Though there are now some amazing, cloud based expense management tools out there, signing up for one of these doesn’t automatically guarantee that you’ll get those expense reports done on time. These high-tech tools work still require the human touch. Making those unpaid expenses a thing of the past will require combining powerful software with your assistant’s know-how. That's the only way for you to avoid touching tedious expense reports altogether.
Having your assistant handle expense management for you can be very valuable in terms of both time and money, especially if you tend to incur expenses that don’t leave a trail. But it is critical that your assistant is involved enough in your day to understand the context of the expense filing you’ll be sending his way. We’ve repeatedly found that an assistant who is effectively integrated into an executive’s scheduling and CRM management gets the level of context that’s necessary to move the needle on complex tasks. That includes things like expense management, which an assistant should be able to handle for you without having to take up your time with back-and-forth questions.
The Top 5 Expense Items to Offload to Your PA
- Mileage reimbursement: Unless you remember to reset your odometer each time you climb into your car, you probably have to go back to the internet to check mileage for each of your trips. Your assistant, on the other hand, can just calculate the mileage as he’s scheduling the meeting for you. All he then has to do is to match it up with your company’s mileage reimbursement rate, and enter it into your expense report
- Tolls: Road and bridge tolls are notoriously underrepresented on expense reports because they usually don’t come with receipts. That means that there’s nothing for you to add to your envelope collection of receipts from a trip. Again, an assistant familiar with the geography of your area will instantly be able to factor in the tolls when planning your trip for you
- Receipts: Think about all the times you’ve forgotten to jot down a project number or name on the back of your dinner receipt. That will no longer be an issue if your assistant is helping you out. He already has access to your calendar and knows who you had dinner with and when you ate. Expense management applications allow you to scan in your receipts, but you still need to take the time to match them to a billing account. If you had that kind of time, you probably wouldn’t still be reading!
- Parking: Do you throw your parking receipts into the car, only to have them turn up months later under a pile of coats/books/mail? By then, you have no idea what meeting or event they were associated with. Instead, just send your assistant an email or picture of the receipt from your phone as you’re driving off, and it’ll be added to your expense report immediately. No more unnecessary collections in your glove box
- Personal Credit Cards: There are always those expenses that you paid for with your personal card because you couldn’t find the corporate card at the right moment. Though some expense management applications sync with your credit cards, they don’t sort through individual transactions for you. Really, nobody but you or your spouse is going to be able to tease that out for you…unless you have an assistant who knew where you were and who were meeting with that day.
Your assistant, made more productive with one of the latest online expense management tools, will be a powerful resource for ridding yourself of the expenses filing headache. To do this you‘ll need it to make sure that your assistant has access to your expense management account. Using the software will make it seamless for you and your assistant to coordinate entries into the expense accounts. It will also allow your assistant to get approvals for, submit and follow up on your expense reports on your behalf.
Just a note about picking the right tool: Some popular vendors like Expensify and Concur SMB have failed to include assistant functionality in their products. This is despite a world where online, cross-border work is again making it possible for the majority of executives to access administrative help. Here at Prialto, we recommend Certify or Nexonia for those leveraging their assistants to help them file their expenses.
To see a fuller comparison of several new expense tracking tools, see our blog post on Choosing an Expense Management Tool.