The road less travelled

Organisations need now, more than ever before, to have greater visibility to identify where they can improve performance and eliminate waste

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At a time when the chaos of the world economic turmoil has hit every business sector, disoriented business leaders are all searching for the same path out of recession. Businesses leaders are striving to find new ways to cut expenditure. After payroll, travel and expense (T&E) is the second largest controllable cost for most businesses.

With all signs pointing to T&E spend continuing to grow, largely due to market factors such as: globalisation, mergers and acquisitions and the spiralling costs of travel, the knee jerk reaction for many organisations has been to freeze travel spend. However if employees need to travel to generate revenue, should business travel be viewed as an investment and not as a cost? Are there alternatives, more effective ways of reducing spend in this category? Meridian Global Service’s advice to those at the helm is; take note of your current coordinates and look as far as you can into the distance before making any commitment as ultimately the path you choose will make all the difference.

Meridian believes companies must address the challenge of how to best manage their T&E spend and optimise savings by examining the processes they already have in place. Industry research has shown that administration and processing of T&E is a significant contributor to the overall T&E spend, best practice can more than half this cost, delivering millions of dollars of savings to the bottom line. While technology is a key enabler, sole reliance on IT can lead to systematic over claiming of spend as well as reduced adherence to corporate travel policies. The limitations of technology are compounded by the fact that paper receipts are critical and central to the T&E lifecycle.

Expense Management Systems do a great job of letting travelling employees file their expenses quickly and efficiently. However, gaining complete control over an organisation’s travel expenses requires two additional crucial tasks that an EMS cannot handle: First is to audit paper expense receipts for expense claim accuracy and travel policy compliance; the second is to analyse those same receipts to maximise VAT recovery. By taking those two additional steps, which is what Meridian’s Expenseflo service uniquely does, you can save a significant percentage on your total travel bill.

So instead of utilising a single Expense Management System the Expenseflo service will break it up into three units designed to maximise savings:

1. Expense management system Expenseflo EMS (or third party provider)

2. Expense receipts auditing Expeneflo Expense Audit

3. VAT Recovery Expenseflo VAT Recovery

Expenseflo Service Complete Expense Management
Expenseflo turns a bureaucratic nightmare into a dream solution. Paper expense invoices are a nuisance for every organisation, but you can’t get rid of them: many national tax authorities still insist on seeing them. Expenseflo makes that paper work. Meridian will take all the invoices off your hands (and can even scan and archive them for you) and then they extract value from the paper by using it to check your employees’ expense claims as well as recover your VAT.

It means Meridian aren’t just here to create process savings for your organisation; we reduce your travel costs too. Expenseflo EMS allows corporate travellers to submit expenses online, and for their line managers to approve reimbursement with a single click

Why finance directors like Expenseflo Minimises expense-handling process costs

– Provides full reporting of expenses
– Maximises employee expense compliance
– Integrates seamlessly with card provider, ERP and accounts payable systems
– Maximises VAT recovery, a business in which Meridian is the world leader
– Why travel managers like Expenseflo
– Optimises compliance with preferred supplier policy
– Provides full spending data to aid supplier negotiations
– Removes the emotion from enforcing travel policy
– Integrates seamlessly with corporate travel self-booking tools
-Why business travellers like Expenseflo
– Reduced time for filing expense claims
– Reduced time for approving and reimbursing expenses
– Greater clarity about which expenses are acceptable and which aren’t (in our experience, most employees happily follow the rules so long as they know what they are).

Germany probably has more complicated laws governing expense claims especially per diems than any other country. It is often said that if an expense management system works there, it will work anywhere. Expenseflo EMS passes that test. It works in Germany, it works in the UK, it works in the USA and many other countries. It was not originally designed for one market, then adapted piecemeal in the hope it might be good enough elsewhere.

Expenseflo EMS has been developed as a true multinational product both multi-lingual and multi-currency.

Meridian’s expense management system, Expenseflo EMS, is the best on the market. However, Meridian recognise many companies already have an expense management system and don’t want to change. That’s not a problem. Meridian can plug any expense management system (or more than one) of your choice into Expenseflo, Expense Audit and Expenseflo VAT Recovery so you can get the full benefit of complete expense management.

In terms of expense audits one expense claim in eight is wrong. Meridian’s Expenseflo Expense Audit experts can check every one of your business travellers’ expense receipts against their expense claims for accuracy and policy compliance. Meridian find that on average one expense claim in eight needs amending. Some errors are accidental, some deliberate. Either way, they cost your company big money. The results speak for themselves. When one major European manufacturer signed up for Expenseflo Expense Audit, Meridian’s audit team found €3.5m of savings in €63m of submitted expenses. Each year, approximately 15,000 companies worldwide send Meridian their travellers’ receipts to recover the VAT on them. Since Meridian is looking at all that paper for you anyway, why not let Expenseflo audit those same receipts for accuracy and policy compliance?

The final stage of the Expenseflo complete travel management system is Meridian’s world-leading VAT recovery process. Meridian helps companies maximise their local and foreign VAT claims. It is estimated that companies could reduce their travel budgets by four percent if they recovered all applicable VAT. Meridian experts check every receipt to identify all incurred local and foreign VAT. Local VAT is reported back to the client and uploaded directly to the client’s ERP or other financial accounting package.

Foreign VAT is claimed from the relevant foreign authorities on behalf of the client and handled from submission to refund. However, it is not as easy as it sounds. That’s why the European Commission reckons more than half of major corporations fail to recover VAT incurred on foreign trips and the figure for smaller businesses is even higher. It’s estimated that €5bn of potential refunds go unrecovered in the EU alone each year.

The reason many companies fail to recover their VAT is that it is time-consuming, highly technical and very easy to get wrong. VAT claims have to be presented to each country’s tax authorities in completely different ways with all original receipts present and correct. Each country also has different rules about what VAT is recoverable, with plenty of details to trip you up, like whether a meal was for clients or for colleagues only.

We all know that Expense Management Systems do an excellent job of letting your travelling employees file their expenses swiftly and efficiently. However Meridian’s Expenseflo service takes this much, much further providing a complete solution, including in-depth receipts analysis and more, ensuring full travel policy compliance and maximum VAT recovery. We will maximise your company’s savings and ensure you get more from your travel budget, which in the long run will make the difference.

For more information contact Adam Smith, Commercial Director, Tel: +44 (0) 208 601 4621 or email