In businesses of all sizes, there is a silent killer lurking, waiting to rear its head and annoy everyone in the process. This silent killer is: inefficiency. Although it may not be the first thing that comes to mind, any business that lacks proper efficiency is doomed to fail. But once the need for efficiency is identified, another challenge appears. While imperative to a successful, streamlined, operation, efficiency doesn’t always feel easy to implement. In the world of business, efficiency often feels like an elusive creature, but with the right strategies, you can capture it. In the case of your expense reporting process, here’s four steps to achieving efficiency.

1) Create an Expense Policy

The first and most immediate way to streamline your business’s expense reporting process is to start with an expense policy. This policy should set out the rules and parameters for how your employees can most effectively utilize company resources. Once it’s in place, the existence of a clear, comprehensive expense policy gives finance teams a readily available document to send team members who need answers to basic questions about the expense reporting process.

So what goes into a good expense policy? While a good policy needs to contain as much important information as possible, overlong documents aren’t a practical way to present vital information. Instead, focus on making a usable document for employees that identifies key policy areas and concisely states the most relevant information in the most practical manner possible.

Once created, make sure your expense policy has been shared with everyone, and that it’s easily accessible for employees to use as a resource. Additionally, make sure management has a working knowledge of this policy, so they can guide employees with additional questions as needed.

2) Create Expense Report Templates

Another way to streamline your expense reporting process is by creating expense report templates for each scenario. Your employees need an easy-to-understand, foolproof expense claim form that won’t confuse them or trip them up. While they might be the first platforms that come to mind, PDFs and Excel or Word documents require so many steps – find and download the form, fill it out, then print out or email it to management – that allow multiple opportunities for mistakes or missteps. 

Instead, try to automate as much of the form submission process as possible. In doing so, create easily customizable templates for expense reports that employees can easily use no matter the situation. What kinds of expenses do employees have? What information do you, the employer, need to know in order to reimburse them for those expenses? And what data needs to be tracked for those expenses? Once the needs of your business and its employees are identified, a more efficient workflow will fall into place.

3) Stop Using Paper

Welcome to the 21st century. Paper just isn’t the most efficient way to do anything anymore. Paper documents – yes, including receipts! – are a constant source of frustration for employees and accounting teams alike. Do you know what happened to the last piece of paper someone handed you? I bet you don’t. Physical documents are just too easy to lose, damage, or forget about completely. 

The best solution is to stop using paper altogether. Digitize everything! No expense reporting form should ever need to be printed out. Instead, when employees have a receipt necessary to their company’s expense reporting process, give them access to a system where they can easily snap a photo and make it a digital document as quickly as possible. Once online, it becomes a part of your company’s expense reporting workflow, and is impossible to accidentally throw away or get destroyed if someone uses it as a coaster. 

4) Stick to Familiar Processes and Structures 

When it comes to processes, remember to KISS (keep it simple, stupid)! Every time you create a new process for employees, you’re making them have to learn and adapt to yet another way of working. Learning new workflows takes time and energy you and your employees want to be utilizing elsewhere. The secret to achieving efficiency is to align all of the improvements you’re making to your expense reporting process with existing structures employees already know. 

But what does this look like, practically? For expense reporting, if employees are used to submitting expenses at the end of each day, or week, or every two weeks, there’s no reason that timeline needs to change; only the manner in which they submit them needs to be updated for the sake of efficiency. Likewise, for approvals, it’s possible to automate your process in a way that doesn’t dramatically change who reviews and approves expenses or the order in which they do it. Instead, your business can embrace efficiency by implementing a system that automatically flags errors, and automatically notifies the next person in the approval sequence. 

Ultimately, we arrive at the matter of payment – a part of the process that matters an awful lot to both you and the people you employ! After final approval, getting information to the accounting team so they can issue reimbursement payment can cause a bottleneck in the expense reporting process. Resolving this bottleneck with the necessary software can dramatically increase efficiency in the process without requiring anyone on your team to remember to do a new task or learn a new procedure. 

Bringing Efficiency to Your Expense Reporting Process with CompanyMileage 

Introducing efficiency to your expense reporting process is a daunting challenge. CompanyMileage makes implementing an automated process quick and easy, so you can focus on the satisfaction of your employees instead of fretting about the expense reporting process they use. CompanyMileage offers an entire suite of expense reimbursement software: SureMileage, SureMobile and SureExpense, specifically designed to help your company automate and streamline existing processes. 

Our platform allows employees to log trips, snap photos of receipts, and submit reports with just a few simple steps right from their mobile devices. Submitted expense reports automatically move through an easily customizable workflow, so that you have the freedom to structure the approval process to best suit your business. With integrations with all major accounting and payroll systems, issuing reimbursement payments is quick and easy once they’ve been approved.

Only you know what’s best for your business and the employees who support it, but CompanyMileage gives you the most effective tools to automate and streamline your business even further. Request a demo today to join the ranks of hundreds of organizations who have already seen the benefits CompanyMileage can bring to your expense reporting process!