How do you improve your employees’ overall satisfaction when reporting work-related expenses? Obvious answers include fast reimbursement times, convenient processes (God forbid you still use paper forms), and an intuitive system.

Expense management systems are so critical that they even affect employee satisfaction, including in the area of business travel. According to a 2017 Chrome River survey on business travel satisfaction, employees reported that their overall happiness when travelling for business was closely related to their company’s travel and expense policy.

In fact, 97 per cent of surveyed business travellers who were satisfied with their employer’s expense reporting process said they were happy with their travels. On the other hand, 70 per cent said that a poor expense reporting experience was enough to make them have a negative view of business travel altogether.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. When you have an expense management process that depends on spreadsheets and manually sending multiple emails, you’re bound to create inefficiencies. These not only waste time but also cause inaccuracies in expense information.

Explain the benefits to the team to facilitate buy-in

“What’s in it for us?” tends to be the first question on people’s minds when they have to undergo training for a new tool or project. It’s what the Association for Talent Development calls a “withdrawal” from your personal resource bank.

Any change, regardless of size or impact, incurs a withdrawal from that bank. When an employee makes many withdrawals, their dissatisfaction also increases. The key to prevent this is to frame the change as being positive, which grows the employee’s resource bank instead of diminishing it.

To overcome possible resistance from employees, be sure to explain the “why” behind the decision to use an expense management system. This needs to come not just from a manager’s perspective, but from the employees’ view as well.

Highlight the benefits of your expense management app or program. Talk about how it makes it easier to keep track of expenses. Emphasise the amount of time they would save by submitting company expense reports via the system.

At the same time, you want to communicate your expectations from the team. Make it clear that while the expense management system will make everyone’s lives simpler, there will be a learning curve and some growing pains during the migration.

Prepare your travel and business expense policy

As you set out to choose an expense management system, you probably have a good idea of how to integrate it into your travel policy and company expense policy.

One of the benefits of using an expense management system is preventing rogue spending by business travellers. However, this only happens if you have all the information the system needs, including employee data, approval workflow, travel insurance, traveller preferences, and reimbursement policies, and credit card info, among others.

Once you have all your data, discuss your policies’ rules and structure with the expense management provider. Loop in your HR, accounting, and IT teams to help the provider know whom to contact for specific information.

Laying this groundwork will go a long way towards a smooth rollout of your expense management system.

Provide ample skills training

You’ll need to provide two types of training—for users and administrators.

With expense management apps, functions available to end users tend to be limited, which means there usually isn’t a need for extensive training or intense learning sessions for regular employees. A working lunch should be enough to cover the bases, depending on the app you use.

It’s also a good idea to produce an infographic to help non-tech savvy employees use your new expense management system. Instead of a dense, text-heavy PDF manual, an infographic goes straight to the most essential ‘how-tos’ of the app.

It’s something users can keep in their phones and pull up when they’re still learning how to use the platform.

Start with a pilot team before deploying the solution on a wider scale

It’s also a good idea to begin your expense management system’s deployment with a pilot team. While you may be tempted to speed up the pilot test by selecting tech-savvy employees to use the app, it’s best to include people who aren’t entirely comfortable with using new systems.

That way, you can make sure the expense management system is user-friendly for employees at all skill levels. This, in turn, leads to fewer kinks during the actual implementation process.

The key to implementing an expense management process

Ultimately, preparation and transparency with your employees are the keys to adopting an expense management process powered by automation and workflow efficiency.

Make sure you establish organisational buy-in to prevent resistance to using the platform. Get ready by integrating the system into your travel and company expense policy. By addressing these issues before implementation, the actual rollout will be a much smoother process.

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