What’s the best way to deal with expense reimbursements?

Does the sound of “expense reimbursements” make your skin crawl and your mind go back to piles and piles of uncategorized paper receipts? You’re not alone, though.

More people than you can possibly imagine have faced the nightmare that is dealing with reimbursements. Things don’t have to be that way, though.

Implementing a few changes and establishing a few rules, expense reimbursements can go from being your worst nightmare to just another task. Before I explain how that’s possible, let’s take it down a notch and go back to the basic concepts of this process.

What are expense reimbursements?

According to the expense reimbursement definition on The Balance:

Expense reimbursement is a method for paying employees back when they spend their own money on business-related expenses. These expenses generally occur when an employee is traveling for business but can occur in other work-related situations.

Long story short, expense reimbursement is the process through which your company pays back what you spent (out of your own pocket) on business-related expenses.

Defining business-related expenses is tricky, though. Each company has its own criteria to define what is (and what isn’t) related to work.

Most travel related expenses (such as flights, transportation, lodging, meals, etc.), for example, are considered business-related and eligible for reimbursement.

Other expenses such as purchasing work-related material, taking prospective customers (or employees) to lunch/dinner, educational material/courses can be considered refundable depending on each company’s policies.

Speaking of expense reimbursement policies, most companies have a defined set of policies in which they define what can be reimbursed, the situations in which expense reimbursements are allowed, etc.

Ask your HR/finance department about it and they’ll likely be able to provide all the information you need.

How are expense reimbursements (normally) dealt with?

Most companies try to establish an internal system according to which employees must report their expenses and request for their reimbursement. Let’s go back to the travel expenses example.

John traveled from San Francisco to New York to meet a customer. Once he got there, he spent on cab/uber fares, meals, lodging, etc.

In order to report these expenses and ask for reimbursement he must fill a paper with detailed information about each and every expense, attaching all original receipts.

That generates a pile of paper he’ll then pass on to the HR/finance department so they can evaluate and process his request.

It sounds boring and archaic, doesn’t it? If only there was an easy way to deal with expense reimbursements that eliminated all that…well, there is!

What’s the best way to deal with expense reimbursements?

Using Pipefy, of course! Ok, I’m very biased to say so but since we actually use Pipefy to manage our expense reimbursements, we can tell from experience.

There’s no need for spending your hard-earned money on yet another specific app for managing your expenses and reimbursements when you can do it with a tool you already know and love, right?

I don’t work in finance/HR so I’m not aware of all the specifics of the process but from what I’ve been told the mechanics of using a digitalized system to manage expense reimbursements will depend mostly on your company’s accountant and his demands. Even though most of them have adapted to digitalized systems, a few still ask for the original receipts to process the reimbursement.

Going back to the actual process, you can download our pre-developed expense reimbursement process template (and customize it to your exact needs) or start your own process from scratch.

The most important part of this entire process is properly creating the start form. This is where you’ll ask for all the information you may possibly need to process a reimbursement request (it’s always better to be safe than sorry).

Let’s say you need the employee to choose his name from the employee database (which will already come with his employee ID and email info) and details of the expense (reason, value, category, date, etc.). You can also determine that all employees must attach a digitalized version of the receipts when creating a reimbursement request.

Want to know the best part? You don’t need to add all your employees to your expense reimbursement pipe. By using the ‘public form’ feature you can simply send the form’s URL (or embed it to a page) to all your team’s and…that’s it!

All your expense reimbursements will be centralized, easy to access and your information will be safely stored in the cloud, accessible from wherever you are.

You can even set up automated email responses to let employees know their request have been received and will be processed within X hours/days. Much easier, right?

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Written By

Isabelle Salemme

Head of Customer Support & Education @Pipefy. She uses her extensive Pipefy knowledge to write informative pieces teaching users to make the best of Pipefy. Besides being in charge of product knowledge, she's an avid reader, a coffee lover and a professional photographer.