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Travel Initiative Update and Feedback Survey

With changes to key travel policies and reimbursement processes now in place, the travel process initiative is moving into an evaluation phase, which will include regular input from travelers and those who support them.

Recall, changes to policies and reimbursement processes were approved and went into effect last year. Key changes included: 

  • Increasing the threshold required for receipts for travel-related purchases to $50.
  • Eliminating the “transportation calculator” worksheet when justifying mileage reimbursement. (Travelers are still encouraged to choose the least expensive transportation option that also meets their needs.)
  • Allowing conference travelers to book hotels at or below the conference rate, regardless of the availability of the conference hotel.
  • Providing travelers with the option of claiming 75 percent of the allowable government per diem, in lieu of submitting meal receipts.
  • Schools, colleges, departments, or administrative units should not be adding complexity to the university standards for travel-related expense reimbursement. (Note: Some grant-funded travel may need additional documentation per requirements of the sponsor.) 

For related Travel Initiative FAQs, visit the Operational Excellence (OE) website

User Survey 

The Operational Excellence program team will check in with stakeholders two-three times per year to assess traveler satisfaction, adoption of policies, and need for continued improvements. To provide feedback about your recent experiences with the new reimbursement processes, we encourage you to complete a brief travel expense reimbursement survey. 

Pre-trip Approvals 

As noted in a previous update, departmental pre-trip approval processes vary widely at SLU, with some more efficient than others. A team from the Controller’s Office (Lori Myers Christine Branson and Patty Valentine) with input from staff from schools and colleges explored adjustments to Concur that would allow us to create a single unified process for approval, booking and expense reporting across the University. After testing, research and discussions with business managers in multiple units, the group found that the system was not a viable option for SLU to achieve this goal. But, changes have been designed (not yet activated) for Banner Self-Serve Create Trip and Concur's Trip Booking screens to enable streamlining of approvals by departments. 

We will continue to explore ways to streamline departmental pre-trip approval processes using trust and department-level accountability as the primary guidelines. The OE program and travel initiative teams will host a workshop in April with business managers, administrative assistants and others who support faculty and staff with travel bookings.  If you are interested in participating, please send an email message to magisoperationalexcellence@slu.edu

Future Efforts 

In addition to making changes to policies and reimbursement processes, the initiative’s design team recommended looking for ways to enhance or streamline three additional areas related to travel: 

  • Faculty travel that is partially-funded by the University (e.g., fixed amount reimbursement)
  • Group travel for conferences
  • Staff/faculty awareness of travel policies and understanding of how to use Concur, SLU’s online travel booking and expense management tool. 

These areas will be explored by the Division of Business and Finance ­— working in conjunction with other divisions — through the remainder of 2018. The Operational Excellence program team will assist as needed. 

Mobile App 

The Concur App ­lets travelers use a smartphone camera to take pictures of receipts, create and submit expense reports, and review and approve reports. To download the app, visit your mobile app store and search for ‘Concur.’    

Thank You 

We are grateful to initiative team for their contributions to improving the University and to the Travel Office for their work on this effort. Special thanks to Theresa Leisure, director of central processing, for her leadership as project manager during the implementation phase. 

Feedback 

As always, your comments and ideas are welcome. You can email the program team or use the online feedback form. You may also contact your colleagues who are working on any of the active focus areas; initiative team rosters are found on the program website.  

Your Operational Excellence Program Coordination Team

 Eric Armbrecht, Ph.D., Associate Professor – Co-Leader
Doug Williams, J.D., Professor – Co-Leader
Libby Gallogly – Project Manager
Justin Daffron, S.J. – Growth
Clayton Berry – Communications
Brianne Burcke – Finance 

About Operational Excellence

Launched in February 2016, Operational Excellence is an institution-wide initiative designed to make SLU more efficient and effective, and identify opportunities for increased revenue and growth — all to enable the priorities identified in the University's strategic plan. The program stems from Initiative Five of the strategic plan that calls for us foster a culture of excellence, effectiveness and efficiency deeply rooted in our institutional mission and Catholic, Jesuit values. For the 2017-2018 academic year, the Operational Excellence program is focused on revenue growth and process improvements.