Your long awaited family camping trip comes around. You’ve just earned a weekend away from Excel after closing the month-end books. Only a handful of errands are left between you and roasting s’mores at the campsite – just pick up a first aid kit and some batteries. You turn on the ignition and the ‘check engine’ light comes on. Gasp! There’s a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.
The timing is terrible. (Isn’t it always?) We’ve all been there. You may not have realized it, but a business expense management program is just like auto maintenance — you rarely think about it until something bad happens.
The Path to Being Proactive
It’s tough to be proactive about auto maintenance – I don’t know of anyone who creates a recurring calendar invite as a reminder to visit the mechanic (although that does sound like a good idea now!). There are few repercussions to being reactive in this situation, especially since the fix is easy and can be done after the fact.
However with expense compliance policies, it’s almost impossible to reactively resolve a mishap without facing harmful repercussions. Being proactive with your expense policy prevents your business from suffering the loss of thousands of dollars and a tarnished reputation.
A well defined expense management policy has two parts:
1. An easily accessible written policy with guidelines held in a centrally accessible repository
2. A comprehensive and enforceable process to implement the policy
The best expense management programs proactively create open discussions across departments to understand business risks and obtain feedback about the current policy. An expense management policy is not meant to be a siloed document; it’s intertwined throughout the organization, including teams such as compliance, sales, engineering, legal, marketing, HR, and more. Changes in any one of those departments can drastically affect another – and ultimately the growth of the company. Discovering the right tools for implementation is key to creating a culture of compliance throughout the company. Long gone are the days when the only compliance training employees receive is at new hire orientation