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Expense Approval Process Automation Guide

Published On: August 30, 2022
By: Warren Jenkins

Expense management processes is one of the most essential business process workflow to help businesses organize their spending. Whether it be leadership teams, employees, or larger business purchases, an innovative expense approval process drastically improves expense management.

In the current expense management process, employees individually submit tracking of expenses, dates, and documentation of purchases. A finance professional then manually check over each employee’s spreadsheets, verifies all purchases, and approves claims.

When certain guidelines are not met or mistakes are made on tracking forms, the finance professional’s role is to identify them and return comments to the employee. Manual tracking of expenses is time-consuming and costly. This is because the accounting professionals are not working productively on any projects but rather performing monotonous spreadsheet scans.

By implementing a robust expense approval process, time-consuming manual communication between the financial professional and employee can be diminished. For example, if automated guidelines are placed, only specific and appropriate claims will be able to pass through; inappropriate claims would be automatically directed back to the employee for further documentation or approval. Business and employee expenses and overall claim reimbursements can operate more efficiently.

How to Fine-tune Your Expense Approval Process

Know the following before you start working on fine tuning your expense approval process.

  • An expense approval workflow should be easy to use and set up.
  • You need a reliable tool for your expense approval workflows.
  • A scalable expense approval tool allows you to add new workflows without having to rewrite code.
  • Automated expense approvals save money and improve accuracy.
  • Not everything has to be automated, only the most time consuming processes.

Automated expense approvals save money and drastically improve accuracy. According to ACFE, currently 5% of a typical organization’s annual revenue is lost to fraud due to problematic mistakes when approving expense claims. Thus, is very important that an expense approval workflow is easy to set up and straightforward for all users as well as be secure to prevent abuse and fraud.

expense approval process

First, businesses must consider what strain automation can cover. For example, automated systems can instantly identify human inconsistencies and highlight concerns.. Additionally, a scalable expense approval tool is customizable and allows various workflows to be added without new code being written.

For example, if certain items do not require receipts, the automated system can still accept these claims without manual communication with managers. In addition to automated systems, the quality of expense approval times and reimbursements can be improved by focusing on the training expense report management and approvers. Maintaining a high level of quality training for these positions assures that correct expenses can be approved with confidence.

Finally, this process can be tweaked even further by creating a safety net. Implementing an unbiased audit thoroughly checks through a company’s work objectively. By creating various levels of approval, experienced audit teams can update, manage and make suggestions based on observed patterns. Overall, by taking on these approaches, expense approval processes can be graciously improved.

Why businesses need an expense approval process?

Businesses need to implement expense approval processes to prevent overspending and to ensure employees are complying with company policies. At the moment, 40% of businesses have described their general workplace technology as “outdated” and 38% still use manual expense processes. These manual processes take a long time to complete and are highly prone to error. For example, employees are often forced to make out-of-pocket employee expenses which leads to miscommunication over documents and a lack of visibility.

automating expenses in organization

Not only is it time-consuming, but it is also a huge waste of money to have highly trained financial professionals spending such long periods of time checking receipts, numbers, and policy claims. For example, when employees don’t follow the company guidelines, it is a waste of potential for other productive projects they could have been working on. By having a fine-tuned expense approval process, employees can more accurately claim expenses fairly. Additionally, a clear expense policy is determined and followed.

As mentioned, visibility between employers, finance professionals, and employees is improved, which unfolds in greater productivity. For example, by using dedicated approvals, various departments can work with individuals familiar with specific terminology and practices. Whether with automated features, more guidelines, or safety nets, expense approval workflows are necessary for the growth and survival of any company.

Steps to automate expense approvals

There are numerous benefits to using an automated expense management program. Most importantly, employees and finance professionals will no longer have to spend so much time on expense management. This includes filling out redundant expense reports, waiting for slow processing and approval times, and double-checking employee information fields. Expense approvals are a feature of controlling expense management in businesses.

By automating this process, the system can be more “intuitive and less administration-heavy”. This is incredibly important as 60% of employees have stated that they did not file expense reports despite having company expenses. Other benefits will include: simplifying document attachments, automatic calculations, reduction of errors, errors instantly flagged, a built-in trail to aid tax season, and more!

expense management in organization

Jetdocs workflow can assist a business in its mission to become more efficient. By automating the expense approval process, JetDocs contains unique features and innovative features to improve communication between employees. Even employees that detest admin work will be enticed to try out the digital workflow system and submit their own expense claims!

1. Decide what needs automating

Before making adjustments to the workflow system, it is important that only necessary steps are automated. For example, highly important concept checks should still be done by authorities. However, checking for proper formatting such as dates, company names, and other spell-check-related tasks can be done automatically.

Additionally, before implementing the system, human interventions must be easily accessible in the workflow process. This way, any system errors or bugs can efficiently be resolved. In order to do this, manual processes must be carefully walked through to ensure no vital approval rules are skipped over. Once this is done, teams can either work on automation in-house or work together with other software to best customize rules and workflows for expense reports.

For example, some important features to observe are conditional rules, cash advance requests, and custom workflow fields. This preliminary step ensures that company funds are saved without sacrificing the quality or accuracy of the workflow process.

2. Revisit your policy

As another caution, professionals advise organizations to revisit policies to ensure that they are written clearly and concisely. For instance, it would be highly costly for a company to automate certain components of their expense approval to contradict their policies. One important aspect is to be very specific about what expenses are allowed.

Following this, focusing on details when submitting and the process of approving expenses ensures that employees are more likely to complete forms correctly. This would have considerable time savings as well as improve employee support due to slow processing times. Thus, in the personalization phases of company expense approval workflows, policies are used to create guidelines for the company.

More specifically, specific policies need to be set up for different branches or departments. Various accommodation costs and travel expenses should be customized based on the department selected. This will improve communication between finance departments and clear up misunderstandings. Overall, revisiting the overarching company policies and creating more customizable options based on guidelines are integral steps.

3. Rework your workflow

At this stage, it is time to work through the present workflow. To reiterate, a workflow is an organized system of processes or procedures implemented by companies and organizations. They are best utilized to help employees complete their jobs faster and in a more simplified manner. Currently, in most systems, the same person or financial professional completes approvals. Thus, this system is highly inefficient and prone to human error.

Thus, 5 specific workflow types with their own features are available and can be utilized. For instance, approval workflows allow individuals to automatically approve expenses before even being posted to an employee’s account. Auto post workflows instantly post expenses to the specific employee’s account after approval; without further communication between employees and finance teams. Line item workflows allow individuals if a designated line item met the criteria before approval or rejection. Posting workflows instantly post expenses after they are approved.

Expense workflow management systems contain an incredible amount of automation features. As long the present workflow is walked through, edited, and approved, expense approval workflow systems can be highly beneficial.

4. Customize the software

– Pick the software that meets all requirements an efficient expense approval workflow would need, like Jetdocs.

– Spend as much time as possible learning how to use the software before you go live.

– Training sessions offer great insight into what’s working well and what isn’t.

– Make sure you’re comfortable with the software before you launch.

In the last step, it is finally time to choose the software fit for the designated company. It is important that the best-aligned software that meets all specific requirements for an efficient expense approval workflow is chosen. In this process, organizations should spend as much time as possible learning and understanding the software before implementing it.

Attending training sessions provides great insights into how to use the software before going live. Additionally, interactive and collaborative meetings with both teams ensure the software contains the best features for the company’s tasks. Essentially, key players of the company must be comfortable with the software before its launch. This way, they will be able to train their trainers and employees.

At this stage, specific features of the software can now be customized based on prior work done on automated segments, revisiting company policies, and reworking the overall workflow process. More advanced technologies allow companies to streamline the process by automating the process with software like Jetdocs, which collects all the information and sends reports to the appropriate managers with little effort. Once the software is customized and tailored to company operations, automated expense approval workflows can best be utilized to save companies time and money!

Approving expense approval requests with Jetdocs

– Using Jetdocs templates makes creating expense approval workflows easier than ever before.

– With Jetdocs Drag & Drop Interface, building workflows is quick and simple.

– You can add conditional logic, email notifications and custom outcomes to your workflow.

One example of the workflow for expense report systems is Jetdocs! Using Jetdocs templates allows users to create expense approval workflows easier than ever before. Available with both slack and Microsoft teams, Jetdocs is highly inclusive and accessible for all teams. No matter if the interested customer is a large organization or small startup, Jetdocs is available to use.

With Jetdocs Drag and Drop Interface and drop-down field features, building workflows and helpful systems are quick and simple. Cutting down on communication times and approval processes is a huge benefit of using Jetdocs at any stage of development. Additionally, some of Jetdocs other amazing features include adding conditional logic, email notifications, and customizing outcomes to the overall workflow. With such a large variety of automated features, Jetdocs would be an incredible tool to help managers process administrative and operations tasks without as much delay.

That way, team leads can spend more time focusing on important tasks, rather than tracking documents, deadlines, and communication between team members. Jetdocs makes expense approval process less of a headache for all employees in need of expense reimbursements, the financial team, and managers.

Conclusion in making expense approval process

Expense approval process are highly useful in all types of businesses. Expense approvals are one part of expense management, which includes other parts such as setting travel cost allowances and limits, tracking employee spending, creating and enforcing an expense policy, alerting employees who break the expense policy, analyzing spending data to look for irregularity or opportunities to save, and more.

They exponentially improve communication between employees, productivity, and understanding of company guidelines. After understanding why a company would need expense approval workflows, it is important to follow a couple of steps before implementing. These include deciding what will be automated, revisiting policies, working through workflows again, and customizing necessary software. Expense approvals will surely improve any business and manager’s efficiency!

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Warren Jenkins

Warren Jenkins

Expert Author

Warren is a process manager here at Jetdocs where he helps businesses to identify business processes that require optimization. With a data-driven approach to analyzing processes and identifying areas for improvement, such as reducing waste, increasing efficiency, and improving quality, warren has the experience required to form efficient business processes. Warren covers the topic relating to creating, optimizing and streamlining business processes in Jetdocs blog. Connect with Warren on Linkedin