Fasten Your Seatbelts: New System Looks to Simplify the Way UMD Travels

Consider this mathematical problem: a researcher must travel from College Park, Maryland to Columbus, Ohio for a conference. He will spend three days in Columbus and will eat nine meals, but is able to take transit to and from the airport. How long will it take the researcher to complete his Travel Approval Request?

Any UMD employee that frequently travels for university business is familiar with the cumbersome experience of booking travel. On both the front and back ends, travelers encounter multiple, often duplicitous steps. Employees search for their own flights and accommodations, but booking lands in the laps of the department T-card holder. Paper receipts must be meticulously collected and then taped to paper and copied for reimbursement.

Business travel can be a slog; planning it shouldn’t be worse. That’s the idea driving a small pilot program spearheaded by the Administrative Modernization Program that will streamline the process of travel booking and reimbursement. The project is part of a larger initiative to update, strengthen and unify administrative processes and systems—such as budgeting, procurement, travel and student services—to strengthen how the university operates. 

“Right now, the entire travel experience is unwieldly before you even get out the door.” said AMP Project Coordinator Rachel Strong. “Our goal is to simplify the process so that our employees can focus on the business and knowledge-sharing of the University.”

The new travel system will offer a number of features to simplify and accelerate the whole travel experience. Most notably, it will act as a one-stop source for employees to search, request and book flights and accommodations. New digital tools will revolutionize receipt management, significantly shaving time off the current, laborious road to reimbursement. Another significant impact of the system is its bargaining power. Because current travel practices vary greatly across campus, there is no way to capture meaningful data; the new system’s centralized digital warehouse will give purchasers the information they need to leverage carrier deals and save money.

To develop the pilot, AMP project managers tapped over a dozen travel coordinators from BSOS and DIT for the travel modernization team, who shared current practices and challenges. The team then leveraged expertise of Concur and McNair Travel, and partnered with process innovation to help create a streamlined concept.

The pilot, which begins with BSOS and DIT in March, will provide proof of concept for a robust, campus-wide travel tool. A number of other features are also being investigated by the travel modernization team, such as mobile tools that push itineraries to smart phones.

Learn more and follow project progress here.

 

 

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