A Case Study on Implementation of TravelGrid
Company Name: Piaggio Vehicles Pvt. Ltd
The purpose of this case study is to highlight the implementation of TravelGrid, a Travel and Expense Management Solution for Piaggio Vehicle Private Limited (hereinafter referred to as “PVPL”). This document comprehensively covers the various facets of automation of travel process, challenges faced in the travel industries with paper-based approach, how to mitigate the problems faced in the manually driven travel process in an organization. The objective of this document is to provide a lucid picture on the scope of automation and solving various business problems pertaining to Travel and Expense Management case by case such as submission of travel request, processing the tickets, arranging cabs/hotels or submission of travel expenses.
Holistically, TravelGrid is a one-stop solution, which optimizes the following aspects:
- Time & Data Management
- Process Adherence
- Prevention of Human Errors
- Less Paper Work
- Data Manipulation
- Report Generation
- Data Reconciliation
- Information Security
- Cost Savings
Travel is the third largest expense on a company budget after material and payroll. Managing Travel and Expenses have always been a daunting task for a medium and large scale corporates, especially when the entire system is driven by a manual process. Laborious methodologies are practiced to enforce tight control on travel spends, maintaining piles of documents pertaining to bills, invoices and tickets, streamlining approval process, avoiding fraudulent transactions etc. Moreover, a smooth processing of Travel Request and expense settlement solely depends on how well the multiple departments work in tandem such as Travel Approvers, Travel Desk, Finance and Travel Agents.
A subtle retarded performance by one of the respective departments will result in the surge of travel spends. A delay of five days in a travel approval can push up airfare costs by 10% according to the study. A delay in the settlement of expenses incurred by an employee leads to indefinite escalations making the top notch associates intervene and clear the mess, hence, lot of efforts in terms of time and money will be spent causing the raise of secondary expenditures.
How to prevent these anomalies? Automation comes to rescue. With the advent of cutting edge technologies, lot of analytical tools have emerged in the market which have business intelligence feature out of the box. Typically, these tools help the stakeholders to be prudent and take wise decision with regard to cost cutting measures. By harnessing the power of business intelligent reports, a company can drastically reduce its man power and increase the efficiency in terms of business output and performance.
In a nutshell, the data pertaining to analytical reports are apparently fed from the integrated tools which automate the entire process end to end. One such tool, which can end to end automate the entire travel and expense process is TravelGrid.
PVPL has 1000+ travels per month. Approximately, 30% of travels are by Air and the rest by Taxies, which are mostly used for intra city travels.
The entire travel process was driven manually. The following processes were managed manually via email as a communication medium:
- Raising a Travel Request by a traveler.
- Approving the Travel Request by the respective managers.
- Requesting for flight tickets from Travel Agents.
- Requesting a Cab for inter and intra city travels from Travel Desk department.
- 5. Expenses settled when an employee submits all the hard copies of the bills to the finance team. These bills are later checked for discrepancies, one by one and processed further in SAP.
The toughest challenge was the data management of the entire travel. Since most of the communications were through emails and some might have been in the form of hard copy application forms, generating reports would be a cumbersome task, lot of man power was utilized to perform the following tasks:
- Checking whether the traveler has violated any PVPL travel policies. Managers or Accountants have to juxtapose PVPL policy documents against each Travel Requests or Travel Expense to validate the policy violation.
- Revisiting / processing unapproved travel requests was a biggest challenge. Quite often, travel requests will remain unapproved due to unavailability of the Managers. This is because, either the manager has left the organization or he / she is out of station and unable to approve the travel request due to some reason. Lot of follow-ups are required in getting these requests processed and sometimes higher officials have to intervene to clear the same.
- Travel Desk team had a tough job in managing the booking requests. When a travel request is raised, Travel Desk team has two major activities. Firstly, any Air ticket request has to be forwarded to the Travel Agents, get the tickets booked and maintain the booking details in a spreadsheet. Secondly, any Taxi request for inter / intra city travel, Travel Desk team has to touch base with Taxi Agency which is tied up with PVPL, book the taxi and note the booking information in a spreadsheet. This was a tedious task and often becomes unmanageable when there is a multiple Taxi requests in a day. More man power required to fulfill the requests on time so as to meet the demand.
- 4. Generating MIS report was a biggest challenge and time consuming. MIS reports are vital part of any organization to study the anomalies in the process and take actions to mitigate these anomalies accordingly. Creating reports out of email dumps will be a daunting task and requires manual effort from migrating data from email to a spreadsheet format. Moreover, there is a high chance of human errors during this course.
4. Solution Offered
Channel Mentor IT Solutions Private Limited (hereinafter referred to as “CM”) offered its flagship product TravelGrid to PVPL to automate its entire travel process. CM has also customized the product to meet PVPL’s niche requirement especially to automate the Taxi request workflow.
TravelGrid can run as a standalone system and as an integrated system well. Typically, most of the corporate will have an ERP, which manages the entire operations of an organization.CM has recommended PVPL to use TravelGrid as an integrated platform. With this setup, PVPL can completely leverage the benefits of end to end automation.
TravelGrid solution running at PVPL has integrated with three systems as stated below:
- Integration with LDAP: LDAP is an acronym for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, which allows users to authenticate using Windows user account. When integrated with LDAP, PVPL users need not have separate credentials to login into TravelGrid, instead, users can use their Windows username and password to authenticate the TravelGrid user account. Hence, user need not maintain multiple user credentials dedicated for TravelGrid portal, which is usually difficult to remember.
- Integration with SAP’s HCM Module: Typically, most of the ERPs will have its own Human Capital Management module, which will have various components such as Organizational Management, Personal Administration, E-Recruitment, Time Management, Payroll, Employee Self Service and Management Self Service.
Employee Self Service (ESS) component will have vital information pertaining to the employees such as their Name, Employee Code, Grade, Cost Center, Managers & Approval Hierarchy, Work Location, Designation etc. TravelGrid uses this information to drive the workflow within the application. Every successful login to TravelGrid application, the system will retrieve the employee information from ESS component and stores it in the TravelGrid database. This information will later be used to quickly drive the workflow. ESS information is also used to perform a check on travel policy violation, which is apparently based on Grade and Type of travel (Domestic or International) in any organization. Hence, this cuts down lot of manual checks typically performed by finance personnel.
- Integration with SAP’s FICO Module: SAP’s FICO module is mainly used for managing finance related data such Travel Expenses, General Expenses, Invoices and Credit Notes, Cash and Forex Advances etc.
In the current phase, TravelGrid has been integrated with SAP’s FICO module to automatically push the Travel Expense data to the SAP system. When an expense is submitted by an employee, the expense summary goes to the respective Managers for approval. Post approval, the expense summary will go to Bill Verifier’s queue in the TravelGrid application. Here he / she can verify the expenses, approve or reject the expense. When approved, the system will automatically post all the expense line items to the SAP FICO module. Hence, this integration eliminates the manual work of submitting the expense document line items one by one in the SAP portal and reduces the risk of human errors while making the entry in the SAP portal.
In the future phase, TravelGrid may also post invoices pertaining to Air / Rail / Bus and Taxi travel to the SAP system.
Currently, the integration with SAP system is done through Web services, which is developed by PVPL team. This Web service ensures the security by avoiding direct integration with SAP system. Hence, the Web service acts like a middle layer or an interface between TravelGrid and SAP system.
- Customized Reports: CM has delivered customized reports as requested by PVPL. Today, these reports easily cut down manual work so that Travel Desk and Finance team need not perform a laborious job of converting Travel and Expense related data from emails to a spreadsheet format.
5. PVPL results and benefits with Travelgrid
- The system centralized the Travel and Expense processes for a large base of users.
- System drives compliance and policy adherence.
- System ensures timely and accurate expense reporting.
- Shorter cycle time for approval, reimbursements, and supplier payments.
- Lower cost of A/P for due diligence and accounting.
- Visibility into spending trends, enables planning for projections and better negotiations with Suppliers.
- Indirect cost saving achieved with off-settable taxes.
- Few other ROI after using one year of Travelgrid.
Avg. Expense report cost reduced by 14 %
Days booked in advance increased 8 to 13
Policy verification checkpoint increased 4 to 8
To summarize, TravelGrid is a single platform for managing Travel and Expenses in an organization which seamlessly connects multiple departments and provides a hassle free process.
TravelGrid is bundled with multiple ERP connectors to ensure easy integration with any ERP systems on the go. It supports multiple authentication systems such as LDAP, AD and ADFS. The tool can enable Single Sign On mechanism by integrating with third party tools or proprietary based Single Sign On engine.
TravelGrid is built using Java technology and robust Java based Framework, which enables it as platform independent tool (can run on any operating systems) and flexible enough to easily customize the application as per customer’s need.
Lastly, the biggest advantage of using TravelGrid as a single platform for automating end to end process that the amount of data it captures every stage in its life cycle. This vast amount of data with greater veracity makes TravelGrid an indispensable tool and enables CM to offer any kind of business intelligent reports to its customer.