Why your travel platform should be integrated with your IT systems
Covid-19 has played the role of a trend accelerator when it comes to digital transformation. The pandemic has brought fourth a surge of changes: linked to dematerialisation, contacless technology, and virtualisation. And while many companies have understood the benefit of integrating digital solutions into their systems, some are still reluctant to do so.
Today, most companies use ERP systems to handle their business processes. Those systems are built to meet the most specific business requirement within a company, offering the deep degree of customization required by most corporates.
Yet, ERPs cannot do everything. Indeed, these systems are highly-customized, very complex and full of multi-dependencies, making them difficult to handle a transversal and multi-dimensional area such as travel.
Also, handling travel-related processes - out of an ERP system - can quickly become very costly and time-consuming for large organisations. For instance, travel managers need to manually keep the HR database updated - adding/removing employees, putting the right cost centers, project codes or any other analytical field, required in the company process.
Here is why integrating your travel management platform with your systems is critical for the success of your travel processes.
The importance of APIs in integrating your systems with your travel provider
As your systems are likely very different from other companies', it is critical that the integrations work along your specificities. Historically, this has left large companies with few choices: hire consultants to customize their ERP to handle specific needs, license a third-party application, or change their processes to fit the ERP system.
Today however, more and more technology companies are providing their own APIs, allowing seamless integration into their clients’ systems. It is by far the least costly and easiest option, given the need for customization and the ability of modern ERPs to use third-party APIs.
That’s why, make sure to select a travel supplier that provides a back-office API. This will insure your systems get integrated with the travel processes, allowing you to both control and customize it.
An API/webservice will thus allow you to automate processes by synchronizing HR data (no need to go back and forth to add or remove employees), automatically import and centralise invoices, as well as automate workflows and allow for a smoother accounting process.
Main benefits of the integration of your travel platform with your ERP
- Predictable costs
It is no secret that business travel platforms are cost-efficient. With some platforms offering travel services on a per-user-per-month basis, tracking down the costs induced by business trips can be easily extracted and tracked. Moreover, travel platforms' efficient predictions help in managing company expenses more efficiently, ensuring higher profits.
- Business agility
Using multiple systems that can’t “communicate” with each other can prove to be risky for your business: lots of savings or business opportunities can be missed if you are not synchronizing data from travel activity into your systems. Integrating a travel platform within your IT systems, on the other hand, will allow you to control your travel budget based on specific metrics and business processes. As your travel platform centralises all parameters and harvested data and follows it in real time, no more need for a big, complex, or expensive IT infrastructure!
- Reduced costs, better consistency and scalability
An integration such as the aforementioned makes for fewer systems to maintain and scale, generating substantial savings for any potential change event (e.g. post-covid crisis management that impacts some business processes). The necessity to constantly reconfigure your whole travel platform will no longer be an issue.
What to take into consideration when choosing your travel supplier, in regards to integrations
Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when considering travel platforms, integration-wise:
- Find a travel supplier with a back-office API that can at least handle HR and billing synchronization with your systems
- Obtain, browse and review the supplier API documentation:
- Architecture: REST/JSON API are the most recent and the easiest to integrate (vs. SOAP/XML). Look also for clean, well-structured and easy-to-understand documentation - as this will give you a proxy for the technology standards and business fluency of the provider.
- Features scope: Look for real-time reporting, invoicing and user management for operations available through the API (these are the most common back-office processes of travel platforms)
- Presence of webhooks: Webhooks enable the API to “call” your systems to notify it of any change. This can come in handy for real-time synchronisation with your accounting, for instance.
- Make sure your travel provider is technology-capable. Rely on their expertise, and avoid maintaining an in-house expert generating substantial extra cost.
In sum, it is essential for companies to opt for travel management solutions that will seamlessly integrate within your IT systems, boosting productivity, and reducing extra costs as a result.