Tackling the Final Frontier in Expense Management – Non-employees

Andrew Donato Andrew Donato
Abacus Reach enables organizations to effectively support expense reimbursement for non-employee travelers.

#expense 

Many forward-thinking organizations have already automated their employee T&E processes. More than 50% of all organizations have migrated from the traditional receipts and spreadsheets to modern, mobile-centric solutions, with that number being significantly closer to 100% among mid-sized and large organizations.

While many traveling employees have benefited from automated expense management solutions for several years, one group remains almost universally underserved: non-employees. This group comprises a wide range of travelers, including job candidates, consultants, contractors and volunteers. One of the biggest hurdles for these groups has been that expense automation systems aren’t optimized for one-off, non-employee users. As a result, these individuals need to submit expenses manually, and then be set up as vendors in the accounting system in order to process reimbursements, often through hard-copy checks.

This process creates a number of challenges for both the organization and the individual. It makes travel spend policies difficult to enforce; it makes expense submission burdensome for travelers; it leads to considerable manual back-and-forth between the traveler’s contact within the organization and the finance team in order to process the reimbursement; and most importantly, it significantly delays reimbursement – often requiring 4-6 weeks between expense submission and the check being deposited in the traveler’s bank account.

While this lengthy delay may not pose a major financial challenge for contractors or consultants, it can lead to significant hardship for unpaid volunteers or job-seekers. In addition, during the current environment of historically low unemployment and a tight labor market, candidates have far greater power than usual. An employer who delivers a poor experience during the recruitment process may find it significantly more difficult to attract the best candidates.

Emburse's Abacus Reach solves this challenge with a simple, mobile-centric solution. It removes the need for travelers to be onboarded onto a traditional solution, and also eliminates any need for the finance department/team to be involved in the process.

Reach administrators (typically in the corporate recruitment team in the case of candidate travel, for example) can send an automated email invite as soon as an in-person interview offer is made, which also provides guidelines for travel costs and a scheduled profile deactivation date. The traveler will then download the Reach app onto their mobile phone, and through a simple 60-second set-up process, can create an account and provide bank details for reimbursement. This is a huge time-saver for both the internal team and the traveler over existing processes.

Reach is a highly intuitive solution that easily guides travelers through the expense process. Expense policies are automatically enforced within the solution, ensuring that travelers can’t accidentally (or deliberately) submit expenses which are out of policy.

Before the trip starts, travelers send airline and hotel booking emails to their receipt “wallet” within Reach. During their trip, they can simply capture receipt images for meals and other out-of-pocket purchases, and Reach will then scan and extract transaction and travel data. Once a receipt is uploaded and the expense details are confirmed, the traveler simply hits submit in the app to start the reimbursement process.

Policy compliance is verified with Reach’s real-time approval workflow, and because the traveler entered their ACH details during the initial sign-up process, reimbursement can take place in as little as 24 hours after submission. Travelers can submit every expense as soon as it occurs, instead of needing to wait until the trip is complete, so no more carrying that $500 plane ticket on their credit card until after the interview.

Organizations can make this process even easier by issuing their non-employee travelers Emburse Cards. Combining Reach with Emburse Cards provides travelers with a policy-based physical or virtual card, enabling them to pay for all travel and incidentals without incurring any out-of-pocket costs. Purchases can be restricted by vendor, merchant category or transaction amount, and once the card is used, travelers will automatically be prompted to capture a receipt image before submission. Once the trip is complete, the card and Reach are immediately deactivated.

No more collecting receipts. No more intra-office envelopes going back and forth for verifications and signatures. No more checks to mail and wait for. Just quick and easy expense submission and reimbursement, more productive finance teams and satisfied travelers.


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