Quick Guide for Canadian Manufacturers to Developing Effective Billing and Expense Policies

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Writing employee billing and expense policies is relatively easy. Getting people to follow them is another story. And just because you cram in all the rules, regulations, and restrictions that the management team wants, doesn’t guarantee that anyone will understand your policies or even read them. Dramatic changes in spending habits, the shift of the remote and hybrid workforce, and changing employee health and safety requirements in recent years complicate matters.

It’s probably no surprise then to hear that nearly 9 out of 101 frames say finding new ways to increase speed and flexibility in managing travel, expenses and invoices is critical to keeping their organizations profitable and continuing to grow.

With all of this in mind, it is important to ask:

  • Are our current policies flexible enough to meet ever-changing government requirements and rapidly changing health restrictions?
  • Do they adequately address the safety and well-being of business travellers?
  • What about sustainability – is it even in our current plan (because that’s increasingly on the minds of many Canadian employees)?

Regardless of your answers, we recommend taking the following four steps to gain better visibility into your organization’s spend, find new efficiencies, and avoid more major overhaul down the road.

Step 1: Update your expense categories

While ‘Other’ (also known as ‘Miscellaneous’) has always been the largest expense category, recent years have seen the addition of new line items, such as work-from-home expenses, accounting for more than 60% of expenses in industries like manufacturing.2

Revisiting your spending categories and aligning them with how your employees spend now can help uncover hidden dollars that can be saved or reallocated to strategic initiatives, such as employee retention and recruitment.

Questions to ask:

  • Do our existing categories still make sense?
  • Are there any new categories that should be considered to better align with how our employees spend?
  • Could expenses classified as “Other” or “Miscellaneous” be reassigned to a new category or an existing category?

Step 2: Review your spending and billing policies

Here is an unfortunate statistic. From 2020 to 2021, policy violations for excessive personal spending increased by 21.8%.3 Even without ill intent, policies tend to stretch and bend when undefined circumstances arise. And with changes in how and where you work and the initiation of business expenses, now is a good time to review your policy and make sure everything is up to date.

Questions to ask:

  • Do our policies reflect how we do business today?
  • To what extent do our policies leave room for personal interpretation?

As you begin the review process, keep these best practices in mind:

  1. Use simple and clear language.
  2. Be concise (less than 10 pages).
  3. Explain the “why” of the policy.
  4. Be consistent in tone.
  5. Regular update with new types of expenses.
  6. Consider global legal requirements.
  7. Review your training practices.
  8. Keep in mind your industry and company culture, as well as your workforce and generational makeup.

Step 3: Empower your employees

Your employees want to make the right spending decisions, but they don’t want to struggle with disconnected processes and inadequate tools to stay compliant with outdated or unclear policies. Unfortunately, only 36% of employees say their organization provides them with the right training and tools to keep up with changing policies and regulations.4

Once you have set the right policies, it becomes easy for your employees to take the right actions. When you invest in people-centric policies, processes and tools, your employees, your bottom line and your suppliers will thank you.

Questions to ask:

  • What do our employees think of our T&E and billing tools and policies?
  • Are there simple changes we can make to increase employee satisfaction and retention?

Step 4: Consider automating expense, travel, and invoice management

When buying something for work frustrates employees, how can they be expected to do the right thing? When audits and approvals are maddening to finance, how can they keep costs under control? When policies and protocols frustrate your teams and disjointed workflows get in your way, how can you maintain compliance?

By digitizing manual processes, leveraging the power of AI and machine learning, and integrating data integration, your operations can run smoother and better, with the visibility and analytics you have. need in one place.

Questions to ask:

  • Are our employees struggling to enter and submit expenses that comply with expense policies?
  • Does our AP team waste time scanning paper invoices, manually verifying data accuracy, and double-checking if the expense is authorized?
  • Have we been hit with late payment penalties, government fines, or even fraud?

Bonus step 5: create momentum for the future

Once you’ve reassessed and revised your expense and billing policies, it’s time to give your business even more momentum. Find out how SAP Concur solutions can automate your expense management, including policy compliance.

Get started today at https://www.concur.ca/manufacturing

1(E)BrandConnect, 2021, “Ready, Reset, Expand”

2SAP Concur customer data.

3SAP Concur and Oversight, “2021 Spend Insights Report: A better Understanding of 2021 for a better view of 2022”, SAP Concur and Oversight, 2022.

4SAP Concur and Oxford Economics, “Empowering your people: How executives can jump-start the flexible workplace”, SAP Concur and Oxford Economics, March 3, 2022.