If you’re an employee of a business and as part of your role, you are required to submit and reclaim expenses, then you will probably know how frustrating it is to experience a delay in expense repayments – especially if you have paid for them from your own pocket. Expense items can include a myriad of things including fuel, accommodation, food, stationary and even flights and can add up to a significant amount in any given month. In my experience most companies don’t willfully delay expense payments, and when delays do occur it is usually due to a failure of the business process.
As with most business functions, when a company is just starting out there is often no clearly defined process, or workflow in place. Employees might simply be expected to staple their expense receipts to an expense sheet that you write out by hand (in most cases a sheet that has been photocopied a thousand times – and nobody knows where the original sheet can be found or can be bothered to create a new one). This can work adequately in a smaller organisation, but once you start to grow it is important to have a more structured approach.
This means establishing an expense management workflow that clearly defines the entire process from the point an employee obtains their receipt to the moment they are reimbursed. This will benefit all parties involved – the company and its employees by reducing errors, saving time and also reducing the likelihood of any potential errors or fraud.
Lost time is never found again.
An example of an expense approval workflow can look like this:
- Employee creates the expense report including photos of receipts/credit card statements etc.
- The employee submits the expense report according to pre-defined rules (for example the approver might vary depending upon the value of the receipt).
- The approver reviews the report to decide is it meets company policy.
- The approver approves (or rejects) the expense report.
- The report is forwarded to accounts payable.
- The accounts department will then ensure the correct tax codes are entered into the expense report.
- The expense report is then posted to the GL.
- Payment is authorised and the employee reimbursed.
Of course, this whole process is quite labour intensive, it is time-consuming, and just because a process is written down somewhere it doesn’t necessarily follow that everybody will adhere to it. To take things to the next level you need to automate the whole process and implement an automated expense management system.
Imagine being able to use your Accounting/ERP system to manage the entire process. With NetSuite Expense Management you could be sitting in a restaurant on the other side of the world, purchase a meal, scan the receipt with your mobile phone or tablet, and enter the expense report even before you’ve finished your spinach and ricotta tortellini. The approver would then automatically be sent notification of the need to approve the report when they are sat at their desk eating their packet of Cheesy Wotsits. All expense categories and tax codes are applied automatically. The entire lifecycle of the expense approval process would be taken care of according to your unique business needs and accounting requirements.
Adopting NetSuite’s automated expense management system will reduce human error and save time for your employees – no more filling out grainy, photocopied expense reports, or worse still pleading with someone in your office to scan a copy of the expense form and email it to you to print off at home in time for the expense cut-off date because you used your last copy the previous month.
So, NetSuite’s automated expense management system not only saves time, creates an audit trail, and reduces errors – it will also improve job satisfaction for employees because they can receive payment for their expenses quicker!
If you would like to know more about NetSuite, please get in touch and speak to one of our experts:
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