The following article has been transcribed from an original NetSuite ERP and Nexonia Expenses webinar. We had some really great customer questions during that session, so we’ve sliced and diced the best parts for you below.
Personally, I’ve been creating, submitting and approving expense reports for quite a few years in a variety of roles in different companies. When I ask someone about their current expense reporting process and they tell me it’s manual, we both exchange a pained look. Because we’ve both been there: trying to submit expense reports, copy and staple receipts, struggling to provide the right details. I’ve heard common stories about employees wasting a day or more trying to do their expense reports. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the time involved from a finance team side of things with approvals, compliance and entering the information into the accounting system.
There’s the challenge of timeliness: trying to get the expenses in on time, chasing down employees to submit before the close of the books at the end of the month, following up with these employees to get their credit card transactions and receipts, the annoyances are seemingly endless. With paper receipts, there’s also the issue of visibility, storage and trying to track people down or find receipts that should have been included with the report. Suddenly, these receipts have a way of disappearing from the expense reports when you’re trying to find it during an audit!
With manual expense reporting, there’s data re-working that needs to be completed by the finance and accounting staff. If you’re someone at this end of the process, you’re probably familiar with all the corrections to expense reports that you’ve had to adjust, making sure things are coded to the correct GL account, for example.
A financial administrator needs to keep on top of obtaining outright compliance with their corporate expense policies. Frequent expense report submitters will, of course, probably know the policies backwards and forwards, but your occasional once a month expense reporters, well, they probably don’t know the policies. They’ll likely have a lot of questions. And really, that’s resulting in more re-work on the approval side of things. And more back and forth.
And finally, there’s the challenges of reporting. If your expense reporting systems are spread out across Excel sheets, NetSuite ERP system and your credit card company, trying to compile everything in just one place to simply get a report can be a headache. Getting any visibility about where you stand with the expenses can be difficult, not to mention the challenges of corporate credit card reconciliation, personal credit cards, and for travelers, having to deal with foreign currency exchange rates and value added tax systems.
Well, that’s where Nexonia comes in. Nexonia Expenses provides an end to end expense solution, from the creation of the expense report, through the approval process, and exporting into NetSuite ERP, all fully integrated with your NetSuite system.
We’re constantly enhancing our integration with NetSuite, and we currently have over 300 settings available with the NetSuite integration. As a result, there’s a lot of configuration that can be done to your Nexonia account, so we’ll try and address just a handful of questions we tend to get during a demonstration of our NetSuite and Nexonia Expenses integrated solution.
Q: “Is there a way to limit which customers, departments, classes and projects are available to the user according to what group they’re in?”
Absolutely. Nexonia has some fantastic filtering abilities. We can actually get quite granular in terms of showing the employee end user only what we’d like them to see, tailoring these settings so that these users see only what is completely necessary to complete their expenses.
One of the most common features we integrate with is NetSuite Project Resources. This means that we copy the same project resource assignments from NetSuite, and apply them as filtered values for the user. You can manage resourcing in NetSuite and know the employee will be only be allowed to choose from their assigned projects when coding expenses.
There are also ways to restrict visibility and filter values within the Nexonia configuration, such as filtering expense categories by role or project, or filtering which departments, locations, or classes the user can choose from. There’s all types of different ways you can filter those results, showing the employee only what they need to see in order to do the expense, not overwhelming them with every option available under the sun.
We can also use a NetSuite’s custom field checkbox if you only want select dimension values integrated into Nexonia – if you don’t want every employee imported into Nexonia as users, we can filter and only bring in the ones you want.
Q: “Does someone need to be a NetSuite user in order to use Nexonia?”
Not at all. The Nexonia Implementation team would simply need the person to be set up as either an Employee or Vendor in NetSuite in order to generate a Nexonia User account for them. We would only need one NetSuite user with Administrator credentials in order to integrate Nexonia and NetSuite. This allows us to have the permission to integrate via web services.
Q: “Am I just limited to reporting on my NetSuite dimensions?”
Nexonia supports a vast array of custom fields; whether you require them and we integrate them with a Custom Field in NetSuite, or they exist solely here on Nexonia as a way to enforce a unique policy rule, or as a way to gather information that you want for reporting. For example, say we create a custom field for your expenses called, ‘Paid To Vendor’. Now, since the credit card transactions provide the vendor, we can automatically map that value into its own reporting field on the expense item – you’d be able to now run reports on spend by the business you bought from and explore some preferred vendor discounts!
Or, let’s say you have a field called ‘Business Purpose’, where users have to state what the reason for that trip was. Those fields can be a text-only form where they manually enter in information, or they can be drop-down menus that are pre-populated with information you’ve set up in the system.
Q: “Do you support different rates between different subsidiaries in the USA and Canada?”
Yes, absolutely. Let me walk you through something that works in the background of the Nexonia platform. It’s called ‘Regions’. What this means is that we can set up different regions and have different default rules in place. For example, you can have default currencies for your Canadian employees and your U.S. employees. In a NetSuite Single Entity account, you can create Regions in Nexonia. With a NetSuite OneWorld account, we’d create your Regions automatically based on your entities – each Entity becomes a Region.
Now with Regions, there’s a number of things we can support with that. For example, the filtering of specific customers or projects, or even specific categories. With the Expense categories, you can set up all these rules and policies, and basically dictate exactly which rules are in place for which Regions.
If you have a limit of $50.00 USD per meal for the U.S. employees, but let’s say $40.00 CAD for Canadian employees, you’re going to have those different rules in place, and the system will support them. In this way, you can set up different rules and policies for your different Regions. Now Regions are typically geographic. But you can actually apply these to any other grouping concepts you need. What I mean is, Regions can be geographic regions for different locations you have, or they can represent different corporate entities that we can support.
Q: “My employees always forget to add in notes on the billable expenses – how can I fix that?”
The Memo Field on the expense item can be made mandatory. That means that if an employee doesn’t add a memo, the item wouldn’t be able to be submitted. We can filter that requirement, so the memo could be made mandatory for specific expense categories, or only made required in the event of an expense policy violation.
If there’s specific details you want from employees, you could create a custom field for that and make that a requirement for submitted expenses. And, if the expense approver isn’t satisfied with the memo, they can reject that report back to the employee to clarify.
Q: “Does a user receive an email for each overdue expense report, or just one email a day, telling them their expenses are overdue?”
Good question. When you use Nexonia and have an overdue expense report, you’ll receive a summary email. So, if I have five credit card charges that I haven’t expensed yet and they’re aging past a certain point (let’s say five business days), I just get one email at the start of the day with a list of the outstanding credit card charges. So, yes, you won’t be bombarded with five different emails at once, the reminder will just be one summary email at the start of the day.
Q: “Does Nexonia support credit cards issued from most major financial institutions in North America?”
We support integrating via a number of transaction sources, and we’re continuously investigating other availabilities for further credit card feed advancements. So yes, we integrate with the vast majority of credit card institutions across North America and also support several others from around the rest of the world as well. This means credit card charges would appear in Nexonia after posting, and be available for coding or reporting. You get visibility into credit card based spend sooner, rather than waiting until the point when the statement comes in or the expense gets submitted.
Q: “Is receipt-matching based on the amount or are there data points?”
Receipt matching is based on date and amount information stored at the receipt image level, and matched against the expense item – either one you create as out of pocket or (my favourite timesaver) against the credit card transaction data.
As best practice, I photograph and save my receipts. I add receipt data, either manually or via OCR, and when I go to do my credit card expenses, the receipts are matched with the transactions already – I just need to confirm it’s the right receipt it’s found and I’m set!
Q: “Is each specific expense approved, or can all expenses on one report be approved in one approval?”
This can work either way. Essentially, the way it works is that all the expense items are submitted within the expense report. These expenses exist as line items, so you can either select the entire report and all the items in it and sign off on them, or you can pick and choose exactly which ones you want to approve and which ones you want to reject. Now, that’s just the default value. You don’t have to bottleneck the process and hold up a large reimbursement while you try to clear up that $5 parking expense you have a question about.
We can also set up certain features in place so you can make it all or nothing if you need that feature in place. If you want all of the expenses to just simply be approved within one report, the user won’t be able add any more after that point. That’s a default we can set up in the system as well.
Q: “Can the Approver, such as the Accounting Department, edit the expense on behalf of an employee for minor changes?”
Absolutely. Depending on how you want to craft the approval process, you can give your approvers the ability to make edits. When they make a correction for something, the employee will also get notified via email that something was changed. That way, we’re encouraging clear communication and keeping the employee in the loop.
You can also grant this overwrite editing ability to every Approver in the process, or just certain Approvers – it’s entirely up to you. Let’s say your expense goes through to a reporting manager, and then to a project manager, and then to the accounting department for final approval. You could very easily have it set up so that the manager and the project manager only have “approve and reject” abilities. But Accounting, the final approver, can have the ability to make edits or changes. So again, Nexonia Expenses is fully configurable. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can grant that ability to specific stages of the approval process if you want to.
You can also add proxy permission to specific users in Nexonia. Proxy settings are automatically defaulted features for any administrators in Nexonia, but we can also add this feature for other specific roles. For instance, if managers need to be able to view expenses for all of their direct reports, we can support that, not a problem. If you want specific employees to be designates or proxies and create expenses for other employees, such as an executive assistant for a bunch of executives, Nexonia can support that as well.
Q: “How does the data transfer between Nexonia Expenses and NetSuite?”
The synchronization against your NetSuite instance runs every 24 hours. At approximately 4am while you’re asleep (unless you’re one of those early risers!), the system automatically looks for any changes you made to your NetSuite dimensions that day and updates Nexonia with those changes, while also exporting fully approved expense reports to NetSuite. Of course, you can also do this data synchronization manually, whenever you want at the click of a mouse. With expense reports, Nexonia also sends a PDF copy of the expenses, along with all the expense data into NetSuite. That way, you’ll have a record with full receipt information easily accessible for any future auditing situations.
Now when it comes to exporting data, we’re not limited to just sending it to NetSuite. We can also support simultaneous exports wherever you need them to go. For example, if you need information to be sent to Bill.com for payable reimbursements, Nexonia can send that information over as a separate report. If you have an in-house system, we can create separate reports that you can pull fully formatted into your local system. If you need the receipts sent to a third party such as SmartVault, or you need your expenses sent for reimbursement for direct deposit via ACH or through ADP, we can make that happen. The efficiency of Nexonia means that we can break out simultaneous export reports and send them where they need to go.
What to expect next…
As I mentioned before, there are hundreds of different features we can turn on or off with the Nexonia-NetSuite integration. There’s a lot of advanced features that Nexonia offers and I know it can look overwhelming. However, we will actually be with you live on the call during the implementation phase. We’ll book some time with you, and walk through the setup of your account. We’ll work with you to get your layout correct; make it as easy as possible, and as intuitive as possible for your employees to do their expenses. User training and accessible support are also included with the service, because setting our customers up for success is the cornerstone of our success. You can call us. You can email us. We’re more than happy to help.
It’s always easier to see how Nexonia Expenses integrates with NetSuite, especially as it relates to your unique account settings and policies. Book a personalized demo and see it for yourself.