You may presently be tasked with evaluating whether your company needs global TEM support to support its expense management operations company-wide. For purposes here, global means TEM support outside of the United States and Canada.
There are differences between the United States and Canada, but they are manageably dealt with by most U.S.-based TEM providers. For example, there are governmental regulatory differences impacting taxes and fees that are different in Canada than in the U.S. (e.g., VAT tax in Canada).
Global TEM Support?
When considering hiring a TEM partner that claims to have global reach beyond the U.S. and Canada, things get more complicated. And frankly, this is an understatement. Why, might you ask? One can anticipate the obvious implications of differences in language and currency. But the differences go far beyond this from a management perspective.
For example, other influences that impact business practices beyond language and currency include cultural differences, legal practices, and geographical challenges (e.g., time zone gaps).
Irrespective of whether you are new to your expense management role or have simply been tasked with expanding the scope of your current TEM duties to include global expenditures outside the U.S. and Canada, you will want to think through the following five areas closely.
Being careful when being sold by TEM providers that assert global expense management capabilities is especially important.
Let’s review in greater detail the five big factors to consider when evaluating global expense management capabilities.
Top 5 Considerations for Global TEM
1. Currency Conversions – How does the TEM provider manage currency conversion
Ask your prospective TEM partner about their capabilities to manage worldwide currencies. How many countries can they support? More importantly, can they demonstrably show they support countries that will be within the scope of your project?
If your prospective TEM partner asserts that they have global capabilities, you will want to see a demo of how their TEM platform processes the data and corresponding conversions, certainly for the countries that will be within the scope of your project. Will this work for you and your organization’s expense management requirements?
Be sure to contrast the TEM platform’s capabilities and the TEM’s expertise claims against at least two other TEM providers that claim global TEM capabilities. At the very least, you will gain a greater sense of the challenges of global TEM in addition to making important TEM provider comparisons.
2. Language and Personnel – How does the TEM bridge language differences?
Obviously, this is an important consideration. For example, if a prospective TEM says that it can manage enterprise expenses incurred within, say, Germany, can it demonstrate how this is done?
Specifically, what company resources do they have within Germany that can do the job? Is this their own staff/office within Germany? Or do they utilize partners, which is more likely the case
This is a difficult hurdle to overcome in terms of global TEM capabilities, especially when dealing with countries beyond the mainstream in Europe that are also likely fluent in English (e.g., Germany, Sweden, Norway, the UK, France, Spain, et cetera.). Because of this, most TEM providers claiming global TEM capabilities will be leveraging help from regional partners.
Leveraging regional partners is what you can expect to see in this regard. This is not necessarily an issue per se, but you will want to dig deep into this area. Ask your TEM to detail how they traverse this big challenge. Who are their partners? (Beware of vague high-level claims asserting ‘presence’ within the country.)
Can they provide an example or two of how they would effectively run an invoice through the entire TEM process from the foreign country(s) back to your expense management headquarters, within the U.S.?
3. Geography – Can your TEM demonstrate how it manages time zone challenges?
This is also an obvious area of concern. For example, even if you are satisfied that your prospective TEM partner will leverage a strong relationship with a competent expense management partner in another country, how do the time zone differences impact the project’s overall expense management operations?
When you have countries within your TEM project’s scope that may have time zone differences of 10 hours or beyond (e.g., India, Australia), things get tricky and difficult to manage. Again, you will want to inquire in detail with any prospective TEM partner on how they manage this challenge and are able to cleanly sync in a timely manner with you and your top management to effectively meet the project’s requirements.
This is an often-underappreciated area in terms of the challenges it causes for companies that have shared their global TEM experiences with us.
4. Legal – Do sufficient legal team resources exist within the TEM that help mitigate the challenge of working between different legal bureaucracies for countries?
This is an area that is important to not overlook. We mentioned Germany earlier. Let’s use them again here as an example.
Germany has its own more stringent laws regarding data privacy that requires far more protections (e.g., redactions) than in other countries such as the U.S. This has major implications for how data is managed differently within Germany and for how it can be moved or transmitted outside of Germany for effective processing by your team.
Again, if you are seriously considering taking on a big TEM partner that claims it will oversee all your global TEM needs, inquire about how they manage the legal balancing act between different countries.
5. Culture – Can your TEM effectively manage cultural differences?
This may seem minor but any project with a large global footprint will contend with cultural differences. Naturally, how invoices are managed and processed will be different within westernized countries than it will be in, say, countries in the far east.
Naturally, like the other items covered in this article, culture will play a part and it will cause problems. This said, ask your prospective new global TEM provider how they go about addressing this challenge. Can they provide examples of how they have dealt with this in the past with existing and satisfied global clients?
Global TEM support is a vast topic, and we’ll do more detailed analyses on this topic in the future. The key consideration for you at this time, however, will be to keep these five areas top of mind when evaluating prospective global TEM partners.
Interview your prospective TEM(s) and have them get into the details of how they would address these areas. It’s important because selecting a TEM partner that overstates its ability to deliver on global capabilities always ends badly and this is common.
If you’d like to consider Tellennium in your TEM vendor comparisons, contact us to schedule a brief demo of our solution. We are happy to meet and demonstrate our capabilities for quickly deploying and managing your enterprise mobile environment, thereby relieving your IT resources to focus on other organizational priorities.
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