The Roomex Blog

10 Expense Policy Best Practices [+ Free Template]

10 Expense Policy Best Practices [+ Free Template]

Having a well-thought expense policy leads to a higher compliance rate, increased employee happiness, fraud reduction and overall time and money savings.

Read More
Data consolidation across best in class suppliers lead CFO’s to most optimised spend management strategy

Data consolidation across best in class suppliers lead CFO’s to most optimised spend management strategy

As many organisations attempt to cut costs to offset flat revenues, it is imperative that they understand, and have a consolidated view, of all...

Read More
Why prepaid debit cards are the safer alternative to business credit cards

Why prepaid debit cards are the safer alternative to business credit cards

Business credit cards cut out the time and stress of reconciling your employee's cash expenses. They make it easy for teams to travel and pay for their...

Read More
7 ways expense fraud can occur in expense reports (and ways to stop it)

7 ways expense fraud can occur in expense reports (and ways to stop it)

Expense fraud is something you wish didn’t happen, but turning a blind eye to it could cost your business thousands. 

Read More
How Finance Teams Can Lead Their Company into Recovery Amid COVID-19

How Finance Teams Can Lead Their Company into Recovery Amid COVID-19

Since the start of March, the impacts of COVID-19 have hit nearly every industry. It’s safe to say we’re slowly adjusting to our new ‘normal’ - but the...

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Why You Should Care About Employee Wellness

Why You Should Care About Employee Wellness

Employee wellness is no longer a 'pie in the sky' concept that the big tech company's preach. It's a fact that most employees are over stressed and...

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5 business travel apps that are a perfect fit for the retail workforce

5 business travel apps that are a perfect fit for the retail workforce

Anyone who works in retail knows that life isn’t always spent behind a till. Grand openings, redesigns and on-site consultations lead to an increasingly...

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The End of Month Rush for Finance Teams is Inevitable - but it can be Streamlined with One Tool

The End of Month Rush for Finance Teams is Inevitable - but it can be Streamlined with One Tool

We’re all looking to run leaner businesses, and the digital world has created opportunities for us to do so - through tools and programmes that bring more...

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Why business travel management agencies cost you in more ways than one

Why business travel management agencies cost you in more ways than one

Business travel management is a lot like riding a bicycle. When you figure out how to do it right, you’ll never need a refresher; but until then, you’ll...

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How to convince your boss to buy-in to corporate travel software

How to convince your boss to buy-in to corporate travel software

If a business keeps the same painfully slow business travel management workflow process in place because it’s what everyone’s used to, there’s a problem.

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Having a well-thought expense policy leads to a higher compliance rate, increased employee happiness, fraud reduction and overall time and money savings.

Expense policies are just one part of businesses expense management practices. 

What is an expense policy?

Put simply, it’s a set of rules and guidelines that specify how your employees can spend company money. 

Why are they important?

Thoughtfully written expense policies keep everyone on the same page when it comes to spending, reducing the chance of fraud saves the company money, while increasing productivity.

Expense policies should be simple, transparent, and trust evoking. They should be documents of empowerment, not restriction. It’s not a list of things you can’t do but a guide for employee decision making around spend. 

10 best practices to consider when writing your expense policy:

1. Be fair and transparent

If your employees see your policy as fair, they will be less likely to break it. At the end of the day, these employees are travelling on behalf of the company and should be able to claim reasonable expenses. An employee shouldn’t spend hours finding a hotel within limits for a last-minute trip or go hungry if they fear they don’t have enough for a cup of tea and dinner later. 

2. The same rules apply to all

If managers can behave in a different way than their employees it creates tension on teams. Research shows that managers are more likely to go out of policy yet are half as likely to get rejected for that out of policy claim. A policy is only fair when everyone plays by the same rules. 

3. Be flexible

The goal isn’t just to cut costs - it’s to ensure employees are well looked after and productive while travelling. Sometimes employees are forced to go out of policy, and it’s not always a bad thing. If you’re too strict it can drive resentment and employees can look to bend the rules. 

4. Go with a localised approach 

It’s recommended to have different policies in place depending on the location. It costs more in London than in Birmingham and your expense policy should reflect that. 

5. Get feedback from your employees

They are the ones travelling right? See what their pain points are, what they like about the current picture, and how you can improve. Not only does this create a better policy, but it creates ownership. Getting buy-in from managers also helps to ease implementation and adoption. 

6. It should be simple yet specific

No. More. Jargon. The goal is to show the employee how they can spend company money, not educate them in law. The policy should be specific in what they can and cannot spend on to eliminate any confusion. For example, ‘Laundry services are not included’ or ‘Dinner should not exceed £X.’ The easier the rules are to remember and read, the more likely they will be followed.

7. It should be easy to find 

Sounds basic, but make sure employees know where to reference the policy while on the go. It’s best practice to offer expense policy training while employees are onboarding. 

8. Documentation is required

If you’re using traditional expense management methods this is very important. Let your employees know what type of receipt and the date it’s accepted until they need to attach to their expense report. For an automated system, it’s much easier, however, it still needs to be addressed. For example, if a picture is required of the receipt or if the employee must select the category of the purchase. 

9. Reimbursement is clear

There should be very specific language for those that do not use prepaid company cards with employees paying out of pocket. Let your employees know when they will be paid back and how. 

10. It should integrate with your current systems 

As we’ve mentioned, it’s best to have a real-time modern expense management platform. The perfect opportunity to put its bells and whistles to work is to include your expense policy right within the platform. Then the direction outlined in your expense policy document shows up throughout the steps of making a purchase, approving, and recording receipts. 

We’ve created a sample expense policy to guide you as you draft yours. Note, this policy assumes you’re already using or are switching to a modern expense management platform such as RoomexPay. It should be used as a guide. 

Expense Policy Template

Our sample expense policy is extremely detailed, use only what is relevant to your business. We also reference our accommodation management platform RoomexStay. If you do not use this product to book accommodation, be sure to add in your travel booking policy. 

Click here to download your expense policy template 

 

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Thank you for submitting your email, one of our workforce travel experts will be in touch with you within one working day.

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10 Expense Policy Best Practices [+ Free Template]

10 Expense Policy Best Practices [+ Free Template]

Having a well-thought expense policy leads to a higher compliance rate, increased employee happiness, fraud reduction and overall time and money savings.

Read More
{post_body={body={html=

As many organisations attempt to cut costs to offset flat revenues, it is imperative that they understand, and have a consolidated view, of all corporate-level spending.  A consolidated view of spend data allows an organization to better negotiate with key suppliers by comparing their spend to industry benchmarks. 

Finance teams carry the responsibility of understanding all aspects of the business. During downturns, they must be able to identify and forecast what costs, if cut, would be the least likely to negatively impact revenue generation in the future.  The challenge for many CFOs is gaining visibility, followed by the control over many hidden costs.  

Data is often fragmented, making it hard to gain full visibility and make cost-saving decisions

Typically, executives can view only a fraction of spend with their suppliers. An accurate and complete view of data would deliver the agility and actionable insight that could enable businesses to create successful cost reduction strategies while gaining competitive advantages.

Accurate visibility of spend management data is the key to unlocking the cost cutting questions.  Nearly 90% of companies still use basic spreadsheet applications as their primary analysis tools, limiting the breadth and sophistication of analyses that can be executed. These issues lead Aberdeen Research to estimate that inadequate spend data management capabilities are costing businesses $260 billion dollars in missed savings opportunities annually.

 A refined spend management strategy can unlock trends and highlight costs

Spend management is a process of collecting, collating, maintaining, categorising, and evaluating spend data to reduce procurement costs, improve efficiency, monitor and control workflows, and regulate compliance.

Spend management affects and manages various activities across the procurement cycle. It includes requisition processing, budgeting, planning, supplier management, contract management, inventory management, sourcing, and product development. Every organisation, regardless of their size and type, needs to have an efficient spend management process that gives them visibility and control over all costs.

Business and Travel expenses are a good example of a category that many organisations often fail to intelligently manage because of a lack of a clear spend strategy and suitable tools (technology) that will provide the necessary data.  And, it is often the category where significant savings can be easily found if a consolidated view of data can be achieved.

"CFOs are concerned about consistently managing spending across the enterprise, which includes visibility across diverse ERP and best-of-breed solutions and all spending categories (eg, travel).” according to META Group analyst John Van Decker.  

Reduce costs and increase your organisation’s competitive position with a closed-loop lifecycle process

Developing a closed-loop lifecycle process brings data from all stages of the lifecycle to be consolidated, optimised and ultimately reduced.

Take the example of travel and expenses (see graph below), this lifecycle process would facilitate working with best in class suppliers for each element of a trip, developing a consolidated view of the spend data which would in turn allow you to drive incremental improvements in supplier relationship management (cost reductions) and ensure cross-discipline alignment (company or department focused spend policies).  It is only when you have this visibility of spend that you can get control of it and in turn, reduce it.

future of trave;

If we look closer at travel in the context of a closed-loop lifecycle; corporates have tended to turn towards one single provider to manage all aspects of travel in recent years.  Flights, hotels – national and international in addition to the other component parts. But how relevant is this when flights are not being booked, leaving domestic hotel spend attracting blanket fees where the service requirement is lower. 

As companies drill down on costs they are looking beyond legacy TMCs, and breaking out each stage of the journey e.g. train, taxi, petrol, accommodation, meals as unique components that can be optimized from a financial and operational point. The solution still needs to jigsaw together for user experience and simplicity, it’s not the same puzzle any more. 

The value of traditional TMC’s is becoming less clear as international travel struggles.  Annual sourcing programmes (that often attract service costs), are being reviewed. What’s the ROI on sourcing now and how to maximise that.  With a global recession looming, the demand pattern of the specific company in question is much more relevant.

Blending a more efficient sourcing programme with tailored consortia rates and a wide base of supply makes more sense given the evolution of BAR over the last 4 months. There are significant savings to be made by obtaining a per trip cost rather than getting locked into an annual rate.

By working with the best-in-class provider for each stage of the trip, unique savings can be negotiated directly with each supplier, fees can be eliminated and with consistent spend policies followed by staff, immense savings and operational efficiencies can be found.  Without these direct relationships with suppliers how do you really know you are getting the best rate.  

Rather than handing over control of spend management to one single provider, companies can gain control and greater visibility of cost through focused trip management. Smarter technology will save a company hours of time by using best of breed for search, book and pricing, and centralizing payment, reporting and analytics which is what is most needed.

To drive down costs in the months ahead accurate analytics and real visibility will allow control of spend, and result in an intelligent and optimized spend management strategy.

Learn about how Roomex brings together fragmented data creating visibility into total travel spend. 

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Thank you for submitting your email, one of our workforce travel experts will be in touch with you within one working day.

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Data consolidation across best in class suppliers lead CFO’s to most optimised spend management strategy

Data consolidation across best in class suppliers lead CFO’s to most optimised spend management strategy

As many organisations attempt to cut costs to offset flat revenues, it is imperative that they understand, and have a consolidated view, of all...

Read More
{post_body={body={html=

Business credit cards cut out the time and stress of reconciling your employee's cash expenses. They make it easy for teams to travel and pay for their expenses without paying out of their own pockets. 

Companies often use business credit cards to reduce the need to petty cash, cut the amount of individual reimbursements, and allocate spend faster with a monthly statement. 

But, business credit cards don't give companies full control and visibility over employee spend

Sure they give more visibility into spend than cash, but they open the gateway for employees to exceed  budgets, exceed card limits, or in some cases, commit expense fraud. It's difficult to maintain full control on spend, and achieve real time visibility into who is spending what when it's not done in real time. Reconciliation also can create issues when matching expense reports to credit card statements. 

But, now there is a new kid on the block that sits in between cash and corporate credit cards, the prepaid debit card.

Whether you call them prepaid debit cards, prepaid company cards, or company spending cards - they essentially all refer to the same thing. They are an alternative to business credit cards that act similar to a rechargeable gift card. 

How do prepaid debit cards work?

Simply put, you give a card to an employee or department, load it up with however much money they require, and set limitations to control their spending. Employees then use cards to make purchases. Cards are then be topped up daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly, and frozen and cancelled within seconds. From the back office end, you're able to get real time visibility into all transactions and make better cost saving decisions. 

The main difference in how they work? It's not a credit line you're receiving with a prepaid debit card, instead its direct money paid via bank account.

What are the benefits of prepaid debit cards for businesses?

  • Real time visibility into each transaction
  • Personalisation when you can set individual, team, or department spending limits 
  • Analytics as spend happens
  • Integrated app and web console to monitor and track each transaction  
  • Simple to categorise each purchase within the app, saving time on reconciliation later 
  • Seamless reconciliation 
  • Safer than credit cards because they are closely monitored and only have limited funds allocated 

Prepaid company cards work for both Enterprise businesses and SME's to provide control, safety, freedom, and visibility into their expenses. 

Control

Not only can you control the exact amount on each card at any time, you can control how often they are topped up and freeze them off and on if needed. With a company credit card your only way of creating control is through the limit. 

Safety 

No paperwork, false claims, or manual errors when you control the entire expense process. Reduce risk by eliminating the possibility of bogus claims and corporate card overspend. After every purchase, use the app to take a picture and categorise the purchase, leaving less room for error or fraud.

Freedom

Employees no longer have to worry if they are spending withing their expense policy or daily limits. Nor do they have to pay out of pocket and await a sometimes lengthy reimbursement process. With instant notifications to the main office, they have the ability to request top-ups while on the road or cancel or freeze a card should a problem arise.

Visibility 

Prepaid debit cards offer real time transaction updates -  within seconds you have complete oversight to what was purchased, by who and what category it falls into. This makes it easier to prepare budgets, forecast, and reallocate funds.

RoomexPay offers a suite of prepaid debit cards, a mobile app, and a web console to provide the complete, end to end, spend management solution

Get in touch with our sales team today to learn more about the benefits of prepaid debit cards for companies and RoomexPay 

 

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Thank you for submitting your email, one of our workforce travel experts will be in touch with you within one working day.

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Why prepaid debit cards are the safer alternative to business credit cards

Why prepaid debit cards are the safer alternative to business credit cards

Business credit cards cut out the time and stress of reconciling your employee's cash expenses. They make it easy for teams to travel and pay for their...

Read More
{post_body={body={html=

Expense fraud is something you wish didn’t happen, but turning a blind eye to it could cost your business thousands. 

Expense-fraud

Before moving any further, let’s let the numbers speak for themselves, sourced from the 2020 annual report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), and their 2019 Benchmarking Report.

  1. Theft by employees costs companies around 5% of their annual revenues or $4.5 trillion on a global level.
  2. There are many ways employees commit fraud against their employers, however, 55% of all crimes cited were of employees creating fraudulent physical documents. This is possible and most common when companies have outdated expense reporting methods.
  3. A lack of internal controls contributed to nearly ⅓ of all fraud 
  4. 60% of organisations expect to increase their investments in anti-fraud programmes over the next 2 years

Since we’re all on the same page that fraud is real and happens all around us, let’s figure out some reasons how it happens, and how it can be stopped

We’re focusing here on fraud in expense reports, as they are the most common type of fraud related to workforce travel. 

  • 1. Vague travel and expense policies
    You shouldn’t underestimate the importance of creating strong travel and expense policies. Most big companies have strong, detailed travel policies in place but even they forget to add information on alcohol, car washes, GPS, train ticket upgrades, or hotel laundry. The clearer you are in drafting these policies, the more difficult it will be for employees to cheat on their expense reports. Download our Expense policy template to get started. 
  • 2. Employees not feeling valued and ‘pay themselves back’
    Lots of employees feel burnt out, unrecognised and unfulfilled. This is due to many things, from poor compensation to micromanagement to constant travelling. Whatever it may be, they pay themselves back with small expense report deceptions. So, value and prioritise your team! 
  • 4. An oppressive travel policy
    I know we just mentioned the problem with vague expense policies- however, if you go draconian on your employees it can create an ‘us vs. them’ culture in your company, and will hurt your bottom line when employees cheat on future reports to ‘get back’. Aim for the sweet spot here where the policy is clear, but exceeding policy, especially when it’s necessary, think the cost of travelling to London vs Birmingham, will not garner punishment.
  • 5. Employees learned from their boss, who learned from their boss...and so on
    Just as kids copy the behaviour of their parents, employees will mimic the behaviour of their superiors. If your top execs are splashing out on fancy dinners and drinks, chances are at least a few employees will follow suit. 
  • 6. Human error
    Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes even the most attention oriented travel managers book a room out of policy, or an employee submits the same receipt twice. These mistakes are tough to spot in a traditional expense management system, but easy in modern ones like RoomexPay.
  • 7. Managers make mistakes too
    Managers are not accountants, and shouldn’t be. Once the employee organises their receipts and records it in the companies excel sheet, they send it on to their boss to approve. The manager typically will approve or misread some sections, maybe skipping over fraudulent claims, because again, they are not an accountant! Take them out of the equation and reduce fraud. 

And… there’s likely more. Clearly fraud doesn’t present itself in obvious ways and can be extremely time consuming and difficult for even the sharpest accountants to catch. Between the complications of detecting fraud and the lack of real-time data that traditional expense management practices provide, it’s inevitable that expense report fraud is occurring. But, it can be stopped. 

Download our 'Guide to using expense management to unlock company-wide savings' to find out how one small change to your expense management process can work to deter fraudulent behaviors. 

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Thank you for submitting your email, one of our workforce travel experts will be in touch with you within one working day.

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7 ways expense fraud can occur in expense reports (and ways to stop it)

7 ways expense fraud can occur in expense reports (and ways to stop it)

Expense fraud is something you wish didn’t happen, but turning a blind eye to it could cost your business thousands. 

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Thank you for submitting your email, one of our workforce travel experts will be in touch with you within one working day.

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Since the start of March, the impacts of COVID-19 have hit nearly every industry. It’s safe to say we’re slowly adjusting to our new ‘normal’ - but the ripple effects of this storm are only just beginning. Finance departments have jumped into the helm to guide businesses to be more conservative, remain positive, and plan for the future, whatever it may look like.

As the CFO of Roomex, the leading platform for managing workforce travel spend, I wanted to share some learnings that have come out of managing the changes that the pandemic brought to our company, and how finance departments can lead their companies through these challenging times.

We're all facing similar challenges. 

The world is changing dramatically and in ways that are hard to predict. Finance departments are overwhelmed with both the volume of work they have and managing the stress of falling revenues. The general level of risk is also heightened during these times, with most CFO’s looking to create plans with fewer people, budget cuts, and economic uncertainty.

But, your business is looking to the finance team for clear guidance on what it can afford, what could be cut, and how to rebalance. The role of the CFO is to protect the company’s assets, manage risk, maintain effective internal controls. Remember to keep your focus on the company, industry trends and developments, and the economy’s current and likely future performance. 

But, there are ways that you can lead your team to overcome these challenges, and emerge stronger. 

Firstly, make sure you have a full understanding of the major functions across the business. Use this time to strengthen relationships, and truly understand their various strategies, challenges and priorities. You’ll be more likely to be able to provide teams with valuable answers that they need, while getting more detailed information from them, leading to more accuracy in your projections.

Secondly, develop strong financial partners and find efficient ways of working together. Partnerships allow for more specialisation and a more streamlined business. They also allow you to focus on the core activities of your business and mitigate risks.

Amid the pandemic, we developed two strategic partnerships that created growth and more opportunities for our business, while addressing some customer challenges. We partnered with EML to get our new expense management solution, RoomexPay to market to support key workers travelling during these times.

We also worked with Affiniture to increase credit payment periods and reduce pressure on our customers, because we understand businesses have fewer resources due to COVID-19.

Thirdly, relax and think long term. Yes, this pandemic has absolutely changed the way we do business, especially in travel. But if you stay calm and think clearly, you will be able to identify innovative, intelligent, and growth-oriented measures - which are in the best long term interests of the business.

Workforce travel will change dramatically due to the impacts of the pandemic.  

Hotel availability has reduced, so if your team is used to staying in a particular chain, be flexible, and look at other options. Contactless payment transactions are on the rise, so it could be helpful arming your staff with prepaid cards like RoomexPay, that also offer mobile payments rather than cash. They offer little risk, as the amount of money accessible on each card is directed by the finance team. I think about it like this -travelling with cash is going the way of ordering goods using a fax machine! It also reduces pressure on your travelling workforce, that is even more cost-conscious today and would prefer to not pay out of pocket.

I also see travel moving to a centralised platform. Many companies manage travel through multiple leisure sites, excel sheets and notebooks. It’s hard to actually get a hold of what you're spending, on who, and why. I also foresee, as budgets tighten, compliance with travel policies will be even more essential.

Travel policies have always been very important, but now on top of the assistance they provide to adhering to budgets, all policies will require editing due to the complete change in travel procedure as an effect of the pandemic. Ensure your travel policies have been updated from a cost, risk, and duty of care perspective. 

There are a few things the finance teams can do today to adjust to the 'new normal.'

Just as our governments and our businesses are adjusting to ‘a new normal’ - the people that make up our teams are too. The stress of the pandemic has hit everyone, both personally and professionally. First and foremost, your most valuable company asset is your people.

A big focus of mine has been putting in time and effort into creating a team culture. A happy and engaged team that supports and helps each other and is motivated to add value to the business is key in the current situation. Challenges and surprises abound at the moment, and a team that enjoys working together and having some fun will navigate these issues much more smoothly.

I also have gained more appreciation of work-life balance and the flexibility needed to achieve this. Try to get better awareness into what’s going on in staff members' lives, because it impacts their workday and their work performance. On the same note, working remotely is different than working in the office in many ways- and I’ve noticed a big, positive change in the efficiency of our processes.

It seems this trend of working remotely when possible will continue, so use this time to consider processes, automation opportunities, integrations, and team compositions.

Ask yourself, if you were designing the department from scratch today, what would you put in place? How could you be better set up for success when the upswing returns? Get used to working without paper, and saving documents into the cloud rather than locally, and communicating and collaborating regularly. 

Use this drastic change to give yourself and your team a fresh start. 

We’re living in a very different world today, and we all need time to process, react, regroup, and reset. Roomex, has been providing assistance to companies as they get back on the road on everything from sourcing, negotiating and managing safe, clean, flexible accommodation to helping them remotely roll out prepaid expense cards and expense management platform to travelling workforces.

Get in touch with one of our travel experts to learn more about how Roomex can save your business time and money, and get you back on the road safely. 

 

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