How to Manage Global Mobility Costs Before They Get Out of Hand

Global mobility professionals have always been recognized for their uncanny ability to hire the right kind of international talent for a very specific kind of work. They also amaze their bosses with their networking skills and the strong connections they have made with VIPs like ambassadors, CEO’s of conglomerates, heads of immigration agencies, and university directors, just to name a few. One aspect of their job, though, that is being neglected both by the global mobility professional and his superior is accounting – particularly, keeping track of the costs of international assignments.

According to the Brookfield Global Relocation Services 2016 Global Mobility Trends Survey, only 51 percent of the companies actually regularly monitor the costs of international assignments. About 76 percent do not see to it that the actual costs perform according to the estimated ones reached during planning, and another 94 percent do not consciously measure the return of investment of these assignments.

Financial management, too, is part and parcel of a global mobility professional’s tasks, and here are some tips on how to make sure that costs related to the project and the placement of assignees stay within budget, or at least are regularly documented:

  1. Veer away from the “one-size-fits-all” assignee package and do a cost-analysis prior to making the offer. Expenses increase when they are made based simply on historicals. An unmarried expatriate from the United Kingdom will have different requirements from a family man who is bringing his spouse and kids with him from India. Tailor-made the packages. Scrutinize every aspect of his relocation, from transport, housing, to documentation. Customize each assignment and determine the cost per person. Do not simply pull out an old file and “fill up the blank spaces” because it is convenient.
  2. Use technology to centralize the cost-compliance process. To keep things from falling into the cracks, make sure that there is one central monitoring document that follows where the money goes, how much is spent, how much is returned, and whether or not they are exceeding or matching the initial cost projections. It’s  like a road map but one designed to direct financial expenditures. Do not do this manually or perform the individual spreadsheets yourself, because the sheer enormity of the task can be overwhelming. Software can create itemized lists, do accounting, evaluate progress (or the lack thereof), and keep everyone on the same page. Find one that best fits you.
  3. Conduct audits frequently, and don’t wait for the end of the year to do your evaluation. Take time to do this every month, or every couple of months. Ask a colleague to double-check your findings. This will help ensure that every dollar is accounted for. It will also give you benefits beyond financial management, like getting regular oversight on your accomplishments of your objectives, and the amount of work you still have to do.