Taking advantage of supplier credit terms—paying invoices as close to their due dates as possible—is one strategy accounts payable departments employ to help manage cash flow. But when it comes to reimbursing employees for T&E expenses, this practice might not be the best policy. In fact, there are clear arguments supporting the transition from manual to automatic expense report processing and payments. These arguments can give hope to AP administrators who want to provide better internal customer service while simplifying their workflow.
Facing Down the Consequences
Weaknesses in a company’s travel expense reporting processes can affect timely reimbursement of expenses and lead to employee dissatisfaction and decreased productivity. Unwanted “side effects” of an inefficient expense reimbursement process may include:
- Employees waiting for reimbursements have to delay paying personal bills
- Employees miss out on professional development opportunities because of payment bottlenecks
- Valuable employees who frequently travel for work may search for greener pastures if their unpaid expense reports consistently pile up
- Company image and employee morale can suffer, dragging corporate culture down with it
It’s undeniable: an inefficient expense reporting process and the late payments that ensue pose significant problems for everyone. When an employee’s effectiveness and productivity take a hit, both inside and outside of the office, so can their company’s bottom-line.
The Manual Hold-Up
When working with a manual expense reporting process, preparing a report for submission is painstaking and time-consuming. Employees need to collect receipts and piece them together, enter expense information into a spreadsheet or other software program, and most likely scan, print, mail or fax a stack of documents to their Finance department.
Once the expense report makes it to accounts payable, it undergoes its next set of manual logjams. Someone in AP has to check the materials for accuracy, make sure the necessary receipts and documents are attached, chase after any missing items, and send it through the approvals pipeline. Here, the paperwork can sit on managers’ desks for as long as it takes to get reviewed and signed. Eventually, the report is manually entered into the accounts payable system for final payment processing.
Automate for Faster Payments and Happier Employees
An automated expense reporting system like Nexonia Expenses streamlines the entire process, enabling business travelers, their managers and back office team to digitize virtually every step of expense reporting. Reports can be created, approved and processed through a web interface or mobile app. From the get-go, all documentation is automatically loaded into the report—image-captures of receipts and even credit card transactions that are synced through system integration. Employee reports are submitted sooner, with the required supporting documentation intact. Approvals and back-end processing run more smoothly and quickly, and payments are issued significantly sooner.
AP departments are busy enough processing supplier payments and doing their part to keep the financial wheels of the company turning. Employee T&E expense reimbursements don’t need to stand in the way or take the backseat to an organization’s mission-critical B2B payments. When there are tools available to automate the process, there’s no reason to struggle with manual inefficiencies, or dissatisfied employees—and that includes the AP team.
Stay tuned for more insights into the trends impacting the AP workflow.