Why a broken umbrella should sound an expense management warning

Who would have thought that a broken umbrella could show how effective Solo Expenses expense management software could be in preventing expenses fraud. That’s just one of the spin-off benefits from our product, which makes expense management accurate and fair for everyone.

When an employee’s umbrella was accidentally destroyed on a business trip he bought a replacement, and added its cost to his expenses for the trip. His reasoning was simple: had he not been on a business trip, he wouldn’t have been in a position to lose his umbrella whilst on company business. Furthermore, given the poor weather, he needed the umbrella so that he would look presentable, as his employer’s ambassador, when he met prospective clients.

The claim was disallowed. The approver, or finance department’s expense manager, said the company had no obligation to provide such personal items.

The employee didn’t argue, but nor did he forget. The next time he submitted an expense claim, covering travel, hotel and restaurant bills, he added just four words at the bottom: ‘Now find the umbrella’. Somewhere along the line the cost disallowed the month before had been smuggled in, and because it wasn’t obvious, would probably be covered.

Now, you could argue the legitimacy of the claim for a replacement umbrella until the cows come home, but its rights and wrongs are not why we told the story. What we wanted to illustrate is that the company in question had an expense claim system open to abuse and fraud. And since it was so ‘pliable’, it was simplicity itself to lose the cost of a brolly in a claim.

If that was possible, then it begs the question of what else was slipping through the net. More importantly, what was it costing the company in the long run? It’s impossible to know the scale of the losses, but there’s no reason to doubt that considerable sums were being (let’s not dance around it here) stolen.

Eliminate fraud with our expense manager app
Elimination of fraud is just one of the very effective features that makes our Solo Expenses suite of cloud based expense management software so cost effective. With a series of ways to record spending, the opportunity to ‘bend the rules’ and artificially inflate expense claims is vastly reduced. We wouldn’t claim our systems are 100% fraudproof, because we have no control over the way the system is used by any client, but we believe the tools are there in the software. Take the umbrella buyer we met earlier. If his employer had used Solo Expenses as its expense management system, and required employees to use its photographed receipts feature, ‘losing’ the brolly’s cost would have been much more difficult, if not impossible.

Transparency pays for companies
Because of the way we have set up our systems – there are four available, each designed to fit businesses of different sizes – transparency of expense tracking is greatly improved, which is an invaluable feature for any business keen to maximise its efficiency – and what business wouldn’t want to do that?

Although expenses can be entered with a keypad or a voice recording, it’s also possible to have receipts photographed, and to record the distances between locations based on postcodes to make sure mileage claims are valid.

What’s more, the effective way the software records business expenses make the audit trail much simpler to follow. Claims can be made by uploading reports direct to the finance department or accountant, for example, or the system can be set up with a paired credit card, which means the need for employees to use their own cash can be managed out of the process.

Compare our expense management software
Expense Management System
Our four ‘service levels’ offer cloud based expense management software for any company, from sole trader (for whom we created the first expense management app of its type) up to corporate enterprises employing thousands. Each offers different features, which we compare side by side here. Not only does the ‘Household’ entry level come as a free download, it has been adapted by a considerable number of our customers to manage their personal, rather than business, expenses too.

Spend and save
Now comes the really clever part. The other three service levels come at a cost – we’ve invested in developing the expense software after all – but by diligent use of the products there is no reason whatsoever that you couldn’t cut your expenses bill by more than you’re investing each month. And that really is a financial win: win for your company. Check out our packages and pricing here. Everything’s transparent, so you’ll see what your investment will deliver. The exception to that is at the Enterprise level; there are no prices shown there because there are so many permutations available. Get in touch we’d be more than happy to explain what’s possible, and to work out a competitive and cost-effective price for you.

Whatever happens, Solo Expenses’ expense tracking software can be your umbrella against any stormy financial weather!

  • The umbrella story was highlighted in the Scott Adams book The Dilbert Principle, which is a hilarious reflection of the way corporate life works. Or doesn’t…

Picture: Mykola Kravchenko | Dreamstime