5 steps to improved expense management
Expense management is, for many, considered a time-consuming and tedious process. It takes time, effort, and patience for employees to find receipts, fill in all details, staple receipts on paper and submit the expense claim. Subsequently, the reports must be approved by the managers before they’re forwarded to the accounting department for bookkeeping and reimbursement. Often there are missing receipts or information, and the report must be returned back to the employee again.
All these steps take time, increases the risk of inaccuracies, and makes the company’s overview of their travel and expenses difficult.
With many systems, large amounts of data, and the need to do more with less, there is only one way out! Digitise and transform the accounting department. Enable increased efficiency through real-time analysis, sharp forecasts, and decision support? while creating value for the business.
But where do you start?
Five steps to improve expense management
Step 1: Be open to change
Change can be difficult and intimidating, but it’s an absolute necessity for individuals and companies to develop. New technology should be used to optimise, improve and streamline tasks in the everyday lives of employees and organisations. Although it may seem like digitisation is a difficult process, it ultimately leads to more time spent on your core business.
Start by documenting all challenges you have with your current expense management process. Then, consider the factors that are preventing and hindering the company from embracing digital transformation. And lastly, collect insights about your employees’ behaviours and driving forces. Use all the above factors and insights to motivate decision-makers in your organisation to digitise the finance and accounting department.
Step 2: Get a clear picture of your expense management policies
Review your expense management policies to determine which expense management solution is most suitable for you. This is also important information for the solution provider you ultimately decide to proceed with, so document your policy review thoroughly, it will be useful both now and later.
If your organisation doesn’t have a simple and clear expense management policy right now, then it’s important that you create a policy that clarifies and regulates what employees can get compensation for. It provides your employees with an overview of what is expected of them and what they can expect and what they cannot receive compensation for. It is also a good idea to address and define how your employees should handle their receipts, how they should be saved and collected by the finance and accounting department. With clear policies and guidelines in place, managers avoid unnecessary questions and the accounting department can handle the expense management without having to chase receipts.
Step 3: Communicate your policy
After the expense management policy is in place, it is time to communicate it to your employees. Focus on what is important for them to know, preferably both in written format through email and in a joint meeting. Make sure that the information is easily accessible to all employees. A good place to keep it can, for example, be on your intranet where employees easily can find the answers to their expense-related questions. Be clear about the workflow – when the expense reports should be submitted, when they should be approved, and when the reimbursements are paid.
Step 4: Make it easy for your employees
Submitting receipts is usually a task that employees keep on procrastinate with. It’s not the most fun task, but it’s a very important one. Make it easy for employees and managers by choosing a solution where they can manage allowances and travel expenses on-the-go on the phone. It saves them time and makes them more efficient.
For employees who are less inclined to change – we all have a few of those – eliminate the uncertainty and fear of the new with clear information and knowledge. Make sure to educate them in the new digital service until they feel comfortable using it.
Step 5: Take advantage of data
With a digital and automated expense management solution, you get one go-to place with a clear overview of all expense claims, receipts, travel expenses, and more for the entire organisation. Use the data to analyse and create insights on the company’s costs, and improve accuracy when managing budgets.
Remote working became the norm for most office workers in 2020. Let’s take a closer look at how expense management has changed – and continues to change – and how business leaders can address these challenges with an eye on the future.
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