The recording of travel expenses is certainly not one of the most popular tasks that a field service technician has to perform. The receipts from the last trips often pile up to a considerable heap on the desk before - after the third request by the service manager or accounting - they are finally sorted according to orders, entered in an Excel list and sent by post to the head office. It can sometimes take weeks or months before the customer is invoiced. The technician also has to wait a long time for his expenses to be reimbursed. But there is another way.
With the integrated "Travel Expense Manager" module of the mobile order processing mobileX-MIP for Field Service, the service technician can simply record his expenses on his laptop on site and transfer them directly to the office staff. Together with the processing of service orders, he records the costs incurred and other travel details, which are then booked in SAP. There, the data can be checked and processed in transaction PR05 "SAP Travel Expense Manager".
This is how the entry and accounting of expenses with the travel expense manager works:
In the mobile solution mobileX-MIP for Field Service, the technician can find a list of trips already created in SAP under the menu option Trips. The technician can also create a new trip here. The technician must assign it to a service order that serves as a cost object for posting to SAP.
By double-clicking, the technician opens the detailed view of a trip. When a trip is created, various data fields are filled from the assigned order data and can be changed before the trip is posted. These data fields are:
- Location: Is derived from the order address.
- Country: Is derived from the order address.
- Travel period: Is derived from the planning data of the order.
- Revision number/reason for trip: Can be derived from the order text.
- Abroad: If the country differs from the home country of the technician.
Which order data is transferred to Travel Accounting can be individually adapted.
The technician can enter a list of his expenses for each trip under the Receipts tab. The technician must enter the cost element, the date, and the amount. The different VAT rate is already stored in the cost element. He can also upload and attach a photo or a file of the document as a file.
Technicians who carry out international assignments document their entries and exits in the Border Crossings tab. For each receipt, they also enter the country of travel and the currency. Different expense types are available, depending on the country. For example, the technician can enter expenses with or without sales tax. Further additional fields can be individually configured in the expense receipt window.
The travel expense manager also takes into account allowances for meals and accommodation, which can be individually configured depending on the company. These can be deducted for each day of the trip with the expense receipts, for example for a hotel overnight stay with breakfast. If the entire trip is not invoiced as a lump sum, the checkboxes in the Deductions tab are not ready for input.
If the technician uses his private vehicle for business purposes during a trip, he can indicate the respective routes via the Private Kilometres tab.
The technician must assign each trip to at least one service order in the travel expense manager. The technician can subsequently add further service orders to the trip. For costs that affect several orders, such as travel abroad or hotel costs, the travel expense manager distributes the portions variably among all orders.
In an individual implementation, the costs can also be distributed to SD receipts or cost centers.
Once the technician has entered a complete trip and all expense receipts, he or she can complete it. The data is then transferred to the back office. There, the internal service checks the data in transaction PR05 "SAP Travel Expense Manager". If everything fits, he can then release it for accounting. Then the invoice is issued to the customer and the expenses are reimbursed to the technician. The expense receipts are also archived in the document management system.
For trips of several weeks or months, the technician can also transfer part of the trip and expense report in advance and receives an advance payment after the check.
The advantages that the Travel Expense Manager offers over a travel expense report with Excel and paper are obvious:
- Simplification: The Travel Expense Manager makes it much easier for the technician to record travel expenses and expenses, as many data, flat rates and tax rates are already preassigned. By integrating the module into the mobile order processing, he does not have to use an additional tool, but can do this with the feedback on the order.
- Increased quality: Digital recording improves the data quality of travel expense accounting. Errors in manual transmission by the office staff are eliminated, preassignments avoid incorrect entries.
- Increased productivity: The technician spends less time recording travel expenses and can concentrate on his assignments. Questions during the inspection by the office staff are less frequent.
- Acceleration of invoicing: Mobile travel expense recording significantly accelerates the invoicing process. The accounting department no longer has to wait until the technician is back from his assignments, finds time to do the accounting and finally sends the receipts by mail to the head office. This shortens the billing cycle from several weeks to a few days and improves the company's liquidity.
- Faster reimbursement of expenses: The technician also benefits from mobile travel expense recording. They receive their expenses reimbursed more quickly and can receive advance payments for longer business trips.