We spend a lot of time thinking about how to approve expense reports. Usually, the money has already changed hands, so we are not really approving the expenditure, but rather, who should pay. Does this seem a little backwards? Perhaps this should be agreed before the travel reservations are made.
PSA offers a solution through the “Work Process” module. The work process module allows us to create a workflow for pre-approving expense reports. There are as many ways to configure this workflow as there are PSA partners, but here is one that I particularly liked.
- Plan: When planning to travel, the traveller defines the basics of the travel – where, when, how long, requirements, etc.
- Estimate: The traveller, or travel coordinator finds estimates for the trip – airfare, hotel, ground transport, meals, per diems, etc.
- Communicate: traveler summarizes the travel estimates in a workflow request.
- Agree: The project manager approves the request, perhaps attaching pre-approval from the client. The project manager may include special requests – which task to use for expense tracking, budget, contingency plans, what is billable to the client.
- Book it: Once, approved, travel is booked. On approval, traveler notes the request # from the pre-approval.
- Report: The traveler then creates the expense report, with the pre-approval request number.
- Reconcile: For expense report approval, the approver simply compares the pre-approval request with the actual expense report.
What have we gained?
- We are less likely to find ourselves absorbing the cost of an inappropriate expenditure.
- The client is less likely to be surprized.
- A documentation trail solidifies our agreement, before the travel is booked.
- Expense report is streamlined and more rapid, as the pre-approval process has overcome the most time consuming obstacles for approval.
- A clear estimate of upcoming costs in the project, which can easily be entered into the financial planner.
About the Author: Brendan Holland is an Implementation Consultant at Upland Software with over 10 years’ experience implementing project management and medical software.