This article was published on November 2, 2016

If receipts could talk: A quick-guide to reimbursements and expenses

If receipts could talk: A quick-guide to reimbursements and expenses
Lauren Gilmore
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Lauren Gilmore

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At some point, most employees must file for reimbursement – be it for a special event, client dinner, or business travel.

Usually stemming from a lack of clarity, filing those reports is still a dreaded task… even if your company owes you a good deal of money.

Additionally, the expense management process is a bigger headache than is ever necessary – encapsulating everything from managing submissions to financial reporting to analysis of spending.

Generally speaking, filing and managing expense reports is about as much fun as going to the dentist.

But with 2016 US travel spending expected to increase by 5.4 percent, it’s imperative these processes become simpler and more cost effective.

So we sat down with Boris Bogaert, CEO and Co-Founder of Xpenditure, and Robert Jan de Laive, CFO of TNW, for an inside look at how companies can fight fraud and forgetfulness, as well as some expense etiquette tips.

Encouragement and education

A lot of the time employees are told to ‘use their best judgement’. But this “budget best judgement” varies from person to person.

How you handle your expenses will say a lot about you as an employee – if you go hog-wild and blow hundreds of dollars at the bar, your boss might question your decision-making skills.

So it’s imperative that employers educate their employees:

Educate your employees on the practices of your company until it becomes habit. — Robert Jan

Love incentives? Teach employees to be better with budgets by giving leftover travel fund back as a quarterly bonus. Personally, I’d take a lonely meal at McDonalds and a fatter paycheck over spending my entire per diem any day. 

Paper trail

Lack of structure, with regards to expenses and reimbursements, is one of the most notable headaches for companies. TNW is no different. A year ago, employees not only had to keep up with every receipt they needed to turn in, they also had to figure out which basket to put their request into. Yes, I said basket.

Once that was done, it then became the task of sorting and filing.

And with 80 percent of European companies – twice the amount of America –relying on dated, error prone spreadsheet based solutions to manage employee expenses, a lot of markets are using a poor procedure.

Going digital doesn’t just alleviate the problem of duplicates, it also helps with efficiency; especially important when you’re a small organization. For TNW, switching to Xpenditure saves at least 50 percent of the time previously spent on reimbursements.

And if you’re going green, the fact that Xpenditure automates this previously manual procedure further reduces your reliance on paper.

Timing is everything

One of the best features of Xpenditure is the ability to snap a quick picture of your receipt. Not only does this speed up the process of recouping your money, but it also lessens the possibility of losing said receipt. After all, how many times have you hastily cleaned out your wallet or accidentally left the receipt at the restaurant.

At the very moment you pay, you can take a photo of your receipt with the Xpenditure app and directly upload it, automatically importing it into a claim report. –Boris

Not only does it take away any human error in losing the receipt, but it also notifies the employer, making them aware a transaction is coming through. You’ll be the office bookkeeper’s best friend. 

No receipt? That’s still not a problem as the company is pushing for integration with Uber and similar companies, as it’s hard to get a receipt from companies such as them. This way, the email confirmation you receive is directly imported into your report. 

Fraud happens

Purposefully or not, fraud happens. It could be as simple as submitting the same receipt twice, to attempting to invoice for your honeymoon (which actually happened at another company). Regardless, according to the US Chamber of Commerce, employee theft accounts for $20 billion to $40 billion loss annually.

And instead of subjecting your employees to a ‘Wall of Shame’, it’s probably better for moral to just make the process simpler. With transaction matching technology, purchases can be matched to bank card transactions automatically.

There are always people who – maybe on purpose, maybe not – expense the same receipt. As a controller, you don’t catch this yourself. But Xpenditure highlights and alerts you on potential mistakes. –Robert Jan

Especially if you run a global business. For TNW, with staff throughout the US, UK, India and, of course, the Netherlands, having an actual structure to the process of reimbursements is utterly important. But it also makes for some confusing times.

With so many governmental regulations, you need a efficient way to manage these various directives.

With 100,000 users in more than 60 countries, Xpenditure is available in multiple languages and has the functionality to reimburse employees based on their local currency. It also easily integrates into your business with little effort.

Final thoughts

Xpenditure isn’t a consultancy, instead, the company completely integrates into businesses, helping and enabling them to manage reimbursements and expenses

With major developments in the EU banking secrecy laws due in 2017, Xpenditure is readying updates to ensure European businesses can effectively manage employee expenses across multiple locations with ease.

Because baskets and shoeboxes aren’t an answer.

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