Here’s a startling fact: the average business takes about nine days to process an employee expense claim. Many take longer... weeks even. So, what's going wrong and is there a way to fix the problem?
Who's feeling the pain?
Slow expense processes can be a hidden drain on everyone concerned. Out-of-pocket employees certainly suffer, but finance teams also find themselves seemingly wading through treacle to get things done. That results in frustration, wasted time and extra cost for the business. This isn't a rare problem either – Vanson Bourne data shows that 89% of finance departments face challenges with their expenses process.
Let’s take a look at the four barriers to ultra-fast expense processing. (But don’t worry, there's a way to break through each of them.)
Obstacle #1: Sloppy submitting
Often claims are delayed because submitting expenses is slow and awkward for employees. They may even have to file the paperwork in their own time because they're so busy – which rankles.
Training can help – but smart companies will make it easy for employees to do the right thing instinctively. Automation can play a major part. Today, it's possible for employees to simply take photos of receipts and submit them wherever they are... almost as fast as uploading your dinner to Instagram.
Obstacle #2: Approval lags
Let's face it, most people didn't get into management for the white-knuckle thrill of approving expenses. It's just part of the job. But approvals may get held up if managers are out of the office. They can also stall if managers don't understand what's allowed and what isn't. But can this be fixed easily?
Yes. Today, companies can arm managers with a mobile app for on-the-go approvals with built-in policy checks, saving diligent managers from compliance angst.
Obstacle #3: Manual mayhem
Often, there's a black hole somewhere in the middle of the expense process where hours and even days disappear mysteriously. There's no single reason for this delay. Rather, there is a snake pit of manual processes that tie up your best people and you can’t always see where it is. Think tedious spreadsheets, rekeying data, chasing up sign-offs and untangling complicated errors.
Again, automation can help straighten out these problems. Cloud-based tools provide system-ready information from employees and managers – instantly.
Obstacle #4: Reimbursement hold-ups
You'd think payment would be the easy part, but it's not. As we mentioned earlier, nine days from start to finish is the average time it takes to process expenses. But some companies can take far longer. And even the payment stage itself can add an unwelcome delay.
Typically, companies set up employees like suppliers, reimburse them through the payroll, or process them manually through their account. But any of these can create extra admin and delays. Next-generation solutions can provide the answer, automatically routing previously-approved payments direct to employees' bank accounts. Job done.
How much time can you save?
Through automation, you can shave days off your expenses process – which benefits not just your finance team but employees and approvers, too. Think about what else you could be doing with that time. Plus, you’ll be enforcing compliant practices and gaining a real-time picture of your expense liabilities, delivering valuable insights to your business.
Get your best practice guide here
For a closer look at the problems and solutions surrounding the expenses process, read our revealing whitepaper, The Blueprint of a Best Practice Expense Process. See how your organisation compares to the experiences of hundreds of other companies and find practical answers to everyday challenges.