After completing a successful trip to promote a new product, you return to your office jubilant. Your organization has an excellent reimbursement policy that covers all your expenses during a business trip. You quickly file a reimbursement request, submitting all the receipts and bills carefully preserved during the trip, so that you get reimbursed within the current pay cycle. Now, you wait. And probably keep waiting. Because that is how the process is currently. Organizations believe reimbursement to be a completely paper based process as they believe it works best for them. Large or small, tech based or not, almost all organizations have a paper based reimbursement process.

For a company where employees travel frequently, reimbursements can be a headache. Employees have to fill out various forms, attach receipts and submit the form. If there is an error, the process has to be repeated. The process becomes even more chaotic if the requests gets rejected, if the number of requests is large, if the manager or any other decision maker needs more information or if any other issue arises. With paper based processes, the chances of data loss increase manyfold.

Automating the process does not mean simply introducing a digital form instead of a regular paper one. Automation roots out any dependencies and bottlenecks to make the process more streamlined and efficient. Let’s see how automation improves your reimbursement process.

1. Easy to file requests

In paper based reimbursement process, filing a request involves attaching all the receipts that you collected during your trip to a paper form. If one of them gets lost, good luck getting it back. Identifying and correcting errors can take up a lot of time, and errors are inherent to a completely paper based process. When you automate this process, you don’t just digitize your paper form. Instead, you get a powerful tool that roots out errors right at the point of entry. User can upload digitized copies of receipts and also include proof of digital transactions. Data from this form is organized in an easy to review format.

2. Forms customised to multiple paygrades

It is normal to have multiple pay grades in an organization. Reimbursements are often linked with pay grades as in that there is cap on the amount that can be reimbursed depends on what your pay level is. A senior manager and an executive do not have the same reimbursement benefits. This can make the process complicated and also prone to errors. It is quite possible for an HR to make a mistake and give his approval for the wrong amount. A well thought out automated solution, like the one from IBISM, incorporates these changes straight out of the box. As soon as employee ID is entered in the form, the HR can view the maximum amount that can be reimbursed. This removes any errors in payment, and also makes the process easier.

3. Faster, hassle-free approvals

Approvals are insanely difficult in a paper based process. Manually reviewing the different receipts and bills and checking their validity against organizational policies takes up a lot of time. When number of requests is large, this part of the process becomes even more difficult. With a good automated solution, like that from IBISM, you get real-time analytics. This helps in approvals as user has instant access to all data necessary to make a decision. With well thought out forms and access to data in real time, time taken in approvals is reduced by more than half. Also, as reimbursement have been defined on the basis of pay grades, email based notifications are triggered only when special approvals are needed for a particular employee.

4. Trackable and secure

The current process for reimbursement has no mechanism for tracking progress of a request. Once an employee files a claim for reimbursement, all he or she can do is wait for it to get approved or rejected. The only way to somewhat track progress is manually following up with people, which is a waste of billable time. Automation gives you the option to track process progress in real time. Users can view status of their requests and follow-up with relevant people or raise an escalation, if needed. Every task, and any data related with it is accessible only to the people directly involved in the process, which makes the process secure.

5. Inbuilt calculator

Organizations are slowly moving away from paper forms and documents. It is a good idea if implemented properly. However, replacing paper forms with google forms is not going to help much. It is important to have your repetitive processes automated. If a user has to manually calculate reimbursement after filling a digital form, the purpose of digitising the process fails. When you automate this process, you get a module which has digital forms and an inbuilt calculator that automatically calculates reimbursement amount once employee details are entered. This is the purpose of automation, to take over tasks that are repetitive and replace them with an efficient, streamlined workflow.

6. Better communication

Another problem with paper based reimbursement process is the absence of a dedicated communication channel. Any query regarding a request is shared using emails or phone calls. It is possible for a particular email to be missed amidst the number of mails an employee gets on an average. Also, email based communication can create a long thread of emails which is not helpful when you need to search for particular information. Phone calls can disturb the flow of work. Automation solves this by providing inbuilt communication channels. These channels can be task specific or general. Task specific channels can only be accessed by employees directly associated with a particular task, ensuring security.

Reimbursement is the perfect example of a process that has been paper based for too long and needs to evolve. With automation, this process becomes faster, more efficient, easier and secure. If you still have any doubts or queries, feel free to leave your contact details with us. We will help you understand and answer all your queries regarding reimbursement or any other process and provide a free demo.

Published on May 08, 2018