The three “C”s of expense and invoice policy compliance

How wonderful would it be if you only had to tell someone something once?

Unfortunately, real life doesn’t always work that way, and this is especially true when it comes to your company policies. The truth is that you can’t simply write expense or invoice policies and put them in an employee manual, expecting them to be followed. No, if you want people to follow your policies—and protect your business—you need to call on the three “C”s of compliance: collaboration, comprehension and communication.

 

For more guidance, download our report on compliance best practices

 

1. Collaboration

If you’re going to maximize the chances of your employees buying into your company’s compliance policies, it’s wise to get their input from the start. Meet with your department heads to discuss current policies and processes to find out whether they’re feasible, realistic and achievable, as well as whether or not they can be applied fairly across the board.

Set clear deadlines for acknowledgement and acceptance from your department heads. Your compliance policies might be at the top of your to-do list, but they won’t be at the top of theirs.

If you don’t have existing policies, use this expense policy template and this invoice policy template as a starting point. (While you’re at it, take a look at our travel policy template, too.)

 

2. Comprehension

There’s a tendency for the language around compliance to be dry, technical and jargon-heavy. While this might be fine for experts like you who encounter this type of vocabulary daily, it won’t be appealing—or even understandable—to anyone outside the finance team. And that makes it less likely to be followed.

Make sure your policies are easy to read and understand. Even more importantly, make sure they’re written in a way that is informative and intelligent, not preachy and prescriptive—never has the adage “speak as you would like to be spoken to” been more apt. Consider too the different ways by which people like to access information. Would some people take more away from watching a slideshow or listening to a recording? You should also ensure employees know to whom they should reach out if they have any questions.

 

3. Communication

The final step is to make sure your policies are communicated effectively and embedded in your company’s way of working. Make sure copies of your policies are easy to find and up-to-date at all times. From then on, you need to be thinking about what’s needed to turn the theory into practice. Formal training sessions for current employees and a strategy for onboarding new hires should be considered.

Or, you might think about setting deadlines for people to acknowledge receipt of the policies and/or having a quiz to check people understand what’s required of them. When everything is up and running, you could continue to motivate employees by recognizing and rewarding those that follow the policies, or by recruiting the best employees to help coach those that consistently struggle.

 

Bonus: Consider the rewards

You may be responsible for compliance in your business, but achieving it will be a team effort. The best way to keep everyone on board is to remind them that compliance isn’t something that can be avoided, rather it’s something that needs to be embraced as a vital part of the ongoing success of the business. Because compliance isn’t a “nice-to-have,” it’s essential, and the business consequences of falling short are severe.

To learn more about closing the gaps in compliance, read our report.

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