Gartner has just released its 2017 Market Guide for Travel Expense Management (TEM) Software. The guide is essential reading for any organization that’s thinking of investing in an expense management solution in the coming year, or is considering upgrading its existing solution.

As organizations’ travel programs have evolved and matured, their travelers have come to expect a great end-user experience for business software applications, and their internal IT ecosystems become more interoperable, the expectations of their expense management solutions become greater. No longer are simple image capture and process automation enough. Solutions must be able to make business travelers’ lives easier, while streamlining operations for the corporate travel and finance teams, as well as providing insight for CFOs to make smarter business decisions.

Related: 9 Signs it’s Time to Switch Expense Management Systems

What does Gartner analyst, Chris Pang, suggest that companies should be looking for in their next expense reporting solution?

  • Cloud: As many enterprise applications have moved to the cloud, a SaaS solution is key. [In addition, other factors to consider include whether the vendor has data hosting capabilities that support data privacy regulations in the markets where you have operations].
  • Advanced OCR: Optical character recognition is becoming more common, but advanced solutions will be “smart,” with innovations such as machine learning, that improve each time they’re used. Look for solutions that provide enhanced OCR capabilities. [Ideally at no extra cost].
  • Straightforward Policy Enforcement Automation: Eliminating the need for expense administrators to manually verify policy compliance is a critical benefit of expense management automation. However, this mustn’t be at the behest of the traveler experience. Ask how your provider can streamline expense entry and submission while reducing manual labor for the administrative team.
  • Expense Data Analytics: Expense data can be used by organizations to make smarter, more informed decisions. Look for advanced analytics capabilities that can give both the travel department and the executive team the information they need to make more effective spending decisions.
  • Industry compliance reporting: Industries such as healthcare and higher education have very specific reporting requirements. If your industry has specific requirements to which it must adhere, your solution should be able to support them. 
  • Out-of-the-box global capabilities: In addition to the ability to support multiple languages and currencies, a true global expense solution needs to adhere to reporting and regulatory requirements, wherever your company needs them. See if your solution can handle criteria ranging from per diems to local tax regulations.

Related: Chrome River or Concur – How to Decide Which Works Best for You

Of course, there are many other factors that you should consider, from customer service to total cost of ownership, so you should also see what kind of experience companies like yours have had with your shortlisted vendors. Most of your employees will use your expense report software, so choosing wisely directly impacts productivity. 

Editor's note: as of May 14, 2019 this analyst report is no longer available.

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Our choice of Chrome River EXPENSE was made in part due to the very user-friendly interface, easy configurability, and the clear commitment to impactful customer service – all aspects in which Chrome River was the clear winner. While Chrome River is not as large as some of the other vendors we considered, we found that to be a benefit and our due diligence showed that it could support us as well as any large players in the space, along with a personalized level of customer care. Sally Abella, Director of Corporate Travel Harman International
We are excited to be able to enforce much more stringent compliance to our expense guidelines and significantly enhance our expense reporting and analytics. By automating these processes, we will be able to free up AP time formerly spent on manual administrative tasks, and enhance the role by being much more strategic. Ben Zastrow Zelle

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