COMMENTARY

Cloud, AI rework internal processes

Budgets are a pain to manage – especially for government contractors. Disparate systems and budgets make it hard to decide if that one client trip is worth taking. Government contractors must jump through numerous hoops to get their products or services to an agency or department, but a complicated process for submitting travel and expenses should not be one of them. That is why managers need solutions that provide clear, concise data to make better spending decisions.

With continuous disruption in the public sector market — from new regulations to new technology — costs are always in the spotlight for government contractors. In this environment, companies need to do whatever they can to control and reduce what they spend. The answer, not surprisingly, is moving many of these paper-based processes to the cloud.

Most government contractors are probably working in the cloud already, so they understand the ease and efficiency it brings. Taking travel and expenses to the cloud is no different; it helps to better secure data, provides greater transparency into business decisions, delivers control over spending, reduces fraud, manages risk, makes compliance easier, and perhaps most importantly, provides a better travel experience for every employee by digitizing expenses with the latest apps and tools that employees actually want to use.

Let AI Do the Work for You

When most people think of artificial intelligence, they think about robots, self-driving cars, or their Amazon Echo. They don’t think about the millions of small ways that AI transforms the way they live and work, and that includes making better spending decisions. Government contractors should be able to use simple automation tools to make budgeting easier, removing the need to squint at spreadsheets or flip between systems to approve travel expenses.

Secure the Data

Securing employee and customer data is especially important given the sensitivity of most government contracts. This is why CIOs and CTOs need to ask themselves: “Is our data as secure as it should be?” The security and confidentiality of government information, including data that could be gleaned from contracts and travel details, is critical and a potential public relations nightmare if not secured. In the era of data mining and cyberattacks, it’s important to recognize the value of data security and integrity.

Reduce Costs

With large numbers of government contractors needing to travel, it doesn’t take long to see how much getting a handle on T&E really does matter. After people and payroll, travel and expenses are likely some of the biggest cost centers. That means travel and expenses are costing government contractors more than companies in other sectors — money that contractors could be using elsewhere. Eliminating any inefficiencies and driving out excess costs by finding new savings is critical.

Make Compliance Easier

Contractors operate in a highly regulated, highly scrutinized industry. They need travel and expanse management systems to improve policy compliance, prevent fraud, and make sure they meet every regulatory requirement, including duty of care. Paying for business meals and traveling with government officials can break a variety of laws so knowing your employees are complying with not only company policy but also federal, state, and local regulations is crucial.

Keep Employees Happy

Due to the large amounts of travel, there can be a great deal of employee rollover at many contractors. That means contractors need to give their employees the tools and technology they need to do their job as efficiently and effectively as possible. Paperwork is busywork, and if your people are still wrangling receipts and writing up expense reports, they’re not getting to the work thy need to get done. Giving them super-simple apps—and cutting unnecessary steps from the travel expense process—not only makes travel more enjoyable and productive. It helps recruit and retain top talent.

Government contractors spend so much focusing on the technology needs of their customers that they often overlook their own needs. Instead of relying on pen and paper to approve travel expenses, contractors should move these basic functions to the cloud because moving simple work functions like travel and expenses to the cloud will help them focus on meeting government’s needs while still staying profitable.

About the Author

Tom Waldvogel serves as SAP Concur’s sales director of enterprise for the government contracting, aerospace, and defense industries.

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