Although it may seem like a simple enough process, expense report management can give a company lots of benefits if it is done properly: spending control, greater cost management efficiency, saving opportunities, etc. There are several good practices that you can apply in order to achieve the best possible management of your company’s expense and mileage claim spreadsheets. Here are some explanations of a few of the most important aspects to take into consideration.
Generating expense and mileage claim reports
Managing expense and mileage claim spreadsheets starts from the prior phase: the planning of the trip itself. This is a key step in avoiding unnecessary expenses, which must be spelt out in detail in the expenses policy: how far in advance the trip must be requested, through which channel, the approval workflows, the deadlines for reporting expenses, etc. It is also extremely important to define which expenses can and cannot be reimbursed very specifically. It is all too often taken for granted that this is understood and doubts, confusion and various problems can arise when it comes to settling expenses.
Therefore, these policies have to be perfectly designed and set out in black and white in a document to which all of the employees have access. It should be remembered that this is not a static document, but rather the policy can and must evolve to adapt to the needs and the situation of the company.
If a travel agency or external travel manager is involved in the process, it is important that they offer full visibility in terms of the options available in order to be able to make the most suitable choice, not only for the corporate traveller but also for the company. What commonly happens is that the employee ‘filters’ the options a little to leave those that interest them the most. However, as a result, significant saving opportunities can be missed, or considerable surcharges can be incurred.
Another good practice is to ensure that the real cost of the trip is made visible to the traveller. This includes not only the expenses that they have incurred and which they have to itemize on their expense report, but also other costs such as agency charges, bookings made and paid for directly by the company, etc.
Supervision of expense reports
For effective record management, it is important to have the documents and receipts related to the different sources of expenses. For instance, agencies often send a monthly summary of the transactions made by each employee or department, and we need bank statements for the bank reconciliation of travel expenses, etc. Therefore, the best option is to manage all of these documents in an integrated process with a single workflow.
Supervising expense reports is usually a time-consuming and tedious process. As a result, most companies opt for taking a sample. The problem with this approach is that it only detects a small proportion of the cases of the errors, abuse or even fraud that are present in the expense reports. Moreover, if the company has an expenses policy but does not supervise its application, it is very difficult to get employees to apply it. As such, it is extremely handy to use tools that automate the supervision of expense and mileage claim spreadsheets to ensure more effective control. Furthermore, it represents a significant saving in terms of time and resources.
Administration of expense reports
Once again, automation represents a saving opportunity. In this case, it is a matter of expense accounting. If a company has lots of identical settlements, it is not very efficient to have to record them one by one. However, there are certain tools that enable you to automate this task, without diminishing the visibility of the data, in order to carry out subsequent analysis.
Companies’ expenditure on corporate travel can be considerable. As such, it is vital to have a budget for this purpose. The comparison between budgeted and real expenses is extremely useful for controlling costs, improving budgets, having a more realistic overview of travel requirements, etc.
Along the same lines, having expense assignment criteria is a big help. For the company to be able to analyse expenses properly, it has to be able to assign them to their customers, processes, projects, etc. Therefore, it needs to be able to ask its employees to provide this information, but using an expense and mileage claim report form or template that is flexible enough to adapt to the possible changes that may occur in this respect. It has to achieve this without distorting the other aspects of expense analysis or complicating the reporting task excessively for the corporate traveller.