Business expenses can get out of hand when oversight and management are lacking.
CFOs can help to minimize employee overspending and mitigate fraud with these tips.
As businesses grow, one of the biggest expenses CFOs are likely to have is business travel. Depending on the type of business it is, individuals in management will likely meet with clients, travel to conferences, or run errands for the organization. Without proper oversight, organizations could face poor visibility when it comes to spending, a lack of control over employee expenditures, a high cost of expense processing, and lengthy reimbursement cycles.
Since many expenses related to business travel are sometimes reimbursed, employees may tend to take advantage of this and add personal expenses to the list when turning in their reimbursement forms. CFOs have to be on guard against this by keeping employees who do travel on the company’s behalf honest and by keeping short lists.
Common travel costs that include hotel stays and meals should be clearly noted on receipts or memo lines. If your organization has a partnership with specific chains, provide a convenient reference sheet to save time. Some employees look for low-priced hotels to save money, but end up paying more than they would have if they went with the partner company.
Companies typically spend around 10-12% of their general costs on employee travel. Here are a few tips to help manage these expenses:
1. Have an All-Inclusive Travel Policy
The company’s travel policy should be all-inclusive—that is, all relevant bookings are made beforehand by one person. This process could include flight tickets, in-flight meals and WiFi fees, hotel stays, and vehicle rentals or ride-sharing trips. The company must be strict about these, making it clear that overages will be the employee’s responsibility.
2. Keep Track of Everything
Ask employees to maintain receipts and document expenses. The expense report must be submitted within three to seven days of return. It is important to regulate timelines and to analyze every expense logged for reimbursement.
3. Regulate Reimbursement Policies
Regulate the reimbursement policies and communicate such policies to your employees ahead of time. Explain the process of submitting expense receipts, and how, when, and for what employees will be reimbursed. It’s important to have a reimbursement policy that works for your company and your employees so everyone is more likely to follow it and less likely to cheat.
4. Simplify the Process
If you want employees to submit expense reports on time, make such submissions easy. Submitting expenses online simplifies the process for everyone, especially using mobile devices and ARP (automated receipt processing), which allows employees to add receipts to any report by filling in the details for them. Consider structuring your reporting system to display a wide variety of reports. Employees shouldn’t need to click on multiple tabs to input their information and CFOs shouldn’t need to click through multiple programs to compare data sets or figure out why the numbers seem off. A single panel view gives an at-a-glance look at the most important metrics.
While rigid guidelines must be enforced throughout, it is important to take your employees’ preferences into consideration. If employees are satisfied that their needs have been considered, they likely will accept extra regulations in good spirits.