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T&E Management Solution: Deconstructing the Build v/s Buy Conundrum

When you think of digitizing your travel and expense management processes, do you think of building a solution in-house or buying it from a third-party partner? Businesses have many choices today, but in the end, one has to make a decision. And your choice can change the course or direction of your business for the better (or worse)! In this blog, we will help you solve this dilemma of building vs buying with our analysis and make the right decision. Read on.

Should you Build or Buy T&E Management Solution?

Here are some key factors that should be considered before you make a call on whether to buy or build a T&E management solution:

1. The Time Framework – This is a key factor that could help you decide if you would want to build or buy a T&E solution. Building a T&E solution takes time as you will have to hire a team that has the right expertise to develop the solution – desktop version and mobile app – and get employees to start using it. However, when buying a T&E management solution, it is ready to go live and just needs 2 weeks to create awareness about it. The time to go live with T&E management solution is as follows in a build and buy framework respectively: 

Time to go liveBUILDBUY
Hiring product experts and engineers 3 months 0
Development plan9 months 0
Roll-out plan2 weeksPre-defined playbook
Adoption campaigns 4 weeks2 weeks

So, it becomes 2 weeks vs approx one-year journey in a buy vs build conundrum.

2. Cost Incurred – The cost of any solution should play a key part in your decision-making. But the cost should always be seen in the context of the value it will produce or the ROI. Buying T&E management software has many advantages with the subscription or pay-per-use models. However, you should always check for those “hidden” costs such as the implementation fee, training, or up-gradation costs. 

On the other hand, when you build a custom T&E solution, the upfront cost will be significantly higher. You incur fixed, direct costs such as the salaries of the engineers developing the product plus the cost for the infrastructure and its maintenance. 

In the table below, we compare the cost incurred on building a solution rather than buying one. For a company that has 500+ employees, a team of 5 people would be required to build a T&E solution which would cost you around USD 1,10,595 annually. Apart from this, you would also incur a cost of around USD 1,32,714 on infrastructure such as your cloud-based servers, applications, etc. This means you incur a total cost of USD 2,43,309 annually. 

Cost incurredBUILDBUY
Salaries  USD 1,10,595 annually Pay per use 
Infrastructure & maintenance USD 1,32,714 annually 

3.  Knowledge of Best Practices and Technologies – This is one of the most important elements to consider while you are mulling overbuilding or buying a T&E solution. The T&E solution should empower you with knowledge about the direction in which the travel industry is moving in and the best practices for travel and expense management. 

When you build a T&E solution, you are limited by the knowledge base of the team you hire. Also, there are machine learning algorithms that are hard to establish in a 9-month period (see time framework table), therefore, you may not have the advanced technologies for auditing and preventing frauds or live trackers for the safety of employees.

In the buy scenario, your third-party partner works across multiple companies and systems. Therefore, they are able to bring advanced capabilities and technologies. It offers you AI-ML-powered solutions with much superior reporting capabilities. Also, they have a global inventory of safe hotels and flights and provide you with information about country-specific travel restrictions via alerts or notifications. 

Knowledge of Best Practices and TechnologiesBUILDBUY
Learnings from across industries 
Integration with other systems 
Automated audit 
Duplicate and advanced fraud flagging 
Advanced management report
Customization of reports and dashboards 
Global inventory of safe hotels & flights
Info on global travel restrictions
Live tracker

The cost over two years of actual usage for a build option would be around USD 2,43,309. And a buy option will likely cost you around USD 1,08,354. Therefore, we suggest you buy an advanced T&E solution such as ITILITE rather than building one. 

Must-have Features of a T&E Management Solution 

If you have been able to convince your management team about buying a T&E management solution, here are some features to look for: 


Your T&E solution should be available in equal capability on both the web and mobile. As per data, nearly 70% of expense claims happen over mobile. Therefore, having a mobile app for your T&E solution helps in reducing the approval & reimbursement cycle and improves employee experience. Another aspect to consider is if the T&E solution is an on-premise application or hosted on the cloud. It is easier to maintain and scale if it is on the cloud. Also check: Does your T&E solution have AI-ML algorithms that help you identify duplicates i.e. duplicate receipts, weekend expenses, and prevent frauds?

Auditing and Approvals

You should implement a solution that helps you streamline your approval flows. Each travel expense that is out of policy should be flagged so that your finance team and approvers know and can efficiently check it. You can also set alerts and notifications to be sent to approvers if they have not approved a booking for more than 2 days.

Travel Spend Categories

Pre-populated categories and their attributes are important considerations. The T&E solution should already have common categories such as air travel, software expenses, etc.  It is also important that the T&E software you choose gives the flexibility of adding your own categories and capturing the data you want.

Customer Support

You should implement a T&E solution that offers proactive, multi-channel business travel support to your employees 24*7. They should be available on call, chat, etc. no matter where your employees are or what time of the day it is! It should be a combination of tech and human-powered support so that employees can talk to a person (and not chatbots!) in case of an emergency. 


The T&E solution you choose should offer seamless reporting through integration with other accounting solutions. It should be able to reconcile all travel and expense data in one place so that travel managers and finance managers can easily re-check it.

Be Future-Ready with ITILITE

You can easily automate all your travel and expense management processes with ITILITE. The employees can file expense claims easily, stakeholders can provide approvals in real-time, and finance teams can manage timely reimbursement and month-end expense reporting.

ITILITE has all the necessary features that streamline your travel and expense management processes and provide intelligent insights for your finance and leadership teams. Book a demo with our product expert today! 

Discover a simpler way to manage corporate travel

Corporate travel management can be extremely daunting. Getting travelers to stick to budgets while booking travel, monitoring spends or finding support for travelers – there is always something that needs to be done. That’s why we built a solution that makes corporate travel management simpler.

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