Any finance professional will tell you that an accurate and timely quarter close is one of the most critical parts of their role. For finance leaders, this includes presenting a precise account of all incoming revenue and expenses to the board and investors.
Most of the data inputs required for quarter-end are taken from automated software solutions: sales bookings from the CRM system, revenue from the general ledger, corporate expenses from the accounts payable system, and so on. Another critical data input source is the employee expense management solution.
While most employees are eager to have their expenses reimbursed as quickly as possible, employees who delay their expense submission can reduce the accuracy of quarter-close numbers. Some sales executives and other frequent travelers – who incur thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars of travel and entertainment expenses each quarter – could have a material impact on the accuracy of a quarter’s numbers if theirs aren’t submitted promptly. Outstanding expenses may only add up to a few hundred dollars per employee, but that amount can significantly impact the big picture across the organization.
Related: Escape Expense Report Purgatory
What is the most significant reason expenses are not submitted on time? Often, the biggest challenge is simply the hassle of doing so. Although employees want to get reimbursed for their expenses, the sheer headache of creating and submitting expense reports (both using manual, receipt-and-spreadsheet methods, and cumbersome automated solutions) causes them to procrastinate. Of course, this can lead to a snowball effect, as the receipts continue to stack up, and the task of submitting expenses becomes increasingly more time-consuming.
The obvious answer is to make submitting expenses less arduous and time-consuming. One of the key ways to do this is by allowing expense receipts to be submitted at the time of purchase. Technology solutions make it possible to allow receipts (e.g., from travel bookings) to be forwarded to an expense solution as soon as the purchase is made. Another tool enables travelers to capture an image of a receipt (e.g., from a restaurant) on a mobile phone and simply upload it directly into the expense system. From here, the receipt is scanned, and the expense item is immediately created and ready for submission. These tools eliminate the need for employees to keep receipts accumulating in a menacing pile and instead encourage them to submit them promptly.
Cumbersome and time-consuming processes make employees more likely to put off tasks and negatively impact the employee experience. To combat this frustration, look for an expense tool that has an easy-to-use interface, that make it quick and easy for employees to submit expenses immediately.
Of course, should implementing tools fail, finance leaders have other options in their arsenal, such as enforcing an expense reimbursement window. However, implementing an easy-to-use expense management solution not only helps finance teams accurately track budgets but also helps to reduce the barriers for employees to submit expenses right away.
*, ** And yes, we use our own software to run our global business!
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.