What International Organizations Should Know About Expense Management

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The world is undoubtedly more interconnected than ever before. From small and mid-sized businesses to large corporations, so many organizations do business across geographic borders, whether this means working with vendors and suppliers from overseas, to managing remote employees.

There are also frequent situations where businesses require employees to travel internationally in order to meet with clients and conduct business.

Managing expenses at the international level carries with it a unique set of challenges. Of course, this might not be something a smaller business would necessarily have to think much about. They might just have employees with the occasional stay at a foreign hotel to consider.

It’s really the larger global corporations that have to think carefully about what they need in an expense management solution, and general considerations include the potential complexity of workflows, tax issues, and regional standards.

So how can large companies and businesses with in-depth international expense issues choose the right expense management solutions? The following are some key things to keep in mind.

Rollout and Implementation

If your company has determined a new software solution is necessary for international expense management, it’s important to first and foremost think about how long new technology would take to roll out and fully implement.

It needs to be efficient not only for use in the U.S., but across international locations as well.

How are not just your U.S. employees, but potentially your employees based around the world going to interact with the new software? Is it flexible enough to address widely varying geographic needs and local requirements?

VAT Considerations

One of the primary things every company with any international business expense needs must know about is the Value-Added Tax or VAT. It works in a way that’s similar to the U.S. sales tax, but the amount varies between countries.

Your business travelers who aren’t residents can request a VAT refund at the conclusion of their trip, but it’s important that your employees always keep this added expense in mind when they’re going overseas.

Your expense management system should include ways for tracking and managing receipts that will make for efficient refund filing, and it can take months or even up to a year for this refund, so businesses need to be prepared to budget with this in mind.

Mobility

Possibly one of the most important considerations for any company with employees who travel is mobile compatibility, and this includes for international travel.

You want your employees to be able to use mobile apps to do everything related to expense management on-the-go including taking pictures of receipts, calculating the VAT in different countries, and converting currency.

Languages and Currencies

One of the most simple considerations when it comes to choosing an expense management solution for international companies, but also one of the most overlooked, is whether or not multiple languages and currencies are supported.

If you have employees who speak different languages, you want them to be able to utilize the expense system as easily as your U.S.-basesd employees.

You also need to think about not just whether the software itself is available in different languages and currencies, but also how well-prepared the support team is for dealing with different languages.

Compliance

When your employees are overseas, it can be tough to stay in communication in a way that allows them to know what policy information is, what’s approved, and what isn’t.

That’s why it’s critical to choose an expense management solution that addresses compliance in a dynamic, flexible way without barriers to communication or approvals.

When you choose a system created for global expense management, it should deliver the ability to customize pre-approvals, and claims should be dealt with as quickly as possible so that business can continue.

There are various legal compliance issues to consider as well, such as the Sunshine Act, or Sarbanes-Oxley, among many others.

To sum up, when you’re a globally operating organization, whether you just have employees that frequently travel internationally, or you have a constant presence in countries around the world, the expense management solution you choose can be a key driver of your success. In some cases, it can hinder your cash flow and your ability to conduct business efficiently across geographic lines if not managed properly.

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