One of the common aspects of the day-to-day running of a business in almost any industry is business expenses and how they are managed.
Your employees travel; to meetings, to conferences, and back and forth from the office to the site (if you employ engineers, for instance). From fuel to transport, to client meetings to coffee or dinner (even golf!)—depending on your industry, your business likely has to deal with a lot of expense requests. And often there is quite an elongated, manual process that takes place between your team and the finance department. And often the bigger you are, the longer it takes.
That’s why a lot of companies employ an expense management system that can help put a process in place that helps organize this area of the business. But even so, the nature of the process means there are often points of friction.
Like expense claims, travel requests must be checked against meeting times, calendars, colleague schedules and approved by management. Both expense and travel claims and requests can be cumbersome, involve a lot of different people and leave paper trails a mile long.
This can cause friction and misunderstanding at different stages of the process, while processing the requests can take a long time for everyone involved. Time that could be better spent on more valuable aspects of the business.
Expense Management System Conflicts
Below we’ll look some of the common points of friction in an expense management system, and how automated workflows are just the thing you need to make the planning, submission and processing much more efficient.
We’re at a point where we have the technology to make the process of expenses and authorizing expenses as simple and transparent as possible. There are apps that will digitally capture your receipts and make them easier to submit along with your expense reports. Yet, the process is still somewhat manual.
And that’s where automated workflows come in.
1. Delays in Reimbursement
A common issue is the time it takes for expenses and all the required documentation to be received, processed, accepted, queried and approved before the employee receives their reimbursement. This is frustrating for the employee and puts pressure on the finance department.
The process itself for the finance team is often manual and tedious, checking figures against receipts and entering numbers into spreadsheets over and over, which can also lead to errors.
An automated workflow takes the repetition and tedium away from the finance team, thus reducing or eliminating human error and speeding up the whole process for everyone. This results in happier and more productive employees who know for sure when and how they will be reimbursed by the company.
2. Errors in Request Amounts
This friction point can come from an oversight in calculation on either side of the process, whether the employee has been inaccurate or the accountant has made an error.Either way, it can mean delays.
An automated workflow will enable you to take in your requests, add the list of expenses up and automatically send them for approval to your manager and the appropriate member in the finance team, along with the appropriate documentation.
Your finance team is then prompted to review the employee’s digital expense sheet, approve the figures which automatically prompt the appropriate person in Accounts to process the payment/reimbursement.
3. Spend, Receipt, Repeat
A lot of the time, submitting expense reports or travel requests is a fundamental part of your employees’ jobs. And the process, even if digitized, is repetitive. Most of the time they are traveling to the same locations, meeting with the same clients, and using similar amenities.
An automated workflow can automatically setup an expense claim for expense or travel requests that you know will be repeated each month. For example, if you can set up a workflow for your fuel allowance expense form, that will save you having to go through the process of filling out the same form each month.
4. Lost Documentation and/or Insufficient Information
What happens if you lose copies of your receipts? Or you mail them into the office and they never make it? That is both a headache for you and for your finance department.
Digitize your receipts by taking a picture of them with your smartphone and automatically storing it in your expenses app.
The workflow can be triggered by date (such as end of the month) and your receipts are automatically submitted along with your expenses report. If the documentation is insufficient, you receive an automated reply stating what you are missing.
Innovating the Everyday
Business expenses are an everyday part of doing business. That’s why it’s vital you have in place the right process that allows your expense management system to work optimally for all your teams.