This allows for time to look for areas to improve in the new year and to best position your business for success. Whether you lead a small business or the finance department in a larger organization, here are some tips to consider as you review how your business writes, processes and stores your expense and invoice policies.
Start with transparency
Do you know where your company’s money is going? Many financial decision-makers don’t—approximately one third of Canadian finance decision-makers feel it is very difficult to provide accurate updates on a vendor payment status. Having an automated accounts payable system with full visibility allows for transparency into the overall spend and cash flow of your business. Platforms that capture and collect employee spend make it easier to analyze trends and decrease the risk of internal fraud or losing documentation of cash flow.
Drop the jargon
Jargon creates misalignment between communicating the company’s policies and how the employees interpret it. Ambiguous policies can also create grey areas and differing interpretations among managers approving expense reports. In small organizations where there is one boss to approve expenses, it can be easier to clarify questions. However, in larger organizations with many different managers, vague policies can result in varying approval decisions. Using strong, clear and plain language in your policies makes it easier for your employees to understand and follow the rules, makes it easier for managers to know what they can and can’t approve, and makes it easier for your finance team to enforce your policies across the board.
Ensure policies are visible
Policies that are difficult to find, like ones that are buried inside a folder in a desk, will not be used properly by employees or worse, not used at all. Having a system or cloud-based platform to keep your policies accessible and top-of-mind ensures clarity and results in fewer flagged or unapproved expense reports.
Make efficiency a priority
Don’t underestimate the cost of manually processing an invoice. If your business is small, manual processing might not seam like that big of a task, but as the organization grows, this becomes a greater use of your company’s valuable time and resources. A recent report by SAP Concur estimates 60 per cent of the finance team’s time could be saved, or approximately 10.8 hours per week, if they were using a more efficient and automated accounts payable solution.
As you look to automate expense reporting, consider how you might be able to improve the experience with a mobile expense solution. Cloud-based solutions that leverage artificial intelligence let employees snap a photo of their receipt on the go and let the system automatically convert it to an expense report line item. Using technology that fits with employee’s lives makes work happen seamlessly and lets them focus on the tasks that help drive the business forward.
As you wrap up 2018, consider how you can start the new year with expensing and invoicing policies that will scale with your business, give you visibility and keep your business practices efficient.
By Kevin Craig, Managing Director, SAP Concur Canada.
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