What is the expense report procedure at most companies and why should it be simplified?
There are two kinds of companies nowadays. The ones which use an expense management tool and the ones who remained at the old fashion solution, with collecting and scanning invoices and filling out paper reimbursement requests. If you think now, that you already have a software which solves your problem, it is always better to check your expense claim routine, as you might need to update to a better tool which solves all your problem not just some of them.
Below, I will present the steps that most companies follow with the expense reports and if your business does the same or a similar procedure, I will tell you why should you rethink it and how could you save a lot of time and even money if you change this process.
1. Collecting, checking, not forgetting.
First of all, all employees need to hoarding receipts and invoices for every small activity or item they need. If we think about how many papers need to be collected on a one-week business trip, you will be shocked, or you are already. Apart from flight tickets, or taxi bills and accommodation costs, they have to collect all the coffee, sandwich and loads of unexpected receipts. And not just gather these, but constantly check if everything is fine on them, in order to avoid all the problems which can occur later when requesting the reimbursement. On top of these, I have to mention the fact that even after their trip they need to keep all of this paper to prove themselves to receive their own money back. If they lose one of the tiny pieces, it could cost them hundreds of euros.
2. Form filling
If the employee managed to perform all the above and have every single invoice, then it is time for them to fill in an expense report form. This can be on physical paper, as at most of the companies, can be an excel or word form (which will be printed afterward) or on specific software that allows you to fill in a form and scan and upload all of your receipts. Yes, even some of these tools will not save you from the paperwork and completing the reports.
That could be different at the companies who are responsible for the next step. The most common way is that firstly a team leader checks and signs the documents, then the financial team checks it again, then the management’s signature is needed, then again the financial team takes care of the reimbursement and saves the reports for filing and for the audit. Either way, it is for sure that those reports will go through several people and needs quite a lot of approvals and signature before the reimbursement can even start. Even if you have a software which helps you to avoid paperwork, the scanned documents still need to go through all the validating processes.
4. Mistakes - missing documents
After my first three points, you would think it is not that bad, why would you waste time to change this when it already works. Well, because I am sure you are aware that it is never that simple. Only very few cases accepted in the first run. Most commonly, during the review process, the responsible people will find typo mistakes, missing documents or wrong calculations. In this case, the whole procedure needs to be repeated and maybe not even just once before the claim can take place.
5. Be ready for audit
Everyone’s favorite topic is audit. Well, does not matter if you like it or not, it is obligatory and you need to perform well. You need to have all of your papers ready to prove every movement your company made, including the expense reports. Yes, all the receipts and invoices your employees gathered during a year have to be in a good presentable form.
With an application, you now maybe have a big breath as all of them are saved electronically so you just need to present all the pdfs, which is still not the greatest solution but better than all the filed piece of papers.
If you still think that this is the best way of the reimbursement requests, then I will tell you why do you need to simplify this method.
As I mentioned previously, a high amount of expense reports contains errors. With a good expense management tool, it is almost impossible to perform any mistake when you claim your reimbursement, I will explain to you soon how is that possible.
2. Time- consuming
All the people involved in the approval procedure of the reports are wasting precious time. If you think about how many more important tasks could be done by a manager instead of approving a taxi bill. Or a finance team member could work on an important liquidity report instead of searching for a small receipt to check if that couple of euros that are requested for a croissant is correct. You maybe think now, it is just a couple of minutes. But add all these minutes of all the people involved and coupled it with all the employees who can claim some expenses. You can easily get almost an hour at the end which could be spent on much more important projects.
3. Wasting money
I guess you do not understand how could expense reports cost any additional to you apart from paying the reimbursements. I will not mention small amounts like the paper purchase or spending money on a software which provides you a half-solution. I would like to highlight the relation between the time spent and the salary. I assume most of the employees are paid an hour spent basis. So if you add together all the minutes I mentioned above for all the team members, you can see that just to approve one expense report can cost you hundreds of euros as it takes time away from the employees. Time is precious, and you pay for something which could be easily avoided, simplified or automated, involving much less human effort.
4. Uncomfortable situations
The first step of the expense report process is already quite uncomfortable for the employees, but the worst part about it is that you ask them to pay everything themselves and IF they can provide you with all the requested documentation then they could get all their spendings back. It is like they pay for working for your company and if they going through a tiring and time-consuming procedure they might get back their money after a month. Did you ever face a situation when your employees could not afford to pay these expenses? Or needed to cancel a business lunch because they did not want to admit that they are not able to pay it? If not, you are lucky, but it could easily happen and this could create an embarrassing situation, not to mention the case when they need to ask back 1 euro for a coffee, but yes, loads of small costs can become a big expense also.
5. Expense fraud
The above-mentioned discomfort can lead to an unsatisfied way of thinking when an employee thinks that his company does not respect him or using him, so he deserves “compensation”.
This can be, for example, overtime hours spent after work or during the weekend which is not necessary, but why would they do the work in normal day-time if he could do it for more money at another time. Or a more simple way to fake invoices and bills and request reimbursement after them. They can also spend much more money than needed on a business trip, like using the minibar or have lunch with friends and request their cost as well from your company. So many creative ways to bill you and you will pay much more than it is needed.
As you can see now, it is a slow, inconvenient, and expensive method. I can certainly state that no one likes this procedure.
Fortunately, there are much better ways for your company to manage expenses without going through the stressing levels of the process. With a tool like Haslle, every step can be simplified.
With the following features:
Virtual and pre-loaded credit cards: Allow employees to spend pre-approved funds, with this it is easy to follow the expenses and you can be sure that the money is used correctly.
No potential for expense fraud: Haslle can provide you with a clear overview of all company expenses at any point, not just per departments but for every individual. With this feature, it is almost impossible for expense fraud.
Real-time validation - reduce time spent: Haslle enables your team to request validation from management in real-time, meaning quick and easy transactions. This helps to avoid any unexpected costs at the end of the month.
Automated processes: If you have a regular expense, which is safe to say that does not need to be approved every time (like a SaaS subscription monthly price) then you can easily automate the approval of these expenses to avoid wasting time.
Audit report easily: You can be easily and quickly prepared for an audit anytime, as all the information you need can be provided with a couple of clicks or touches with Haslle.
Accounting software integration: Probably you have an accounting system, which can be easily integrated with Haslle, to simplify also all the financial procedures of the company spendings.
These are just some of the solutions that Haslle can provide you to make expense report procedures easier and much quicker. No more filling in paper forms, no more expense fraud, everything will be simple and transparent if you choose the correct software. You can try Haslle out now for completely free by clicking here.