June 30, 2011
Beginning July 1, we are implementing changes to our travel policies, accompanied by the roll-out of a new automated Travel and Expense (T&E) module over the next six months. These changes will result in reduced administrative voucher preparation time, expedited reimbursements and significant savings across our system. The new travel policies will be posted to the UM System website in the Business Policy Manual, Section 500, Travel.
Some of the key features of this new “shared services” approach to managing travel expenses include:• a streamlined travel and expense approval process,
• changes in the business meal reimbursement policy, and
• a reduction of previously required documentation.
These benefits will accrue from the replacement of today’s paper-intensive reimbursement process with an electronic process that features built-in information, policy compliance requirements and helpful prompts that will enable faculty and staff to complete expense reports faster and receive reimbursements within a few days, or even overnight.
In addition to the cost savings and streamlined administrative processes this initiative will deliver, we will be able to free up time currently spent by administrative staff in processing travel expense paperwork to perform other activities. By capturing travel data in an electronic system, we will be able to better analyze travel information across the system and improve every department’s ability to better manage overall travel expenses.
With the implementation of any major project, technical issues may surface even though the new system has been carefully and extensively tested. If you have any questions or experience any problems, please contact your local Help Desk (click link for phone numbers). The IT and accounting staff across the system are committed to working with you to answer your questions and resolve any issues quickly.
While we have seen a $6.5 million reduction in total annual travel expenses system-wide over the past three years, the cost of processing travel expense reports has continued to average about 14 cents of every dollar reimbursed to travelers. The benchmark study undertaken by 250 staff across the system, with support from Accenture using Hackett methodology, identified the opportunity for a new process to further reduce the university’s processing costs.
These changes to our travel and expense policies and processes are made in the context of our ongoing commitment to curtail travel and related expenses as much as possible in light of the continued economic challenges across the state and country.
We extend our sincerest thanks to the finance and IT leaders across the UM System who have worked so hard on this project under the leadership of Bobbi Walker and Ben Canlas supported by Paul Toler. Paul continues to spearhead our strategic shared services/Operational Excellence Initiatives.
Stephen J. Owens, Interim President, UM System