The five biggest pains in the expense review process

Chances are, being a savvy business professional; you’ve dealt with the headaches of paper expense reports by moving to an automated solution in the cloud, like Concur. But auditing expense reports can still add layers of pain, unless you find the right solution.  


Wasting time and money

Business people don’t often think about a better way to audit. Especially if they’ve gotten used to the old way of doing expenses on spreadsheets, they assume it’s just one of those things – a necessary evil you have to put up with. But consider – the traditional process of auditing expense reports is a tedious time-suck. Accounting Manager Ken Bruch has told Concur that “…reviewing receipts in my opinion is the longest time consumption when processing expense reports.” Other businesses tell us that tasks often get shifted to one person, who is soon buried in the process of collecting receipts and expense reports and comparing one to the other until his or her eyes glaze over. While that person is spending hours or days every month auditing expenses, other work piles up, undone, as the stress level goes through the roof.  


Lots at stake

There’s a lot at stake here.After all, we’re told that auditing the old fashioned way usually means pushing through a tremendous amount of reports in a short period of time, often in less than two days. Given the sheer volume, there’s no way that person has time to scrutinize each one in detail.Businesses tell us that in the worst cases, 60 to 80% of the reports simply get “rubber-stamped,” so no-one’s really reviewing them. And high costs hide in those reports. Oversight Systems 2015 T&E Spend report found that 20% of 160,000 travelers in the sample had at least 1 exception on their expense report. Within their analysis, 11%, or more than one in ten travelers triggered an exception multiple times. It’s not really the reviewer’s fault at that point, but stuff slides by.  


What kind of stuff?

Big stuff.Weird stuff. True stories – like the business traveler who expensed a pregnancy test, because she’d risked getting pregnant on a business trip. Or the claim for $45 worth of gasoline: where most people would submit a receipt for the claim, this user thought it would be good enough to take a picture of the gas pump and submit that to claim his $45 for business use. That’s not exactly legally acceptable documentation.  


The five biggest pains

So here are the five biggest expense review pains in auditing expense reports, according to the businesses we work with every day:

  • Time Pressure – even though the C suite will tell you they have people looking at those expense reports, someone at a high level is painfully aware of the amount of time double-checking those reports is taking at least one employee, and is wondering what the organization can do to save that time and get more productive.
  • Bad Cop – iswhat hardly anyone wants to be, yet the person who ends up auditing the expense reports has to call or walk over to the desk of the errant user and tell them what they did wrong. A genuine solution would automatically follow up with a user who submitted a suspect expense, de-fusing personal issues.
  • Unclear Policy –When the policy is unclear, because it’s non-existent, badly written, or hard to find, it cuts across all levels of expense reporting. If people don’t know what’s permissible, the same errors will show up over and over again, costing time and money, assuming they’re caught at all. And the only way travelers are learning what not to do is when they get their hand slapped for a mistake – about the least efficient kind of training there is.
  • Scalability – Simply stated, how do you scale an organization if you’re drowning in expense processing?Even if the perception is that “we don’t have a problem” that assumes everyone’s going to be in the office and sharp all the time, without vacations, sick days or rush times of the year. Here’s another example: if there’s one person who reviews the majority of expense reports, and the number of employees who submit reports grows with the business, at some point, you’ll have to add another reviewer just to keep up. And what happens if one of those reviewers leaves the company?
  • Missing the vision – you didn’t get into this business (whatever it is) to audit expense reports. If people are buried in piles of receipts, how can they focus on what matters most?Organizations overwhelmed by audit tasks can’t lift their heads high enough to see the big picture, and in the meantime, opportunities for growth slip away.


Pain relief

Join our upcoming webinar, “Taking the pain out of the expense review process” and learn how Concur can help you catch more expense errors, increase policy compliance, and improve productivity. Register today!




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