Expense reporting can be a major headache, particularly if you rely on paper expense forms. Typically, employees collect receipts and keep records of their expenditures, and then submit expense reports that are approved by someone in authority. If forms are incomplete, hard to read, or lost, the whole process can screech to a halt, increasing frustration.
What’s more, you have to hold onto expense documentation for tax purposes, and you don’t want there to be inaccuracies. Here are some ways you can simplify your expense reporting while making it faster and easier for everyone.
Stop Using Spreadsheets for Expense Reporting
Yes, spreadsheets are electronic and have some advantages over paper forms. Plus, you probably already have spreadsheet software and default templates for expense reporting. But spreadsheets are really not good enough. Not only do they take time to fill out, upgrades to templates have to be communicated to every affected employee. Worse, a spreadsheet submitted as an email attachment can easily be overlooked, and making sure each and every employee fills in all the information can be challenging. Electronic expense report forms are a superior solution for expense reporting.
Add Drop-Down Menus to Expense Reporting Forms
With electronic expense reporting forms, you can enforce uniformity of reporting with drop-down menus attached to fields. You can, for instance, have an “incidental expense” field with a drop-down menu that explains whether the expense was for laundry/cleaning, taxi fare to a hotel, or the cost of sending a package by mail. Or you can have a drop-down menu that lets employees indicate if meals were provided at a conference rather than purchased separately. This can eliminate guesswork as to whether an expense can be claimed and allows Finance personnel to more accurately account for travel costs.
Consider Using Per Diem Amounts Rather Than Actual Expenses
Some companies reimburse employees with a per diem rather than for actual expenses. There are IRS-approved per diem rates that vary depending on location. The per diem for San Francisco is higher than the per diem for Jacksonville, for example.
Using per diem rates typically makes it easier on your employees, because they don’t have to adhere to the standard record-keeping rules for expenses. They just have to substantiate time, place, and business purpose of the travel. First and last days of travel can be pro-rated if travel takes less than a full work day.
Help Employees Keep Up With Expenses
Educate and remind employees of ways they can keep better track of their expenses. One easy way they can do this is to use their phone to take photos of receipts. If an original receipt is lost, they can print out a picture. And if you use expense reporting forms that are available online or on mobile, your employees can work on their expense reports during, say, a long layover, and get their expenses turned in as quickly as possible.
Create Custom Expense Forms Tailored to Your Organization’s Needs
Your organization’s expense reporting needs are unique, so ideally you should have electronic forms that are customized to your requirements. If you’re worried this may mean undertaking a major IT project, relax. Today you can get affordable software that allows you to create electronic expense reporting forms without writing any code. PerfectForms offers you a drag-and-drop interface that lets you create the exact form you want in minutes. And you can easily include things like drop-down menus and notifications, and link forms into streamlined workflows.
Once you try PerfectForms for expense reporting, you’ll see how flexible and powerful it is, and will discover countless ways you can create electronic forms and workflows to make any number of business processes more efficient. Have a look at PerfectForms’ demo, or feel free to contact PerfectForms and take that first step toward making expense reporting faster, more accurate, and less of a hassle.