One thing is certain, travel managers need to be talented jugglers. They provide travelers with the tools and processes they need to make trips convenient and productive. All the while, they make sure that policies are followed and costs are kept down.
But sometimes policy compliance can be complicated by the sensitive subject of fraud. Even the appearance between an innocent mistake by the traveler and a clear attempt at defrauding the company can be subtle. So how can the travel manager ensure that the traveler complies with policy to best avoid fraudulent activity?
Develop an awareness campaign. No traveler can be expected to comply with a policy that is vague or perhaps entirely unknown. Make sure your policy is in an easy to find location, like your company’s portal. Share the details of the policy with employees when they are hired and explain the impact they have to your company’s bottom line.
If the carrot doesn’t entice, the stick treatment lets them know that every expense report is logged, tracked, approved and audited as appropriate. This provides motivation to submit expenses correctly the first time, and also serves to warn employees that fraud detection mechanisms are in place.
Make periodic reminders. New employees will nod in understanding during orientation, but in reality they will remember little from that fire hose they’re drinking from. Post reminder messages where the travelers’ eyes are already looking – the very tools they’re using to book trips and ultimately submit expenses. Social collaboration tools like SalesForce.com’s Chatter can also be leveraged to form a “Road Warrior” community where travel managers can share tips, tricks and policy compliance reminders.
Cover your back. As unfortunate as this may be, fraud can’t always be chalked up to employee ignorance. It can be a challenge to detect fraudulent behavior and there is a social aspect of essentially accusing an employee of stealing. Ensure that you have the right process, tools and reporting to not only detect the nefarious behavior, but to back it up with cold, hard facts. Address the issue methodically rather than emotionally.
Check your work, then double-check it again. Automation can help detect fraud, but ultimately there are some scenarios that can only be caught by human eyes. Comparing the content of a receipt to the expense report allows travel managers to make a decision on the degree of reasonableness of the claim. As a result, it’s important to build an audit step into the process and ensure travelers are aware that their expense reports are being checked.
Every travel manager would like to believe the policy is being followed to a “T.” Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. With the right tools in place, travel managers can look closer to find either ignorant or purposeful violations. By putting in a little extra time and energy into policies, and keeping a close watch on reporting oddities, travel managers can give the juggling act a rest.