“Fraud” is such an ugly word, which is exactly the reason some managers are wont to ignore it when it crops up in travel expense reports. They may instead refer to the practice as “stretching the truth,” or “padding the expense accounts” and ignore it altogether. They may be hesitant to call attention to the practice when it’s ingrained in company culture and those engaging in it are well-liked colleagues or friends.
A crackdown on expense claim fraud could hurt company morale, others say, while they allow the practice to continue and company funds slip down the drain. Research conducted by the UK firm Webexpenses uncovered numerous ugly truths about the ugly thing called fraud.
The research found UK businesses could save nearly $150 million every year if they cracked down on expense fraud. Some of the bolder examples of padding the accounts included employees seeking reimbursement for pay toilet use in the train stations on the way to a meeting and claiming mileage for a trip from a client’s office to their home.
A full 25 percent of employees admitted to engaging in expense account padding, especially when they said they weren’t aware of the policies in the first place. Lack of expense management software also made it easier to bend the rules, they said, with nearly 10 percent noting their expenses were never questioned or checked.
Lower-ranked employees may also feel they can get away with it when they see top executives pulling the same kind of shenanigans. The only feasible way to eradicate the practice is to start at the top, which takes a firm hand and courage. Employees need to be reminded that expense reporting is not a job perk, but rather a valid way to get reimbursed for valid expenses covered by the company.
How Software Helps
Bringing in streamlined expense management solutions will help. Sure, it may irk some employees used to filling their reports with fraudulent mileage, but it can save your company a bundle.
A high-tech solution can bring better awareness to company policies and make reporting easier, especially if you find a solution that offers an employee-friendly mobile expense app. A computerized system also de-personalizes the entire process. Managers are no longer denying expenses face-to-face to likable colleagues and friends. The system is simply keeping track of what can and cannot be reported.
Try a high-tech option with your own built-in company policies and approval routing rules – try expense report software from Chrome River.
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Our choice of Chrome River EXPENSE was made in part due to the very user-friendly interface, easy configurability, and the clear commitment to impactful customer service – all aspects in which Chrome River was the clear winner. While Chrome River is not as large as some of the other vendors we considered, we found that to be a benefit and our due diligence showed that it could support us as well as any large players in the space, along with a personalized level of customer care.
We are excited to be able to enforce much more stringent compliance to our expense guidelines and significantly enhance our expense reporting and analytics. By automating these processes, we will be able to free up AP time formerly spent on manual administrative tasks, and enhance the role by being much more strategic.