel Resurgence Reinforce Need For Visibility and Control
The work landscape in 2024 remains predominantly decentralized. Upwork reports that 32.6 million Americans will work remotely by 2025; a significant 22% of the total workforce. Increased business travel adds another layer of complexity to expense management with GBTA forecasting that corporate travel is expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2024. Dispersed workforces and corporate travel create ample opportunity for spend leakage without the proper policies and tools in place that track and control employee spend.
- 40% of respondents report spending between $250K-1M on corporate travel, a 30% increase within this spend range YoY.
- An overwhelming majority of respondents (91%) expect travel spend to stay the same or increase.
- 64% of respondents report leakage, up from 57% last year.
Disconnect Between Spend Behaviors and Expense Policies Create Compliance Challenges
Findings revealed incongruence between the checks and balances of SME employee spend. While respondents observed more booking happening off platform, only 32% have introduced stricter policies as a result. With confusion around policy emerging as a major challenge in 2024, businesses are signaling a need for clearer processes and policies. Software that unifies travel and day-to-day expenses enables complete visibility by automating policy application. Guardrails ensure fast approvals and quick out-of-policy spend flags, providing finance teams with the controls and data needed for optimal decision making while also improving the employee experience.
- Despite awareness of the dynamic macro-environment, fewer companies surveyed report having a written, well-maintained policy (39%) than in previous years with that number decreasing 10% from two years ago.
- Employee understanding (45%) and awareness (29%) continue to be the highest ranked hurdles in policy compliance.
- One-third of respondents report an out of date policy and one-fifth (22%) report no policy in writing.
The State of Travel and Expense Management in 2024
Download the full 2024 Travel and Expense Management Trends report here. To request a media interview with a Center executive, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.