Paperless expense report: Creating conditions for success!

Going digital in expense report management is not necessarily easy, especially for large multi-site organisations. For the best success rate, a detailed project plan should be made well ahead of time.

Expense reports are considerable in many companies, with an average of more than 2,000 euros per year per employee. Therefore, solutions to optimise expense report management are very important, for example in the deployment of technology and newly designed processes. But how can we ensure the success of this fundamental change in large groups, multi-entities and locations around the world?

Setting up the right approach is necessary to win employee support for the change management process. Specific internal communication on the need to adopt new practices is essential. Due to this, some choose to set up a pre-project phase with the aim of optimum preparation when launching the project further downstream. Work can be carried out in cooperation with a consulting firm, such as Arago Consulting, who specialise in digital transformation support. Turning to integration specialists such as this is often a valuable aid to the implementation and transition’s success.

The objective of any pre-project phase in a change management process it to promote the opportunities to get stakeholder buy-in from the offset. In the case of digitalising expenses, the opportunities for simplification, harmonisation and resulting efficiencies. All internal exchanges, mediation and decisions are during this phase. This means that these aspects no longer need to be addressed when the project is implemented later on. In concrete terms, it’s a matter of meeting with end users and stakeholders to look ahead to the implementation of the solution. The end users should include a mix across the organisation, the traveller-employees, management controllers and financial managers, the objective being to clarify the requirements of each stakeholder involved in the expense reports management, and to identify necessary and useful solutions.

Careful and detailed preparations will a guarantee a smooth and efficient technological change within budget. In both finance and business travel purchases, it is necessary to operate at a local level. Expense reports are not managed in the same way in the United States as in France or elsewhere. In some countries, keeping paper documents for expenses is still essential, whereas in France this is no longer necessary as of 1stJuly. A paper receipt that has been digitised and archived under the conditions provided for by law now has the same legal value as its paper receipt and can therefore be destroyed. This issue is proportional to the size of the company. It should be remembered that for a company with 250 employees, nearly 10,000 paper receipts previously had to be kept, i.e. more than 50,000 over 5 years.

But beyond specific national requirements, global development means that processes are becoming increasingly standardised, whatever the continent, as shown by the evolution of Uber or Airbnb. Harmonised processes are still needed in financial terms, and around compliance, so for the moment it is still, necessary to engage at a local regional level.

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