Why Jargon Doesn’t Belong in Your Expense Policy Template

“Uh huh. Uh huh. Okay. Um, can you repeat the part of the stuff where you said all about the things?”

-     Homer Simpson

A jargon-laced expense report template may seem intuitive on the surface, but when asked to follow it employees will need continuous clarification. Even if they ask more eloquently than Homer Simpson, this is still a problem because:

  • Clarification takes time, for employees and administrators
  • Vagueness leads to unnecessary costs
  • Being told you’re out of compliance is extremely frustrating, especially when making an honest effort to comply

In case you’re unfamiliar with jargon, here are a few examples of general business jargon – and a few examples within the examples – to get you started:

  • Address [v.] This word can be used as a replacement for ‘do’, ‘tackle’, or ‘complete’, but avoids holding anyone accountable for a specific action. “Addressing or not addressing the tough topics could mean the difference between a bag of snakes and a banner year.”
  • Brass tacks [n.] This refers to fundamental business information or practices. “We need to scale back on our blue sky thinking and get back to brass tacks. But first, let’s schedule a brain dump to define what our brass tacks are.”
  • Triangulate [v.] This means to involve a third person or party. “The brass tacks brain dump sound like a terrific idea, but I’ll first need to triangulate with Tom and talk turkey to ensure we properly address this.”

Right now you’re probably saying, “That’s great but let’s get down to brass tacks. What might jargon look like in my expense policy template?”

Expense policy jargon might include words or phrases like itemized, expenditures, carrier, advanced booking, cancellation, personnel, incurred, denied boarding, reasonable expenses – any phrases that aren't crystal clear or may imply different things to different people.

 

Here are examples of expense policy template statements that are open to interpretation:

 

Travelers will be reimbursed only for expenses deemed to be in the best interest of the company.

Oh sure, best interest of the company, got it.

If convenient public transportation is not available, a person traveling locally may be reimbursed for automobile travel in excess of normal mileage between the person's home and primary work station.

Can you repeat the part of the stuff where you said all about the things?

You are allowed to expense reasonable gratuities for baggage assistance.

They knew I was a high roller when they hired me.

So why is jargon hard to deal with, and why should you eliminate it from your expense report form starting today?

  • It's not straightforward or universal, and not everyone will know immediately what you're talking about
  • Unnecessarily complicated policies are harder to follow because they're harder to understand. Expense tracking becomes increasingly tedious and your policy becomes harder to enforce
  • A lack of understanding leads to frustration and miscommunication, and as a result your policy may not be kept

 

Do yourself and your employees a favor. Make it easy for everyone to read and understand your expense policy template by:

  • Keeping the rules simple
  • Keeping language intuitive
  • Avoiding vague, unclear guidelines. Be specific. When necessary, add clear definitions for any language that might be confusing

Ridding your expense policy template of jargon will allow your employees to remember the details of your expense policy, making it super easy for them to follow it.

 

Expense reporting affects every part of your business. Learn why more companies are moving beyond ‘blue sky thinking’ and are ‘triangulating’ with Concur to get down to the ‘brass tacks’ of automated expense reporting advantages. Don’t ‘address’ it, fix it.

 

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