Expense categories for reimbursement
It is important to publish the regulations and categories relating to entertainment and travel expenses. When you outline the conditions pertaining to the reimbursement process, you can help to protect your business against fraudulent behavior and perform better spend management. Here are some examples of expense categories:
Travel and transport including: bus and train tickets, taxi fares, flight tickets
Business meals including: client entertainment dinners and meals during business conferences or occasionally delivered to the office
Office expenses including: IT equipment such as computers, desks, stationary or home-office supplies when working from home
Lodging including: accommodation for business activities such as conferences
It is important to note that certain types of expenses will not be fit for reimbursement. For example, personal grooming activities such as hair cuts are typically not able to be reimbursed through the business accounts. Highlighting this within your company reimbursement policy is also recommended.
Expense management process
The way that expenses are managed within your company depends on a number of factors, including its size, departmental hierarchy, and budget. However, building your expense management process from set workflows allows you to streamline the employee expense process.
There are five stages in the standard expense reimbursement process:
The pre-authorization phase of expense management includes checking your T&E policy to ensure that the expense claim has a high chance of approval prior to the purchase.
If this is manual, it may involve putting in a request form to the HR department or finance team. Alternatively, companies that automate the process should be able to streamline their approval and rejection process with built-in technology.
Finally, employees should know how they are expected to pay for business travel and entertainment expenses. For example, some businesses expect employees to bear the cost up-front on their own credit or debit cards. Alternatively, employees may be provided corporate credit cards in order to simplify the T&E process and reduce the financial pressure on individual members of staff.
The reporting phase of travel expense management refers to the responsibility of the employees.
In order to report the expenses that they have incurred, employees must know what kind of proof of purchase is required. For example, some businesses only accept paper receipts, while others will also take digital documentation that explains the purchase was made for business purposes.
Secondly, employees should be made aware of the timeline of expense reporting. For example: should expenses be declared in real time, within 7 days, 30 days, or 90 days. All of these stipulations should be clearly outlined within the published company expense policy.
The approval phase refers to the acceptance or denial of expense claims. Companies who perform this process manually can find it to be clunky and inefficient, but there are many forms of expense management software that can streamline the entire system.
The penultimate phase of expenses for business purposes is the actual reimbursement. Employees should know when to expect to see the remuneration from the T&E costs; this could include travel booking, rental car or an airfare, and the net amount they are expecting from accounts payable.
The final stage of your T&E spend process is accounting, aimed at helping your business track expenses and prepare for audit. For small businesses in particular, this could be the most crucial stage as you are unlikely to have access to large teams of accounting professionals.
As soon as an employee submits an expense claim, the finance team can work from a template in order to prepare the accounts and spending reports. The main benefit of T&E expenses is that they are tax deductible, so the department will be required to create financial statements in order to reflect this.
This phase is the most important to ensure your company stays compliant with all legal regulations. This reduces the risk of investigation from associations of certified fraud examiners and keeps you ready in case of audit.
Implementing a T&E policy
Every business will have a travel and expense policy. Automating your entire expense process helps maximize your company resources and lets your finance team focus on optimizing the business.
Simplify the process and reduce accounting mistakes by opting for a company-wide mobile app. This allows employees to request and submit expense claims from the comfort of their work-from-home office, and doesn't leave the finance team scrambling with mountains of paperwork.
Moreover, your department can digitize expense reports in seconds and automate receipt reimbursement to trigger reconciliation with immediate effect. Without waiting until the end of the month to collate expenses, the accounting team can work more efficiently and create a buffer around tax season.