AP teams and employees who spend money may think of receipts as a necessary evil, if they think about them at all. However, the policies for collecting and submitting receipts ultimately say a lot about a company’s financial processes, and whether or not they have embraced the latest technology for managing AP. Here are two small questions with big implications.
1. When you return from a business trip, you:
- Gather up a bunch of receipts from various pockets, uncrumple them, and enter each amount into a paper expense report.
- Fill out an online expense report, using photos you took of all relevant receipts, and send a thank-you to your finance team for making this a digital process.
- Put your feet up, review your meeting notes, and feel thankful that your company is forward-thinking enough to have completely eliminated expense reports.
2. You’re an AP team member, and your company policy is to require receipts for every transaction over $50. You find this policy:
- An administrative nightmare. Receipts appear randomly in your inbox without context, so you have to trace down each expense and figure out who authorized it.
- A spend culture nightmare. You spend so much time asking employees about receipts that they’ve stopped opening your emails.
- Valuable and effortless to maintain. You understand why receipts are required, and your AP platform is set up so the system not only enforces receipt compliance, but matches all receipts with the corresponding transaction. You can rest assured that every purchase has an automated audit trail and can instantly see the context of every receipt if you need it.
If you answered “c” to both questions, it’s a safe bet that your company’s finance department also:
- Spends less time on manual tasks and more time on strategic work.
- Always has a real-time view of the budget status of each department.
- Doesn’t spend any time chasing after receipts (and doesn’t miss it).
- Uses a spend management platform with OCR technology, all powered by accounting automation.
If you answered “a” or “b,” don’t despair. Modern spend management can change the way your company manages receipts.
Building receipt management policies everyone loves.
If you want to create progressive, intuitive receipt management policies, pay attention to the following elements that address employees’ pain points, reduce the administrative workload for finance, and strengthen visibility into spending.
- Make it possible to deal with receipts on the go.
When it comes to receipts, convenience is the key. Employees need to deal with them while they’re front of mind, not days later. For purchases made with a physical card, this can be done via a mobile app that simply prompts the purchaser to take a photo right away. From there, it can be saved to be dealt with later, or added to a reimbursement request immediately.
For purchases made online with a virtual card, it’s as simple as forwarding the receipt to a receipt inbox, or tapping the receipt icon in a transaction record and uploading it. A user’s receipt inbox shows the status of all receipts, including those that were forwarded and those that were photographed via the app. The inbox can be filtered by a variety of filters to ensure nothing gets overlooked.
The ease of receipt collection can change the way employees view spending company money. One Airbase user tells us they no longer feel nervous about making purchases, because they know the documentation happens seamlessly. A recent G2 review said traveling now feels easier: “I feel more comfortable when on a trip because I know that when I get home, I won’t have to go through the headache of checking through all my receipts and sending photos in or creating spreadsheets.”
- Leverage the power of OCR.Once the receipt is captured by the app or sent to the receipt inbox, OCR technology scans the receipt and matches it to the correct transaction record. The transaction record contains all relevant documentation related to the receipt. For example, if it is emailed, the body of the email and any other attachments can be scanned and filed with the transaction record. This eliminates mysterious emails without any context, and keeps the audit trail organized.
After the receipt is scanned, OCR can auto-fill the relevant details in a reimbursement request, further saving time and improving accuracy.
The consolidation of all information related to a purchase saves time when it’s time to close the books. HappyCo Associate Marketing Operations Manager, Yuliya Maystruk, remembers what it was like prior to adopting Airbase. “Matching receipts to expenses was a difficult task and often slowed down month-end closes. Now, receipts are sent to one place, and they are matched to the expense in the Airbase platform.”
- Make the system the enforcer.Configure your platform to require receipts, and you’ll never have to chase down another one again. Once this is set as a requirement, a card can be locked until a receipt is submitted. No more awkward conversations! And, this can be easily reversed once missing receipts are uploaded.
Receipts: They don’t have to be such a pain.
Nobody likes dealing with receipts. But, they provide verifiable proof that a purchase took place. They’re needed in the event of an audit, act as source documents for P&L and the balance sheet, and checks against employee fraud. The IRS has regulations around the collection and retention of receipts.
With the right processes in place, all of that happens automatically. Let Airbase show you how state-of-the-art receipt management can help your company.