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What is your normal turn around time for an Employee Expense report?

employee reimbursement best practicesWhat expectations do you have at your company/firm to turn expense refunds? Currently we pay employees back through payroll so we give a deadline of 5 days before payroll to get expense reports in. However we are discussing going to a weekly ACH run for reimbursements. I'm trying to determine what is a reasonable cut off time to get the expense into the ACH run. I know that company size, size of expense reports, etc make a difference. However I'm curious what other people do and feel is reasonable... if you get it in by _____ then we will reimburse you on Friday. FYI, we are a mid-size company with 300 people so we could get as many as 100 reports in a single week (we average 200 reports per month currently) and they all funnel through one processor (though we could share the duties if needed).


Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

Do they use a corporate credit card? Do you use products such as Expensify?

This could speed up and ease the processing time. Also, use of a corporate credit card would diminish out of pocket expenses (cash).

Topic Expert
Shannon Mathews
Title: Controller
Company: Aldrich Services LLP
(Controller, Aldrich Services LLP) |

We have Concur so it doesn't take very much time on an individual report basis. Usually it is the fact that if 100 people submitted on the same day what would our turn around time be.

We also use corporate cards for our partners but not the employees due to deficiencies in receipt collection. It is easier to deny if we haven't paid for it then if we need to take it back when they aren't compliant with our strict policies.

(VP and Controller) |

We do in by Monday, out by Friday on weekly ACH batches.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

From what you have discussed here, i think you have an ideal opportunity to introduce a change that improves both compliance and efficiency.

My perspective is that if employees are using personal credit cards for business, they should be reimbursed approved charges in time to pay their credit card with reimbursements from the firm, if they meet processing guidelines and dates. Does your payroll-based reimbursement cycle achieve that?

To change the process, engage the players in the process, get professional staff to weigh in and to understand what their roles are, then roll out the agreed change. Here are some thoughts:

As a CPA firm, I guess many expenses may be re-billable to clients. That means staff must submit "proper" expense reports, including receipts. Those who do comply should be reimbursed promptly. Those who don't? Return their entire expense report for correction and re-submission-and delay reimbursement to the next cycle. Use the theme of " help me help you, i.e. if you submit a compliant report in time, I'll reimburse you on time. If you don't, I won't." And make sure the partners back you up when someone tries to game the process.

How do you tie billing for fees with re-billable expenses? e.g. if you bill twice a month, then set up expense report cycles that allow you to include fees and expenses for the same period on the same bill. Then reimburse staff a few days later on a publicized ACH schedule. Would 2 ACH payment dates per month work?

Good luck!

Topic Expert
Patrick Dunne
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Milk Source
(Chief Financial Officer, Milk Source) |

We have the same policy as you, except we pay through A/P twice monthly.

Topic Expert
Linda Wright
Title: Consultant
Company: Wright Consulting
(Consultant, Wright Consulting) |

We used AMEX and ACH settlling within two business days following submission.

Topic Expert
Mike Caruana
Title: Director of Financial Services
Company: Diamond Resorts International
(Director of Financial Services, Diamond Resorts International) |

Similar to 'Anonymous', on Monday we set approved expense reports to pay on Friday; however, it can be via live check or ACH.

Joan Green
Title: VP Finance
Company: National Counseling Group
(VP Finance, National Counseling Group) |

We are just in the implementation stage with Concur so we hope to improve. Currently, all reports received by Wednesday are paid on Monday by check or in the next payroll process depending on the employee.

(Bookkeeper) |

I work for a small privately held company (150 employees). We process/pay expenses thru our payroll run provided they submit their requests 2 days before each payroll run. In our case, we have semi monthly payroll.

Mariann Cumbo
Title: AR/AP Manager
Company: Clarke
(AR/AP Manager, Clarke) |

We have a number of our sales people and operational people on corporate purchasing and T&E Cards. We require them to do the expense allocations on them monthly and submit them electronically for approval to their manager. The purchasing and T&E cards are given to you by your bank and they normally have the software to use for this as well. If they do not have a corporate card, then we require them to have their expense report in by the Monday before our Thursday check run. We do check runs every two weeks. We also pay everyone through ACH and not through Payroll. Hope that helps

(CFO/Board Advisor) |

I use a carrot and stick approach. For timely expense reports, defined as expenses incurred in the last two weeks, "in by Wednesday noon, paid Friday am". This is the carrot. For expenses older than two weeks, in by Wednesday noon, out the following Friday, or perhaps the 2nd Friday, depending on how old the expenses are. This is the stick.

Also, in by "noon" means noon, and it means in Accounting, not their Manager's in-box. Also, we don't give any hall passes to Managers for being late on approval. If they are tardy, then they need to explain to their Associate why their expense report isn't being paid timely.

Now, I acknowledge it is a bit draconian, but I've (or Accounting people under my management) spent too much time chasing down expense reports, or cutting "emergency" checks due to other folks lack of discipline. That said, if Accounting is at fault, it will be resolved on the spot, even if it requires paying the expenses in Cash.

Topic Expert
Edward Abbati
Title: Vice President of Finance
Company: Location Labs
LinkedIn Profile
(Vice President of Finance, Location Labs) |

We target 14 days although some we do better depending on when an employee submits and the manager approves it. We do everything online so the process is streamlined. We also encouraged our employee to use the direct deposit method which has also helps speed things up.

Vik Agrawal
Title: President & Co-Founder
Company: ExpensePath, Inc.
(President & Co-Founder, ExpensePath, Inc.) |

Among our customers, we have seen 2 days as a reasonable turnaround from employee submission to reimbursement which includes all the necessary approvals (managers and Finance). If Finance makes it clear what their deadline is, employees will fit within that to submit in time to make that payroll cycle/reimbursement run. For example, submit by 5pm Wed to be reimbursed in A/P's Friday check/ACH run or by the 13th or 28th to make the payroll run and reviewing expense reports just becomes part of Finance's normal process. We have smaller companies that can compress this even more.

Ferry Jason
Title: Sales Coordinator
Company: TGS Technologies
(Sales Coordinator, TGS Technologies) |

To read out the normal turn around time and sequential approach for the employee expense report, its quite interesting to have a good tool that could help manage the expense report and subsequently manage the expenses in a straight forward and streamlined manner. In order to have the expense report more accurate and expressive, I prefer using the cloud based expense reporting software which is almost the most technical tool to work with. Check out the link here -

Topic Expert
Edward Abbati
Title: Vice President of Finance
Company: Location Labs
LinkedIn Profile
(Vice President of Finance, Location Labs) |

We pay every Wednesday so if they get their reports in and approved, they get paid within 1 to 7 days. We used an online expense system so it is very efficient. We also pay them via ACH.

(Lab Manager/Program Marketer) |

My current employer pays some departments back faster than others, when it comes to expense reports. At one point it has taken up to 4 months to be reimbursed for traveling funds that I used to help the company, but they refuse to make changes or even implement a real policy concerning the issue. It seems quite unfair that you would not have the same rules and time frame for the whole company. If I was to refuse to drive my own car and spend that money, the company would loose money and contracts with other businesses. Any thoughts on what to do as an employee?

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

You refer to "they" but who in the organization is holding up your reimbursement?
Your manager?
The AP person?
The CFO?

Consider asking your manager for a travel advance as a way to raise the topic of unpaid expense reports. Have copies ready and make sure you remain polite yet firm in following up.

Ernie Humphrey CTP
Title: VP, Thought Leadership
Company: Stampli
LinkedIn Profile
(VP, Thought Leadership, Stampli) |

From a recent blog posting of mine ( :"Based on Certify’s Annual Expense Management Outlook: T&E Trends and Bookmarks for 2015:

The average time from when an employee submits an expense report to when they receive reimbursement is eye-opening and impacts the morale of all those who travel:

* Over 7 days for 48% for companies leveraging a manual expense management

* Over 7 days for 37% for companies leveraging an automated expense management system

* Over 12 days for more than 15% for all companies, whether leveraging a manual or automated system

(Associate) |

Here's another twist to comment upon...I have an employee who knows our policy (expenses are reimbursed once per week), yet asks every time if we could process his the day he turns his in to accounting. I nicely remind him every month or so that we reimburse once per week, yet it doesn't seem to sink into his head. Ever had this happen? What did you do?


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