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Common errors when drafting or reviewing an expense report

Expense spreadsheet timer 3 min.
Carol Bernard

There are certain mistakes that are frequently made when drafting expense and mileage claim spreadsheets that can cause problems for the generation and supervision of these documents. Here is a list of the main culprits.

Error 1. Recent changes in the company’s travel policy or general expense policy for which parameters have not been set in the software.

Companies’ policies in relation to expenses change over time, adding new clauses and cases, as well as modifying spending limits for allowances and other concepts. On several occasions, in the time that elapses between the decision to modify the policy and updating the configuration of the software, one or many employees draft their expense reports.

In such cases, incompatibilities occur with respect to the companies’ latest measures or aspects that have recently been updated. Of course, there is no deliberate wrongdoing on anybody’s part, but rather a lack of adaptation to the new circumstances as an insufficient amount of time has passed.

Error 2. A supervisor’s lack of knowledge of or failure to apply all of the company’s policies

Common errors when drafting or reviewing an expense reportA clear example would be if a supervisor declared that an employee had made an excessive claim for a meal that cost 75 pounds when the limit set in the company’s policy is 60 pounds, to name a figure. However, in reality, what happened was that the employee invited a sponsor to lunch. In the company’s sponsor policy, the company allows greater levels of expenses to be claimed, up to 80 pounds, for instance. In fact, the employee has not committed any irregular conduct as they have adhered to the limits set by the company for such cases.

To prevent this type of error, it is crucial that the supervisor knows the company’s policies inside out: code of conduct, sponsor policy, etc., not just the travel policies, as employees often submit expenses related to other regulations.

Error 3. The expense reporter has not been informed of new developments that have been introduced.

This type of incident only has one possible solution: establishing the fastest and most effective communication channels possible so that employees that submit expense reports are always up to date with any changes in this respect.

Error 4. The guidelines set in the travel policy are not adapted to new situations and circumstances facing the company

For instance, the sales team of a particular company always travel within the national territory. However, at a certain point, the company decides to open up its market abroad. This requires its salespeople to go on trips to places with a different standard of living to our own, which means that the company has to modify its policy as it is impossible for the employees to adapt their allowances to the new situation.

This means that new business circumstances usually require certain, sometimes significant, modifications to particular aspects of the travel expense policy.

Error. 5. Travelling to remote places with technological inadequacies.

In terms of the technologies required to draft and send expense and mileage claim spreadsheets quickly, such technologies barely exist in many countries or are extremely basic. The problem is that, on occasions, this leads to non-compliance with the company’s guidelines on deadlines for submissions, formatting receipts, etc.

Error 6. Loss, theft and other incidents

When travelling, it is not uncommon for the documentation that professionals use to draft their expense reports and demonstrate their expenses to get lost or stolen. In such cases, it is always possible to check the expenses when payment was made using a card, but not for cash transactions.

For this reason, and to prevent fraud in the form of simulating a theft, it is advisable to set limits for reimbursements in the case of cash theft.

The majority of errors when drafting and/or subsequently revising the expense and mileage claim spreadsheets occur as a result of problems with software updates and notifying employees of changes in the company’s policies, or due to a failure to adapt to new circumstances.

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