With the Covid-19 virus slowly dying out, corporate travel is well and truly back in most organizations. The 2022 GBTA Business Travel Index Outlook states that “total spending on global business travel reached $697 billion in 2021, 5.5% above the pandemic-era low of 2020”. This shows that companies are more interested in investing in business travel.
Increased business travel means tons of travel request approvals for managers and finance teams to check and approve. Having a travel request approval workflow in place can streamline the process and make it more efficient. Do you want to know what travel request approval workflow can help your business? Keep reading the blog to know more about travel request approval workflow.
Also, Read: What are Business Travel Expenses?
What is a travel request approval workflow?
Every employee traveling for work must fill out a travel request form, which their reporting manager and finance team then sign off. This is where the travel request approval workflow comes into the picture.
The travel request workflow is a feature within the expense management software that allows you to set an approval system before advance money is credited to the employee’s account.
Why should businesses have a travel request approval workflow?
Most organizations have travel and expense policies that employees must adhere to. These expense policies are rules and guidelines that specify how and for what employees can spend money on.
But, there might be instances when your employees misunderstand the policies and accidentally spend money on non-policy-compliant expenses. In such cases, there’s not much the finance teams can do here, other than reimburse the employees.
Therefore, setting up a verification process for expense approval is always best. This is exactly where the expense approval workflows in expense management software come into play.
Quick Read: How to Reduce Business Travel Spending Costs?
What are the elements required for travel requests?
Here are the elements that are required for travel requests in an organization:
- Purpose of the travel
- Duration of the stay
- Total expenditure involved in the trip
- Mention other details in the comments, such as expenses incurred by a team member who joined you on the trip
Features of travel approval request
If the following conditions are met, the travel request will be automatically approved:
- If the requester specifies the estimated travel cost
- The estimated travel cost is less than the maximum travel cost allowed
- Travel advance requested by the requester is less than a predefined value
The travel request approval form will be sent to the manager or department head for approval, even if any one of the conditions mentioned above is not met.
After the approval, the request is sent to the finance team and the admin team for travel arrangements and advance.
Read also – A Guide to Travel and Expense Reports
How to create and streamline your travel request approval workflow?
Here’s how you can create and streamline your travel request approval workflow:
STEP 1: Set goals
First, identify and define the goals of your travel request approval workflow. Ensure all the stakeholders involved in the process are familiar with the new workflow and are on the same page.
STEP 2: Create a travel and expense approval process workflow
The next ideal step after you set your goal is to create an expense and travel approval process. Ensure you create all the steps employees must follow to receive the advance fund.
STEP 3: Specify mandatory information
The finance department in your firm will receive hundreds of approval requests daily. This means while going through these requests, the finance department might miss out on flagging requests that violate policies set by the firm.
That is why employees must mention only important information about expenses while requesting funds. This way, the approvers can quickly glance through the requests, and the finance team will know whether they should approve or reject them.
Here are some of the common line items that can be used in the request approval form:
- Trip purpose
- Duration of the trip
- Which location is the employee traveling to?
- Breakdown of expenses
- Extra cost
STEP 4: Set permissions
The next important thing to do is after creating the workflow is to assign stakeholders in each stage and set different levels of permission. In this step, define the roles and responsibilities for individuals based on their tasks. Also, according to the grade, define the responsibilities of the approving manager in the travel request workflow.
STEP 5: Implementation
After setting up goals, permissions and workflow, you should then implement the approval workflow process in your organization. After implementing the approval workflow process, employees can now initiate travel requests and the head of departments can approve them.
STEP 6: Improve the existing workflow
After the existing system works for a while, you will have enough insights to make the approval process faster and more efficient. Using these data, you can find the average approval time. The time employees take to file and other important information.
Also, Read: A Guide to Travel and Expense Management
Benefits of travel request approval workflow
1. Approvals on time
The entire process of planning and managing a trip is a long and stressful process. This means your employees need to spend hours looking for travel options, By automating the approval workflow, you can simplify the process. Your employees no longer have to run behind a manager or finance team for approvers.
2. Customize approval workflows
The approval process can differ from company to company. Using expense management software, you can customize the workflow based on your organization. You can set up multiple workflows within your organization, that will allow you to better manage your expense approval requests.
3. Increase compliance and reduce costs
A well-defined expense approval workflow will help in reducing non-policy-compliant expenses in your firm. You can now prevent expense frauds such as duplicate bills, overstated expenses, non-policy complaint items, manipulated invoices, etc.
4. Faster process
Most expense management software comes with mobile capabilities. This means approvers get notified of the travel requests sent by employees, which they can approve or reject fast. This reduces approval time and enhances the expense management process in your firm.
Quick Read: How do corporate travel management systems work?
What are the challenges of not using the travel request approval workflow?
If you do not have a travel request approval workflow in place, your company could face the following challenges:
- It isn’t easy to manage expenses with a traditional expense approval process where spreadsheets and emails are used
- The key information will not reach the relevant person if emails and spreadsheets are used
- Without a travel request approval workflow, you have no control over travel costs and could overshoot the budget
- Without proper approval and planning, there are chances for last-minute chaos
- Things are slow in a manual expense approval process
What to consider while creating a travel request approval workflow?
Here are some of the steps you must consider while you are creating your travel request approval workflow:
- The first and foremost thing that one must consider while creating a travel request approval workflow is where your employees will be requesting for funds. By educating the employees about the medium through which they will be requesting the fund, you can simplify the process
- Next, ensure employees provide the information that is needed to request funds
- Once the request is raised the managers will go through the requests raised by the employees to approve or reject the funds
- Define the time the finance team will take to transfer the funds. Also, you can mention the processing time
- Mention the account to which the money will be sent
Also, Read: 6 Ways to Improve Your Travel Policy Compliance
How Happay can help in travel approval workflow in your organization?
Here’s how Happay can streamline travel approval workflow in your organization:
1. Transparent travel approval process with one unified platform
Happay’s transparent approval process provides real-time updates on approvals and eliminates travel anxiety. At the same time, on the Happay app, managers clearly see policy violations and missed savings. Additionally, managers, with a single click, approve these requests.
2. Thorough automated policy checks and flagging of violations
Happay’s SMART AUDIT feature automatically checks policies and auto-flags violations, potential frauds, and manual errors. This automatically gives the finance team information on inflated, false, duplicate, and restricted claims.
3. Automated workflow for quick approvals and real-time updates
Using unique workflows based on teams, grades, amounts, exceptions, and deviations is simple. Happay also gives a complete trail of the approval process, including comments and actions.
Moreover, approvers get notified of expense reports within seconds via the web and mobile applications, and employees get real-time updates on their requests.
1. Why is travel expense workflow approval important?
Travel expense approval workflows can eliminate bottlenecks in the process, help boost efficiency and improve workplace productivity.
2. What is travel approval?
Travel approval is a procedure using which organizations enforce travel policies and prevent employees from overspending.
3. What is a travel request form?
A travel request form helps gather employee trip details and allows you to reject or approve their travel and reimburse their expenses.