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Intelligent Business Travel: SAP Travel Management

by Simone Roth | SAPinsider

October 1, 2001

by Simone Roth, SAP AG SAPinsider - 2001 (Volume 2), October (Issue 4)
 

In these times of globalization and internationalization, business travel activities are increasing both nationally and internationally. For the first time, business travel expenses were cited as the second-largest controllable corporate expense,1 behind salaries and benefits. Most companies can no longer afford to put travel expenses on the back burner, and many have appointed special travel managers who, in joint projects with financial teams, are taking a closer look at controlling travel costs. The challenges they face include:

  • Reducing the enormous process costs and the piles of paper that are often generated
  • Cutting direct purchasing costs for airfare, car rental, and hotel accommodations
  • Managing the settlement of travel expenses using one system for subsidiaries in multiple countries
  • Monitoring all travel-related expenses in greater detail, when most data is spread over multiple system sources
  • Increasing flexibility for the staff on the road, while coming to grips with an efficient travel policy

     At the same time, new Internet travel engines are popping up every few months, making travel choices seem almost infinite - at first glance. Yet none of these sites can offer the complete range of solutions needed to manage and control business trips from A to Z. This is what makes Travel Management unique: SAP Travel Management concentrates on the automation and integration of the entire business trip lifecycle.

     SAP Travel Management services, shown in Figure 1, are available as a part of mySAP Financials. It can be run in a mySAP Financials or mySAP Human Resources (HR) system, or in a separate system using SAP's Application Link Enabling (ALE) technology to communicate with Financials and HR systems. It is a powerful tool designed to:

  • Help companies handle policy-compliant online booking of travel services like flights, car rental, and hotels2
  • Incorporate exact calculation rules for travel expense settlement with total legal and tax compliance
  • Offer easy ways to handle approval workflow
  • Provide full integration with mySAP Financials and mySAP HR to further expedite accounting and reimbursement. Customers can even choose from numerous ready-to-run country-specific versions for the private and public sectors in order to support their international business units.

Figure 1

Travel Management Functions via the mySAP Workplace

     These features are available via multiple access modes: via R/3, via mySAP Workplace and portals, as an Employee Self-Service, or on a mobile device. In addition, SAP Travel Management gives companies the opportunity to make the most of their travel data. As data owners, companies have all data at their disposal for 100-percent reliable reporting, e.g., via the business content in SAP Business Information Warehouse (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Travel Management Content in the Business Information Warehouse

     The Solution Map in Figure 3 provides an overview of all SAP Travel Management functions supporting the business travel process.

Figure 3

SAP Travel Management Solution Map 2001

Savings Factors

When electronically managed business travel goes hand-in-hand with the optimization of the administrative travel processes, companies reap substantial savings. In many organizations, process costs are disproportionately high - simply too many stakeholders are involved in managing each business trip. The entire process can be streamlined using SAP Travel Management.

     What's more, when companies use SAP Travel Management to achieve cost transparency and better insights into the sales volumes accumulated with travel suppliers, they boost their negotiating power, creating an immediate impact on direct purchasing costs.

Strategy Counts

Cutting down travel costs is not just a question of using the right tool; an adequate in-house travel policy is also essential. But in the end, the key to savings is compliance with this policy. One of the basic laws of managed business travel is that the higher the policy compliance, the higher the savings. SAP Travel Management strengthens the role of travel managers by helping them achieve this goal without reducing the choices and flexibility of travelers.

Travelers and Their Needs

Of course, when traveling, you need to focus on the purpose of the trip without getting bogged down in administrative tasks. On the other hand, travelers need flexibility: when business plans change, itineraries must change with them. What about a wireless check of your current itinerary? Need to reschedule your return trip? What are the visa regulations for Venezuela? Why not feed the system with the expense data from credit card clearing, in order to reduce manual entry efforts?

     To accommodate travelers' needs, SAP Travel Management offers a number of additional services - both online and offline - to accompany the business trip lifecycle. In addition to familiar Employee Self-Service (ESS) travel functions, full SAP Travel Management features will be available via many portals where a travel workset is appropriate, including the SAP portals for managers and consultants.

Want to Learn More?

For more on SAP Travel Management, see www.sap.com/travelmanagement and http://service.sap.com/tm.


Simone Roth joined SAP in early 1999 and is with the Product Management Team of SAP Travel Management. She holds a master's degree in Business Administration and Applied Linguistics. You can reach her at simone.roth@sap.com.


1 Based on 2000-2001 American Express Survey of Business Travel Management.

2 Online booking facitilites are provided via a direct link from SAP Travel Management to the world's leading global distribution systems: AMADEUS and SABRE.

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