Key Findings of the 2019 T&E Management Trends Report

Amid all the innovations of 2019—from self-driving suitcases to flying taxis—a remarkable number of organizations today continue to use analog processes to manage travel and expense.

Almost half of the nearly 600 professionals we surveyed for the 2019 Travel and Expense Management Trends Report say their organization continues to rely on either spreadsheets, pen and paper, or homegrown systems to manage this notoriously difficult-to-control business operating cost.

This year’s report, the seventh of its kind, paints a picture of the sheer range of companies, of all sizes, that still haven’t modernized their T&E processes to fit the smartphone era. Here are some of this year’s key findings:

  1. Technological immaturity remains a barrier to effective T&E management
    The market for dedicated expense management software is rapidly growing. IDC expects the worldwide T&E management software market to reach $2.7 billion by 2022 and have a compound annual growth rate of 8.7%. Yet technological immaturity emerges as a key trend for many companies:
    • Forty-three percent (43%) of organizations surveyed are still managing expense reporting manually.
    • Forty-four percent (44%) of companies that are not intending to invest in a dedicated T&E management solution in the coming year identify the primary reason as: “our current processes work well enough.” Yet among companies that have invested in, or are planning to invest in, technology to facilitate improved T&E management, 82% identified the primary motivator as “simplifying the expense reporting process for employees.”

  2. Organizations don’t fully understand the challenges they face in manual T&E reporting
    Data from our 2019 survey suggest that many companies do not realize—or fail to fully appreciate—the inherent complexity of T&E as a business operating cost.  
    • More than half of organizations (53%) report that the biggest pain point related to expense management is “employees losing paper receipts/submitting without receipts”. Yet most automated expense management systems make it effortless for travelers to scan and submit a receipt the second they make a purchase.
    • Nearly half of organizations (46%) do not track the cost to process expense reports.
    • It takes 43% of organizations eight days or more for an expense report to be submitted, approved, and reimbursed. Only 22% companies can do it in one-to-three days.
    • Only 27% of organizations have a system that automatically flags out-of-policy expenses.

  3. Visibility is a key pain point
    Finance teams can’t effectively manage what they can’t see—and an overall lack of visibility emerged as the chief pain point for organizations who haven’t yet modernized T&E processes in 2019.
    • Nearly half (46%) of organizations report less than a 75% rate of compliance with their T&E policy, while 26% of enterprise-sized companies report they do not know what percentage of submitted expenses are T&E policy compliant.
    • Only 27% of organizations have a system that automatically flags out-of-policy expenses.
    • Thirteen percent (13%) of organizations do not have spending policy category limits in place.

  4. The positive ROI of automation
    Deploying a dedicated expense management technology solution is proving itself to be an investment that can deliver a rapid return on investment (ROI) to companies of all sizes.


Of the organizations surveyed that have invested in such a solution, 57% achieved an ROI for that investment in one year or less, and almost 70% achieved an ROI in two years or less. 

Organizations view the value offered by dedicated expense management systems through the lens of two key elements: ease of use, driven by mobile functionality. This includes features like mobile receipt capture, direct deposit via ACH, mobile report creation and approval, and automated expense report building.

Whether you’re a pioneering CFO at the vanguard of innovation, or an overwhelmed controller holding on to age-old processes, this year’s report offers valuable insight into how organizations are either transforming, or avoiding, this key business function.

Download your copy of the 2019 Travel and Expense Management Trends Report here.