Compliance Travel & Expense Did You Know?

Out-of-policy doesn’t have to mean out of the company’s pocket

by Uri Kogan July 12, 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 installment, we look at out-of-policy expenses.

With travel ramping back up and lots of job switchers joining most organizations, odds are higher than ever that out-of-policy expenses are flowing through your expense process. How do you stop these in their tracks, before they cause damage to your business?

AppZen Expense audit uses the power of Mastermind AI to look deep into your expense reports, and into each and every receipt. It understands and interprets not only what the receipt says in extraordinary detail, but also what it means.

For example, a hotel receipt might have a whole bunch of line items. Just looking at the data entered on the expense report will tell you the number of nights, the total spent, and the name and location of the hotel. That’s great for basic reporting and compliance (was the traveler staying in a reasonable property for that location?) but not much about the nature of the spend. AppZen, on the other hand, looks much deeper.

If there’s a minibar charge, we’ll spot it. In-room movie? We’ll know. Stop at the spa for a massage, and try to reimburse it? Not so fast.

Sometimes these expenses are unintentional. Maybe someone grabbed a non-work drink with a friend at the hotel bar and forgot to remove that from the reimbursable amount. But intent isn’t really relevant when it’s time to apply your policy. And catching issues like this can help educate employees so on their next trip, they’ll be a bit more careful.

Let’s look a little bit deeper. It’s one thing to read and understand “minibar” or “in-room movie” on any hotel folio. There’s a lot of horsepower behind an AI that can accurately flag those keywords from the receipt image, even when it’s blurry or faded. But you’re still going to make some mistakes if your AI isn’t more sophisticated. If you have a policy that restricts alcohol and tobacco purchases, what happens when someone buys a shrimp cocktail, a root beer float, or a cigar bourek (one of my favorite Turkish appetizers)? You don’t want an expense auditing system full of false positives — situations where the system has identified a risk that isn’t really there.

A human auditor (especially one who loves Mediterranean food) will know that the above examples are all totally fine. You want AI auditing that is equally nuanced.

The reverse receipt situation is also true. If someone orders a Grey Goose on the rocks, the receipt might just say “Grey Goose.” Your AI needs to know alcohol brands to be able to understand what that line item actually is.

What about when your policy is different for different groups of employees or based on the funding source, such as for a client-billable or grant-funded project? AppZen makes that easy, too, allowing you to dynamically apply different policies and thresholds.

With the power of Mastermind, the world’s most intelligent, finance-focused AI, AppZen’s Expense Audit can flag and disallow 100% of out-of-policy expense types, even when receipts are masked by mislabelling on expense lines. You can achieve best-in-class accuracy in identifying out-of-policy expenses using the AI’s understanding of natural language, brands, and commonly-used expressions.

What’s more, AppZen’s AI wizardry directly translates to what you can achieve with our included analytics and benchmarks. Only AppZen Expense Audit provides analytics based directly on AI audits, giving you confidence in exactly what out-of-policy spend is being flagged, so you can tailor your education and training efforts.

Wondering what else AppZen Expense Audit can do? Check out AppZen Expense Audit on the web, or reach out!

Uri Kogan

Vice President of Product Marketing