Compliance Travel & Expense Finance AI Did You Know?

3 Reasons to use AI to automate financial compliance

by Uri Kogan July 19, 2021

Our ongoing “Did you know” series highlights the capabilities and benefits of AppZen Expense Audit, bringing you deeper into what makes it tick and how you can take advantage. In this post, we look at how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help automate financial compliance within the area of employee spend management.

The compliance requirements placed on finance departments are increasingly complex, arduous, and time-consuming. CFOs and their teams must monitor government legislation and regulations, participate in industry bodies, create procedures, and monitor the actions of internal stakeholders. An often-overlooked area of the finance function relating to compliance is that of employee expenses.

This part of the business is responsible for managing the collection, audit, and reimbursement of out-of-pocket employee expenses, and compliance in this space is complex. For example, auditors need to focus on corporate policies that govern spending rules, reference government regulations for tax, mileage, and various other factors, and in some cases, must identify fraudulent activity. Unfortunately, this function is often still riddled with manual processing, leading to increased financial and compliance risk that often remains hidden from view until it’s too late.

Increasingly, organizations are turning to technology, and artificial intelligence, in particular, to help them better control and streamline their expense compliance activities. AppZen Expense Audit contains unique AI capabilities to help automate your expense auditing compliance.

  1. Minimize the need for manual controls and approvals

Manual processing and controls for expense auditing have numerous issues. Aside from the fact that wherever humans are involved, errors are likely to occur, the sheer volume of work involved in checking every single expense line against every single compliance policy means that manual processes cannot audit thoroughly. Most manual processes get around this volume challenge by sampling, taking a selection of expense reports and lines to validate thoroughly. Unfortunately, this is far from ideal. 

However, with AppZen Expense Audit, you can use AI to automate your entire expense auditing process, from approvals and notification flows to checks against company-specific policies and external regulations.

The speed and scale of automation available allow your organization to achieve 100% coverage, checking every line in every expense report against every relevant policy and rule, providing complete visibility of risk without the need for sampling.

  1. Make use of more supporting data

Increased use of automation allows expense auditors to utilize a much wider range of external data than ever before. AppZen Expense Audit uses thousands of external data sources to validate, enrich, or approve specific line items in an expense report. And the Mastermind AI that powers Expense Audit also makes it possible to add to the auditing process additional, specific data relevant to your business.

For example, connecting expense reports to timesheets for consulting firms enables cross-referencing of client lunches or similar activities. Equally, validating travel expenses against online services can ensure that employees select the best and most appropriate options when out and about on business. 

Supporting data can provide a valuable source of rich information to ensure optimum compliance and reduce manual reviews by utilizing the power of AI to automate the auditing and enforcement of corporate spend policies and streamline subsequent reviews, routing, or designated approvals.

  1. Create continuous controls to fulfill compliance requirements

Processing employee expenses is a little like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Auditors spend most of their time processing perfectly normal “hay,” moving these expenses through the process with a minimum of fuss and generating no value in the process. But every so often, a needle comes along — a meal that exceeds the limits, a first-class flight, a duplicate receipt. Auditors have no idea when these will turn up; they just know that, at some point, they will. 

This scenario is what makes manual processing of expense reports so challenging. Auditors have to be alert and on-point all of the time, which is difficult for humans when processing line after line of similar expenses. AI doesn’t have those issues. 

AI delivers the same level of quality every time it runs and can operate at scale across hundreds of individual policies in parallel. This is a critical capability in AppZen Expense Audit and allows organizations to easily build comprehensive compliance controls that automatically operate to monitor, streamline, and speed the overall process of auditing expenses.

This simple, AI-enabled process flags expenses exceeding threshold limits for employees in a particular location and quickly combines with other AI-driven models to create a system that automatically updates and learns from your spend data. And as it learns, it offers increasing amounts of power and flexibility.

Conclusions

Artificial intelligence-enabled tools are revolutionizing how finance departments manage compliance. Removing the need for error-prone, manual processes is just the beginning. AI can do much more. From the ability to incorporate data from multiple external sources to the creation of a continuous framework for ongoing policy compliance, AI is changing the playing field in so many ways. With AppZen Expense Audit, you can audit 100% of your organization’s employee expense reports, decrease the workload on the finance team, and strengthen compliance, all from a single solution.

Wondering what else AppZen Expense Audit can do? Our “Did You Know” series covers a lot more. Or, check out AppZen Expense Audit on the web, or reach out!

Uri Kogan

Vice President of Product Marketing