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The dreaded expense report

by Jeremy B


With any successful business trip comes the painful expense report. Yup, no two ways about it, but you’ve got to get your receipts in. Often company policy will dictate how, when and under what circumstances you have to get your reports in. Some companies have sophisticated systems, others not so much.

At a previous company, we used a custom built Excel spreadsheet. Filled everything out, stapled the receipts to a piece of paper and then we’d fax or mail them. To get the receipts through the fax machine you had to make copies of them first. Ugh! Terrible. I actually ran the Travel Reporting department while I was in the Marine Corps for a brief period of time and we used a crazy Lotus Notes based system. After a trip, a Marine would have to show up to the Admin office and fill out their travel claim with another Marine on our team. Talk about a waste of manpower. I hope it’s gotten better :).

At my present company, we use a system called Concur (although it will likely change as we were recently acquired). Concur isn’t too bad really. It’s linked w/ your company credit card (although not personal card) so expenses can show up automagically. There is an app too that you can use to upload receipts if you remember. The app is not too bad, but it could use a few improvements on usability. Still a vast improvement from the days of old. I used to take a picture then email it to myself, etc. #Hassle.

I’ve gotten pretty religious about taking pictures of my receipts immediately to make that job a little easier. Sometimes I will even start to fill out my report while I am on the trip. I am pretty vigilant about getting that report in and submitted as quickly as possible. I’ve been caught before with a big CC balance, and no reimbursement check yet. Not fun. I’ve also seen employees who just could never get their act together w/ expense reporting. Weeks, months even late on getting them in. Just asking for trouble there!

Share w/ us your travel claim experiences or pro tips? What apps are you using that makes this process easy and simple?

Pro-tip: I had a boss once who told me if he ever needed to fire someone he’d just go look at his/her expense reports. Inevitably there’d be something wrong somewhere and usually he’d use that to make his move. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but companies take fraud pretty seriously and I always make sure I comply w/ policy. 

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