April 2, 2013 by Mitch Taube Categories: Office Automation, Solutions

Mailroom scanning services and office automation software can streamline the front-end of any paper-driven process. While invoice processing is the usual suspect, another good example of this can be seen matching receipts to expense reports.

What most organizations don’t realize is if the expense report is not properly completed and documentation is missing, it puts their organization at risk from an audit perspective. These expenditures must be tied to legitimate business expenses—otherwise the IRS, regulators or auditors may come to your door with stern looks and tough questions. Doing it “right” requires implementing a closed loop process to assure that all receipts are present and exceptions are effectively managed, while avoiding excessive time doing the work. After all, do you want your salespeople and managers spending hours processing expense reports or actually working?

Paper = Delay + Risk

Typically, an expense report is created in a company’s business management system and receipts must then be associated with each expense. Managers must check a signed copy of the report with each receipt and send the report back if anything is missing. This delays approvals and can put employees and the company at risk for non-compliance, especially for organizations processing a large number of expense reports and those with staff in multiple locations. Paper also prevents visibility into the process, since no one person can see the status of a report in process, not to mention the distinct possibility of losing these paper receipts somewhere along the way and not having any backup.

Outsource the Headache of Receipt Capture & Matching with Mailroom Document Scanning

Streamlining the expense reporting process begins with sending a signed expense report along with the accompanying paper receipts to a PO Box where the documents will be picked up by your document scanning partner. In your scanning company’s mailroom, the documents are received, prepped, scanned and indexed. Prepping the documents is the most time consuming as receipts often arrive in a somewhat questionable state, stapled together with bent corners and crumpled up. They need to be taped to a secondary piece of paper to run through the scanner correctly for a clean image—it’s labor intensive, but effective.

Workflow and Document Management Further Mitigates Delay & Risk

The scanned expense report and receipts can then be uploaded into a document management system with automated workflow software to route the documents to the approving manager. The workflow software tracks the documents through the approval process and can send emails to senior management when actions are not being taken in a timely manner. The approving manager can either approve the report with the receipts or decline approval and request missing information from the employee. Corporate retention policies can be automatically applied when storing the scanned reports and receipts in a document management system. This also allows for easy and quick retrieval of expense reports and accompanying receipts should an audit ever take place.

The Best Way to Manage the Paper of Expense Reporting…

…is to let someone else do it so your team can focus on their work. It is not uncommon to have a 30:1 ratio of receipts-to-reports which quickly translates to tens of thousands of pages having to be scanned per month. Who in your organization wants to or can do this?

Additionally, the same system of outsourcing scanning, harnessing workflow and utilizing document management can be used for anything from invoice processing to employee on-boarding to accounts receivable and remittance processing, which further increases its value to the organization.

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