SAP Cloud for Travel: A Newcomer Market Challenger

Rising travel costs, increasing business travel in this age of globalization, including online bookings across multiple sites, and increasing costs to process expenses all drive the development of travel and expenses (T&E) solutions. TEC’s P.J. Jakovljevic looks at SAP Cloud for Travel, and describes how recent enhancements in the product offer travelers and organizations additional choice and efficiencies for T&E management.

SAP Cloud for Travel: A Newcomer Market Challenger 

Much has been said of late about SAP’s burgeoning Cloud Solutions portfolio around the People, Money, Customer, and Supplier lines of business (pillars), but very little attention has been paid to the novel product called SAP Cloud for Travel (formerly SAP Travel OnDemand), which is a part of the SAP’s Cloud Money pillar. Contrary to most of the SAP Cloud Solutions coming from blockbuster acquisition (e.g., SuccessFactors or Ariba), this cloud offering was developed internally by SAP. The product was commercially launched in February 2012, and has since had six quarterly release cycles. SAP has embraced an AGILE product development approach with the goal of providing market responsiveness with frequent enhancements. Each quarter has seen an expansion of both the functional and global footprint of the solution.

Travel Industry Trends

Like its peer travel and expenses (T&E) management products by Concur Technologies, Infor, Workday, Coupa, and KDS, the SAP Cloud for Travel solution is designed to enhance a corporation's visibility into and control over the expense management and reimbursement processes, helping companies cut travel costs and complexity while aiming to increase compliance and employee productivity (see figure 1). Rising travel costs, increasing business travel in this age of globalization, and increasing costs to process expenses all drive the development of such T&E solutions, which support cloud and mobility as a matter of course. n addition, there are ever fewer travel agents in the world but more and more travel Web sites, resulting in an increased number of travelers booking their own trips (more than 40 percent, according to some research).

Figure 1

Business travelers often spend an inordinate amount of time managing the administrative aspects of their trips, including verifying travel policies for booking, sorting through receipts, and keeping track of travel expense details. The majority of individuals booking trips online, more than 70 percent, are now booking across multiple sites. As a result, there is massive fragmentation of personal travel information, whereby no one is watching the back of do-it-yourself (DIY) travelers. SAP Cloud for Travel was designed not only for travelers who need to meet their business goals, but also for line managers who need to make the most effective use of travel budgets and for auditors who need to effectively audit travel spends. Last but not least, the product was also designed for chief financial officers (CFOs) who need to better control expenses and cash flow, and help manage compliance with corporate policies.

Currently, in its sixth quarterly release, SAP Cloud for Travel has 20 dedicated country versions for key regions, while the international template provides core travel and expense functions for usage in more than 100 countries. Supported languages include English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Chinese, German, and Portuguese. Additional languages are planned in the next few releases. The product features a number of native reports and analytics with a high-level summary and drill-down details to the level of individual expense reports. Some frequently used reports are as follows:

  • The top overall spender
  • The highest number of trips taken
  • The average trip cost overall and per traveler

In addition, an add-on tool for Microsoft Excel gives users the ability to run reports directly in Excel and use Excel functionality to enhance reports. Examples of such common reports could be as follows:

  • The number of trips/month (e.g., May–September)
  • The average trip cost/month (e.g., May–September)
  • Overall travel and expense (T&E) costs/month (e.g., May–September) 

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