Remote work has become commonplace since COVID-19 required millions of Australian businesses to shift to a more flexible work model. With this change comes new challenges for business owners as they manage the impact of a distributed workforce. Adopting digital transformation and automating processes can be a first step to eliminate pain points.
Even before the coronavirus crisis, tracking expenses was an issue for many small business owners. Manual processing, poor receipt-keeping and incorrectly assigned business expenses caused headaches for all involved. They slowed down employee reimbursements and made it difficult for an employer to get full visibility across accounts.
Now, with so many employees working remotely and a range of different expense categories emerging, the problem is exacerbated. Businesses need to understand how they can rework their expense management system to ensure they’re tracking expenses correctly now that everyone is working from home.
SAP Concur has developed three tips to help businesses track employee expenses easily:
Review employee expense policies
Business owners should consider carefully how working from home may impact employee spending. While staff members may not be incurring travel expenses, they may still have additional expenses, including increased use of utilities and mobile phone and internet data. Organisations must determine what they will cover with their expense policy. Now is the time to review existing expense policies and update them to reflect the new world of work, and you can start with downloading our free expense policy template below.
Many businesses still operate on an old-fashioned model where employees are required to submit expenses by a specific date each month and complete expense reports before being reimbursed. While this might have worked in the past, businesses now operate at a far faster pace. Having real-time access to information about the business is critical, and this includes how employees are spending. Filling out old-school spreadsheets itemising expenses is time-consuming. It delays the transfer of information and prevents managers from gaining a real picture of business expenses. Plus, like any manual process, it can be prone to errors.
By adopting an automated expense management system, employees can upload and submit expense claims in real-time straight from their mobile phone. This completely eliminates time-consuming, manual data entry. Most expense management solutions now offer a mobile app to make capturing an expense as easy as snapping a photo. Users simply photograph a receipt, and it is automatically converted into a claim with line items. The request can then either be reviewed or submitted directly to a manager or the finance department for reimbursement.
Businesses can customise these systems to suit their policies. This means every detail and expense submitted is compliant so reconciling receipts is easy, eliminating confusion, errors, and additional work for both employees and the finance team.
Getting the big picture
When organisations automate their expense management systems, they get a much clearer picture of their business’s financials. A massive expense claim won’t suddenly disrupt cash flow because the team will be able to file expenses on the fly, keeping decision-makers in touch with spending.
This real-time visibility also makes it simpler to enforce spending policies and connect data to get an accurate picture of business expenses. With fast access to real-time data, it’s easy to analyse and report on spending to make cutbacks or extend budgets as needed.
Fabian Calle, managing director – SMB, ANZ at leading expense management solution provider, SAP Concur, says automating invoicing and expense processing is especially beneficial for small businesses.
Fabian Calle said, “The lack of visibility that comes with remote working has made the employee experience more critical than ever before. Organisations that automate their expense and invoice management systems can engage their employees more successfully. However, it’s not all about the employee; it’s also important to note that these systems let organisations achieve increased visibility from data-based insights into how, when, and on what their employees are spending.”