Sodexo creates new solution in Smartsheet to streamline and automate travel requests, approvals, and give senior leadership better visibility

Using Smartsheet to create a new Team Travel Management solution, Sodexo simplifies and standardizes travel requests and approvals, gives senior leaders deeper visibility into travel schedules and budgets, and saves time by eliminating email requests.

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“With our Smartsheet Team Travel Management solution, we have removed the manual, administrative work required to manage the travel request process throughout the team. Each person using this solution probably saves at least 30 minutes each week because there’s no more need to draft emails and wait for approval responses.”

Sparkle Grueso

Director, Program/Project Management, Sodexo

Sodexo, the world leader in quality of life services, provides catering, facilities management, employee benefits, and personal home services to 100 million people in 56 countries every day. Headquartered in Paris, France, the company serves customers in industries including healthcare, education, and energy. 

For several years, the company’s program and project management team has used Smartsheet to manage global projects, collaborate between geographically dispersed teams, and drive sales opportunities. “I rely on Smartsheet heavily every day, and I’ve used it to build more than 50 internal solutions,” says Sparkle Grueso, Director, Program/Project management for Sodexo.

Recently, Grueso’s department was tasked to help improve the approval process for travel for the company’s leadership team. “We have a lot of travel here, because we have 30 different sites. For our team at Sodexo, travel request and approval is a key process,” Grueso says. Previously, Sodexo employees had to use email to communicate with each other about travel schedules and then manually update that information for executives to see. “It was a manual, time-consuming process,” Grueso says. 

Building a Custom Team Travel Management Solution Using Smartsheet 

To standardize and streamline travel requests, Grueso and her team decided to create a new solution using Smartsheet. Grueso replicated the solution quickly so she could enter it into the 2022 Smartsheet template contest, which would recognize one standout solution within each of the contest's four patterns of work: project and process management; request management; team and resource management; and list management. The winning solutions would be easy to use and published to the Smartsheet Template Gallery as a Template to help other users improve how work is planned, managed, and visualized.

After looking at a number of templates in the Template Gallery for inspiration, Grueso designed a Team Travel Management solution using the core Smartsheet capabilities that are available to all users. The solution, which Grueso created using a simple combination of sheets, reports, dashboards, standardizes and streamlines requests for team travel, provides executive visibility into team travel schedules, and reports on key travel spending metrics.

“Building this template was easy because of the Smartsheet Template Gallery, which provides downloadable templates that make it easy to build custom solutions,” says Grueso. “When it came to creating the dashboard, it was easy for me to understand the formulas and then modify and adjust the templates to add our own look and feel.”

Sodexo employees from different teams can use the solution to access links and easily enter their travel requests or scheduled travel, including location and cost data for each trip. The solution also shows the reasons for each travel request so Sodexo leadership can clearly understand the business driver for a trip. The solution’s dashboard uses Calendar View in Smartsheet to enable employees to quickly view individual travel schedules by day, week, or month.

By accessing the dashboard, Sodexo executives can view reports and metrics that show frequency of travel, updated cost information, and trend lines from month to month. The dashboard is updated in real time whenever an employee adds a request or makes a change to an existing request.

“The solution is designed to be very simple to use,” says Grueso. “There’s a landing page that acts as the starting point, which connects seamlessly with the dashboard so users don’t have to spend time clicking through different folders.”

Simplified and Standardized Travel Tracking

Sodexo teams now have a simple way to request travel, provide estimates, and send and receive approvals. “The solution helps our leadership team streamline the process of travel requests for our most senior leaders,” Grueso says. “It is very easy for them to open Smartsheet and see updated travel schedules as well as spending, which helps simplify the management of approvals.”

Because the solution has proven effective at standardizing travel-related data within Sodexo, Grueso does not need to update the solution. “The data is consistent and the functionality is already there, so we haven’t needed to enhance it at all,” she says. “We use it year after year to update all travel information, and it’s all web-based and easy to use for collaboration across all the different time zones we have.”

Deeper Visibility for Company Leaders 

By accessing the Travel Tracker Dashboard, Sodexo senior leaders can see updated travel requests, reasons for travel, budget owners, and calendar information at a glance. “The Calendar View in Smartsheet provides a quick snapshot of all travel within the company,” says Grueso. “This helps our leadership see where employees from each team are during any given day or week.”

In addition, the solution includes embedded reports that executives can use to view the latest spending metrics for travel throughout Sodexo. For example, the dashboard provides historical travel data that helps team leaders better plan travel budgets or forecast upcoming travel spend.

Time Savings through Automated Processes

Using the Team Travel Management’s automation rules, Sodexo has eliminated the need for team members to send emails back and forth to request and approve travel.

“With the Smartsheet Team Travel Management solution, we have removed the manual, administrative work required to manage the travel request process,” says Grueso. “Each person using this solution probably saves at least 30 minutes each week because there’s no more need to draft emails and wait for approval responses.”

The solution’s automation rules also contain notifications to alert employees when a request is approved or declined. The solution also features dynamic reports, with all metrics and travel-related data updated in real time so team members don’t have to manually refresh the solution to get the newest information.

Preview of Grueso's Team Travel Management template

Smartsheet Template Contest Winner

After submitting the Team Travel Management solution to the contest, Grueso was informed that the panel of Smartsheet judges recognized her solution as the standout submission for the Request Management pattern of work, which recognizes a solution that enables teams to handle any volume of internal or external requests systematically. As a contest winner, Grueso’s solution will be turned into a template and published to the Smartsheet Template Gallery, enabling other Smartsheet users to download her solution, benefit from her work, and create their own solutions.

“Although this template is for tracking travel, it could definitely be repurposed for any function that requires scheduling,” Grueso says. “Building a custom solution is easy because of the simplicity of Smartsheet.”

Click here to download Grueso’s template and share it with your team