With many of today’s businesses adopting a more flexible, hybrid approach to working, expense receipts for home office furniture and equipment are set to be rivalled by claims for travel, subsistence, and mileage.
This hybrid model means that accounting and payroll services and departments are going to have a consistently varied range of claims to contend with. In fact, when we compared anonymously-collected expense data between 2020 and 2021, we discovered claims more than doubled year-on-year.
So how will you keep track of it all?
Never fear! To help you get your expense management off to a flying start in 2022, we’ve collated 7 top expense management tips to help you streamline and improve your workflows, keep your employees happy, and best of all, reduce the amounts of incoming and stapled pieces of paper into your office.
So here they are, in no particular order:
Decide what works and work with it
No-one knows your business like you. When solutions are sought for other areas of your organization, such as sales and marketing, they’re done to benefit the business and add value. Expense management may not be an income-generating function, but you can leverage true value from cost-effective solutions in terms of time and money saved.
How? The best expense solutions work together with your existing systems. Choose a solution that’s relevant and seamlessly integrates with what you already have – not something that goes against it. The last thing you need is more complexity on top of your existing expense management and payroll processes.
Be bank card agnostic
If you’re being asked to change banks or get new credit or corporate cards to make your expense management process better, maybe think again. It’s definitely not necessary to change providers, and it’s much less hassle to work with a solution that already supports all existing cards, rather than switch to a new provider. Above all else, it means you’re not locked in to a single solution in the long term, and you have flexibility to pivot.
Stay compliant the world over
When it comes to your accounting and payroll systems, how compliant are they with EU and GDPR regulations? An expense management solution needs to securely store and process data according to regional privacy regulations. Not an easy thing to get right when you’re based in a single location, and even more complicated if you’re operating out of different countries.
And if you are doing business from multiple countries around the world, you need to ensure that the expense management solution you have is compliant with local tax regulations, and adaptable to local languages. Errors can be time-consuming and costly to correct. On average, a single expense report takes approximately 18 minutes to correct at a cost of $52 USD. Tax rules and regulations change yearly. Multiply that across all your global markets, and suddenly compliance with local tax regulations becomes much more complicated to manage. Do you have a system that can track and adapt to changing regulatory requirements? We do!
Get on board with digital transformation
The workplace is changing. Organizations everywhere are exploring the benefits of digital transformation. With hybrid and remote working looking like a more permanent feature of the workplace landscape, accounting and payroll services have the ideal opportunity to go digital.
If you don’t have a fully functional and digital expense management solution, now is the time. To address the needs of a more flexible workforce, your services need to cover every finance-related process for businesses and employees. Why insist that every customer or employee has to visit the office just to submit their expenses?
Increase automation to increase acceleration
Hand-in-hand with the digitization of expense management comes automation and speed. Increasingly frictionless functionality makes expense management ever faster and more convenient.
Think about how fast your employees are reimbursed for their expenses today, and consider how fast it could be with increased automation. The key question is what can you, the finance team, do if your tools automate repetitive tasks? What related work would add greater value to your business?
Prioritize user-experience (UX)
When your business is on the journey of digital transformation, there are a growing number of new software solutions and processes for employees to understand and use. The last thing they want to do is sit through an additional training session on yet another new system. So when you’re choosing a solution for expense management, make sure that it’s intuitive to use and user-friendly.
The global pandemic has catalysed the competency of many people’s digital literacy skills to the extent that they have grown to expect increasingly easy-to-use apps and software. Managing expenses is often perceived as a thankless task, so it’s crucial that its functionality guides users, making the process as simple as possible, without the need for protracted training.
Simplify mileage and per diem
As more and more people return to the office and resume pre-pandemic business travel, it’s essential that you make recording and tracking expenses easy to do on the road. Just because employees might be travelling less (to begin with, anyway) that doesn’t mean you should cut down on features in your expense management tool. If you or your employees travel for work, then mileage and per diem should be included in your tool.
It should be simple to record and adapted to localized units of measurement – such as kilometres or miles. Having a reliable and secure app for tracking business miles and per diem simplifies the workflow for people on the move.
The Closing Balance
Let’s face it, most employees find expense management a bit of a chore, especially when it consists of clunky and time-consuming processes like downloading and printing forms, attaching receipts, or mailing claims through the post. And it’s not much fun on the receiving end either, when claims come rolling in by mail or email, and they’re unclear, or a receipt is missing, or the wrong receipt is attached. Then there are the delays in getting reimbursement issued through the payroll system. Surely, there’s got to be a better way?
By following our 7 top expense management tips, you can streamline your workflows and move towards more simplified and accurate reporting processes, saving your organization time, and ensuring expense claims are processed more efficiently in 2022 and beyond.