An automated and bespoke expense system – tied to your organisation’s expense policy –can reduce flaws in submissions, frustration for workers, time and resources required to fix errors and, ultimately, free up time and money to better deliver frontline services. Hear from Richard Allen, Solution Consulting Director, SAP Concur, who explains how.
Few people enjoy filing expenses. Filling out cumbersome expense forms can be time-consuming, finding receipts and other ‘evidence’ can prove stressful, and knowing exactly what is and isn’t in policy can be a minefield for employees.
And it’s not just staff that suffer from antiquated, over-complex and manual expense processes. The costs and resources required to rectify errors – if indeed they are spotted before payments are made – can be a drain on valuable resources that could be used elsewhere.
Meanwhile, employees can find themselves out of pocket if they are made to wait for expense reimbursement because they’ve been submitted incorrectly. That can in turn impact staff morale, and even threaten employees’, and their family's, wellbeing.
The issue is that expenses within central government departments are complicated and can vary considerably. Expense policy across departments and bodies is nuanced and complex. And, if your systems and processes aren’t tied to your policies in a way that they can automatically flag, accept or reject submissions in line with that policy – then high levels of costly errors can, and do, occur.
The outcome can affect everyone across the organisation: claimants who suffer frustration with systems and morale issues; approvers who must spend valuable time checking and authorising eligible claims; and other areas of the business, which rely on accurate reports and financial information to maintain compliance and justify taxpayers’ money is being used judiciously.
Of course, the vast majority of employees would never intentionally submit fraudulent expense claims. But unintentional errors are just as much a hindrance and drain on resources as intentionally fraudulent claims. And, in an increasingly complex tax and expense world, the potential impact on government bodies and their staff is greater than ever.
Solving the problem
In short, systems that are not tied to your internal policies and which rely on manual processes are inefficient, create high costs and deliver poor reporting. These issues make expense processing and reporting time consuming, create additional admin requirements and drain resources.
As with many admin-heavy activities, however, digital solutions can help overcome these challenges and fix a variety of pain points around even the most specific expense policies.
We have seen incidents within government departments of staff being reimbursed late, due to them failing to understand complex tax guidance, for example. Some staff have told us the guidelines are unclear and they’re often unsure their submission is 100% correct. Others have told us they rely on colleagues to guide them – unclear if they are formally trained to get it right.
Meanwhile, other staff have told us they sometimes know they aren’t claiming as much as they are entitled to be because they don’t want to accidentally claim too much and get into trouble.
It’s easy to see the impact these issues can have on staff – let alone the impact on a department’s finances and ability to report accurately.
The wider organisational benefits
In addition to supporting departments’ needs for accurate financial reports, digital transformation of expenses can deliver other organisation-wide benefits, too.
It can contribute to increased productivity by removing the complex and onerous manual process – that in turn boosts employee morale. Giving a better user-satisfaction experience raises the profile and reputation of the department as being efficient and slick – even helping attract the best talent from elsewhere.
What’s more, it can provide an accurate spend overview to help you maximise every penny available to the department and, as always, maximise the delivery of frontline services.
Many central government departments are currently seeing the benefits of tailored, automated expense solutions tied directly to their internal policies – and, in the process, finding that digital transformation does not necessarily need to mean large-scale investment, even if the benefits are considerable.