• Workforce management

Managing expense management: an all-encompassing guide

Aude Creveau

Analysts expect the market for expense management software to grow to a value of $17.4 billion by 2027.

This figure reflects the growing importance of expense management in small and medium enterprises. A lot of businesses incur significant employee expenses, and failure to manage these properly can have disastrous results for the efficiency of a business.

Whether you conduct expense management in-house or let a third party do it for you, there are certain guiding principles you should always be aware of.

Read on as we look at these principles in greater detail and outline an effective expense management framework for companies in 2020.

What is expense management?

Expense management is the system companies put in place to record and reimburse business expenses incurred by employees. There are many different kinds of business expenses; travel costs for workers going on business trips are perhaps the best-known example.

Reimbursing these kinds of expenses increases employee satisfaction, and therefore increases employee retention.

Drafting an employee expense management policy

There are many different things to conwhsider when you're putting your expense management policy together. We've looked at a few of the most important here.

1. What you will reimburse

The list of recoverable expenses doesn't tend to change much from one workplace to the next. Most employers cover travel, meals, accommodation, software licenses and education and training.

When it comes to travel expenses, it's a good idea to be clear on what does and does not constitute an acceptable expense. For instance, you might have to reimburse an employee for airline tickets, but not first-class airline tickets.

If your employees need to entertain business contacts using company money, set out clear limitations on what they can and what they cannot put down as an expense.

2. What you won't reimburse

Most employers have a list of costs that don't qualify as recoverable expenses. Common examples include alcohol and any fines (such as traffic fines) that employees incur on business trips.

3. How to submit expenses

Having a detailed system for expense submission is vital. It minimizes processing delays and lessens the risk of miscalculation.

Any employee who submits expenses should have a clear idea of the details they need to include, the receipts they need to provide, and the deadlines for doing so.

4. When to submit expenses

You should have consistent deadlines for expense submission. These can be monthly or quarterly, depending on your preference. The important thing is that they're regular, as this minimizes confusion and promotes efficiency.

5. How expenses are reimbursed

Again, clarity is the key here. You need employees to be in no doubt as to how and when they will get their money back after an expenses claim. Many employers choose to add any expense monies in with an employee's regular monthly salary.

You should keep as much of your expense management framework online as possible. This minimizes the risk of lost data.

6. The penalties for fraudulent claims

Every employer likes to think that they can trust their workers. While this is usually true in the majority of cases, there is always a risk that someone will try to scam you when filing expenses.

To mitigate this risk, you need to have strict penalties in place for anyone who submits a fraudulent claim. This deterrent should be enough to stop most of these kinds of claims.

The sanctions for this are up to you. They will usually depend on the severity of the offense. Someone who carelessly submits a claim for too much on one occasion could face a small wage fine. For someone who deliberately and consistently abuses the system for their own gain, you may need to consider termination. 

Best practices for expense management

While expense management can occasionally cause headaches, it should not cause too much trouble in your company if you stick to procedures that work. If you are consistent in your approach, you'll minimize confusion in relation to the process and promote satisfactory outcomes for both yourself and your employees.

Some important expense management best practices include:

  • Setting out a clear policy
  • Making the process as simple as you can for employees
  • Approving expenses as quickly as you can after receiving claims
  • Providing clear feedback as to why a certain expense was rejected
  • Use online solutions wherever you can

Adhering to these practices will make expense management simpler for both you and your workers.

How expense management software can help

As is the case for many essential workplace processes nowadays, expense management is a lot easier if you put the right software solution in place. There are a number of reasons for this, including:

  • The simplification of the expense reporting process
  • The clarity of information requirements on standardized claim forms
  • The avoidance of any issues with paper receipts (loss, damage, and so on)
  • More efficient reviewing
  • Time saved through self-service expense reporting
  • Increased adherence to deadlines because of email alerts

There are many different expense management software programs, all of which should offer these features. However, to maximize efficiency, you should consider getting an integrated HR software service like ours. Our automated expense management system will streamline your HR processes by keeping all your important data in one place.


Getting the right expense management software

Expense management can seem like a tedious consideration at times. However, if you want to keep your business as efficient as possible, you need to come up with an expense management tracking tool and an approval process that's simple and effective.

Given the technology currently available, online expense tracking is the way to go.

Our online HR software supports expense management, saves time, and takes the hassle out of administrative tasks, allowing you to focus on the things that are truly important for your business.

Allow employees to submit their expenses via mobile app in real time and enjoy quick and easy approval workflows in a user friendly interface.

If you'd like to see how kiwiHR can help you implement effective online expense management software, sign up for a free trial today.

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