Signing off expenses can be a problematic chore.
On the one hand, it’s essentially admin. It’s very easy to simply approve an expense claim without a second glance. In fact, research suggests that less than 1% of employee expense claims are ever rejected by an expense approver. This is a troubling statistic given one in five employees thinks it’s okay to exaggerate expense claims.
It’s perhaps therefore hardly surprising that 68% of finance leaders aren’t confident their employees comply with travel and expense policies.
On the other hand, approving expenses is a vital job. Taking the time to do it right is essential if you’re going to pick up on mistakes and fraud that could be costing the company money. This concern is reflected in the fact that 57% of companies report poor visibility into spending and compliance is the largest T&E challenge they experience and 43% of finance leaders are concerned about an HMRC inspection.
So how do you balance both these issues? How do you minimise the time it takes expense approvers to sign off expenses but also be confident in your compliance?
Here are four ways you can finetune your approval process:
- Let Automation Take the Strain
Automation is a huge help in spotting inconsistencies and highlighting concerns. It means issues such as duplicate claims, missing receipts and out-of-policy items can be weeded out before they even reach the approval process.
It doesn’t stop there either. Automation tools such as Concur Expense can be customised to meet your precise requirements. For example, if some line items – bank charges on the company credit card being an obvious one – don’t need a receipt – Concur can be set to accept these without further question. It means that approvers don’t waste time checking an expense query they don’t need to.
- Train Your Expense Report Approver
When it comes to improving compliance, training is essential. It means report approvers are equipped with the information they need to approve expenses with confidence.
Create guidelines so report approvers know what they should be looking for when they are approving invoices. For example, make sure they are confident the expenses they are signing off:
- Have a valid business purpose
- Comply with your policies
- Include all the relevant detail
It is also important that report approvers feel supported. If they have a query about an expense, how do they escalate it?
- Check Your Approval Chain
An expense claim typically has to go through several layers of sign off. In each case, the approver typically becomes more and more senior. It’s worth asking the question: is checking things such as whether dates tally and receipts align really the best use of their time? Automation can definitely remove much of the pain of this. But could someone else in the business be responsible for checking the nuts and bolts of an expense claim, leaving management to sign it off at a business case level?
- Consider a Safety Net
For complete peace of mind, nothing beats the combination of automation and human intelligence. That’s exactly what Concur Audit provides. Once an expense claim has been through your system, it can go through ours. Concur Audit conducts unbiased audits on your behalf so expenses are thoroughly checked before they are reimbursed. You also get advice from our experienced audit team on how to update and manage your policies to save your business time and money. The service gives you an extra pair of eyes where you need it most and can be configured in a way that makes sense for your business.
Save Time and Increase Compliance
By placing automation at the heart of your expense approval process, you can minimise the time burden on approvers and have greater confidence in your compliance. It’s a situation where everyone wins.