Avoid The End-of-Year Expense Report Avalanche

Published December 20, 2018
Man at desk on smart phone

The holidays in the U.S. can inspire all types of shopping styles. Some claim that there are those among us who shop a little bit at a time all year round, wrap gifts a month ahead of schedule, then sit back and watch the rest of us hunt and gather presents in a mad, last-minute scramble.

To compare this to handing in expense reports, everyone likes the methodical, in-the-moment style where as soon as an expense happens, it’s tracked, uploaded, and reported using your trusty expense management software.

However, that’s not always the case.

Winter can be busy season for expense reporting

Lots of employees will wait until the last minute before they hand in expense reports. Why? Well, part of the reason is because when they’re on the road, they’re not thinking about their receipts. Sure, they’re collecting them, but they’re stashing them away for later—often because they don’t have the tools that will let them track and report them in real time.

When does later actually come?

Well, sometimes later doesn’t actually come until the end of the year. That’s because these same employees find themselves putting things in order, cleaning up their offices, and getting ready to start fresh in the new year.

That’s when they stumble upon a backlog of receipts.

Great! It’ll be like getting a holiday bonus check. And while it might seem great to them, it’s not so great when managers and members of accounting get buried in an avalanche of end-of-year paperwork.

What if employees could report their expenses—even from the road? What would encourage them to do so? Would it be your expense reporting policy? What about your expense management software?

As it turns out, aligning your policy and your software can be the trick that keeps you from getting buried.

Managing employee expense reports can be a challenge. When employees aren’t sure about your policy or procedure, or don’t have the tools they need to submit reports easily, things can get even trickier. Expense management software such as ExpenseWire can help you give them more control of the process.

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Long receipt

Does your software support your expense report policy?

Talking about things like your expense policy, or expense management software, might not make for the most exciting conversation at the holiday party. But ignoring them can create the type of situations you don’t want around the workplace. If your people are left to interpret your expense reporting policy, things can turn into a guessing game.

  • Some might report an expense that falls beyond your policy. Then, when the expense is declined, they might get confused or frustrated, especially if another employee told them it was okay.
  • Others might decide to pile up expenses over multiple business trips, then hand in a fairly large expense report that goes back months. What if they lose receipts, make up the numbers, or claim something that the company no longer reimburses?

When you have a clearly defined expense policy, this can help you:

  • Control costs.
  • Eliminate confusion regarding what can and cannot count as a business expense.
  • Empower your employees to work within a specific budget.
  • And separate their spending between reimbursable and non-reimbursable expenses. (For instance: a business lunch with clients vs. a personal meal with friends even when they’re traveling for business.)

Taking it a step further, with more and more employees traveling for work, working remotely, and carrying company cards, it’s essential that your policy and your technology line up.

When you align your employee expense policy with your expense management software, you can simplify and streamline the expense reporting process across the board.

  • With expense reporting software, employees can upload receipts, and attach them to expense reports. No more lost or forgotten receipts.
  • Your automated system can provide you with insight into expenses as they happen.
  • Key features like built-in warnings and alerts help employees stay within policies and spending limits. This helps them keep an eye on things like how much they’ve spent during a trip.
  • Expense reporting software can also speed up the time between expense reporting and expense reimbursement.
  • And, on the business operations side, your expense management software can provide powerful data that helps you analyze costs, see where you’re spending money, and determine project profitability over time.

No matter what employees spend company dollars on, you want them to be accurate and efficient when it’s time to report expenses. For them, being able to do so should be easy. And for you, expenses should never feel like an avalanche.

Is your expense report policy leaving too much room for interpretation? This can lead to fraud, and create costly inefficiencies. A digital travel and expense management solution can help ensure your employees stay accountable to the process. ExpenseWire helps makes it easier for employees to upload receipts in real time, adhere to the company’s expense policy, and much more.

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