University of Virginia Process Simplification
Process Simplification Teams and Reports: Completed Teams

Travel Project Redesign and Implementation Plans
Summary Status Report

Travel Process Simplification Team
Mission and Goals

The Travel Process Simplification Team (Travel team), formed in July 1995, was charged with the tasks of: evaluating the reimbursement policies and procedures for travel-related expenses and reimbursements including the TAN process and pre-approval for travel; assessing the enhanced use of petty cash; identifying opportunities to improve the paper flow; evaluating post audit review mechanisms and authorizations; and recommending methods of automation where appropriate.

Through departmental focus group meetings, the Redesign team identified six central issues relating to the current travel process:
  • the travel planning and reimbursement process is too complicated;
  • the approval process is cumbersome;
  • the time required to complete the reimbursement form and receive payment is too lengthy;
  • the process is always changing and it is difficult to keep up with the new rules and limits;
  • travel agencies do not always provide the lowest fare; and
  • state mandated limits do not cover the cost of travel.
Note: for detailed information on these problem areas, please refer to pages 7 - 12 of the "Travel Project Plan."

Based on its review of the University travel process and of information obtained from five other universities about their travel processes, in April, 1996 the Redesign team presented the following recommendations to the Administrative Services Process Owners Group (ADMINPOG):
  • Design and implement one form that manages all travel related activities.
  • Implement a pre-trip approval process whereby travelers make travel arrangements, estimate the total cost of the trip, document these estimated expenses on a new travel authorization and claim form, and obtain approval for the trip budget. Additional (post-trip) approvals would only be required if the actual expenses exceeded original estimates by more than 10%, or if expenses requiring additional justification were incurred.
  • Implement an automated travel authorization, claim, and reimbursement process (an electronic Travel Authorization and Claim Form) in a user-friendly way such that a novice would understand how to use it without extensive training.
  • Develop a travel web site containing travel policies and procedures, meal and incidental expenses rate charts, lodging limit charts for domestic and foreign travel, information on obtaining approval and receiving reimbursement, and other useful travel tips.
  • Provide departments that incorrectly apply travel related transactions to grant accounts with one warning (as opposed to four) before OSP takes action.
  • Develop a procedure for Accounts Payable to post-audit 15% (or some appropriate percentage) of travel claims as opposed to a 100% pre-audit of all paper travel documents.
  • Note: For a complete list of and detailed information on the above listed recommendations, please refer to pages 26 - 31 of the "Travel Project Plan."
Some of the anticipated benefits resulting from these recommendations include:
  • simplifying the travel planning and approval process;
  • automating the travel process;
  • producing time savings for the travelers and the travel processor;
  • decreasing the turn around time to receive reimbursement by streamlining review points and moving toward a post audit process for central administration;
  • improving customer satisfaction; and
  • increasing departmental accountability for the validity of travel claims.
The ADMINPOG endorsed the Travel team’s recommendations, and in June 1996, a Travel Implementation Planning team (Implementation team) was formed to review and develop a work plan to carry out the recommendations set forth by the Travel team.

Travel Implementation Team
Mission and Goals

The Implementation team was charged with the tasks of examining the Redesign team’s recommendations and implementing the new travel process. Several of the recommendations outlined in the Redesign team’s report (e.g., implementing a pre-approval process) required approval from the State Department of Accounts (DOA). Therefore, one of the Implementation team’s first steps was to write to DOA requesting exceptions to specific state policies.

Note: For more information on the University’s request to DOA and DOA’s response, please refer to Appendix A of the Travel Process Simplification Team’s March 6, 1997 "Implementation Plan."

The response provided by DOA, subsequent changes to DOA policy, and a more detailed review of the status of E-forms projects have impacted the work of the Travel Implementation team. Specifically:
  1. DOA did not accept the University’s request to post-audit travel claims though a random sampling of completed forms. DOA officials did state, however, that they would be willing to revisit the University’s request once the electronic process is in place and has been proven to be successful at catching errors up front.
  2. Key issues surrounding the use of a travel e-form, such as multiple data entry points and allowing for electronic attachments, have yet to be resolved.
  3. The re-negotiation of the travel agency contract (due to occur in the Summer of 1997) may affect the overall process, depending on new services that the vendors may provide. These issues will be addressed by the Implementation at the appropriate time, and the team will make the necessary changes to the implementation plan in order to accommodate new travel policies and procedures.
Implementation Plan
After extensive analysis, the Implementation team has determined that this Process Simplification project will be most successful if it is done in three phases. The implementation team is currently pursuing the initiatives described under Phase 1 of the project:
Phase 1
  • Define and establish the necessary organizational structure to support the new travel process. A Travel Coordinator/Administrator, who will be ultimately responsible for maintaining the revised travel procedure, will be designated. Also, a Travel Council, composed of representatives from the departmental travel experts, may be formed to provide ongoing feedback on the travel process.
  • Design, pilot and implement an improved process for handling transactions related to pre-travel planning and post-travel reimbursements. Categories of travel that will be impacted by this new process include day travel, overnight travel and foreign travel.
  • Design and implement a new Travel Authorization and Claim form that will be made available in an electronic spreadsheet format. This new form will be made available in various mediums including diskettes, as a download from a UVa Travel Web-site, and as a printable document.
  • Design and implement a UVa Travel Web-site that makes traveling planning and execution easier for everyone. The Web-site will contain information on: travel policies and procedures; travel tips; links to other travel web pages; information about dealing with contracted travel agents; frequently asked questions; and the process for obtaining approval and reimbursement for travel.
  • Incorporate any new features and functions provided through the negotiation of a new travel agency contract.
  • Conduct a marketing effort to inform the University community about the revised travel process, provide updates on changes in travel policies and procedures, and solicit feedback about the new travel program.
  • Conduct the necessary training to develop and educate departmental "travel specialists" who will, in turn, educate and support University travelers. This is consistent with the recommendations made by the Enhanced Employee Training team.
Note: for more information on the above listed recommendations, please refer to pages 5 - 10 of the Travel Process Simplification Team’s March 6, 1997 "Implementation Plan." Timeline
The timeline proposed for implementation of Phase 1 of this project is approximately 11 months, with core team members’ time commitment ranging from 5% to 25% over this period. The work plan for the project includes designing and testing the travel authorization form in spreadsheet format, developing and implementing the travel web-site, identifying the appropriate individuals who will assume ongoing responsibility of all aspects of the travel process, planning and conducting the internal pilot of the new program, identifying opportunities to communicate the new travel program, evaluating and revising the new process as appropriate, and obtaining final executive commitment.

Phase 2 and Phase 3
During Phase 2, the team will develop and pilot test an electronic Travel Authorization and Claim form in the University’s E-Forms System, and will produce the training and marketing materials required to deploy the e-forms process throughout the University. In Phase 3, the team will evaluate the effectiveness of the e-form process, and petition DOA to authorize the establishment of a random sample post-audit review process for travel claim forms. The timeline for Phases 2 and 3 will be determined at the appropriate time.

The Implementation team has succeeded in incorporating the essential objectives of the design plan while adjusting to the actual implementation details and timing to fit the changing nature of the many factors impacting the travel process.
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Last Modified: 10-Nov-2010 07:58:02 EDT