By Greg Belkin, Director of Product Marketing
Let’s face it, employee expense management can be a stressful, complex, and time-consuming process. It usually involves the coordination of multiple systems of record, including expense management, human resource management (HRM), and payroll. It also involves servicing employees who expect their reimbursements to be fair, timely, and accurate. That puts a lot of pressure on everyone to get it right.
For many in the HR industry, the entire employee expense management process has been dismissed as a necessary evil. It is often thought of as something that everybody has to do but nobody wants to do. Fortunately, technology has allowed us to move away from manual tracking on spreadsheets and time-consuming back-and-forth reporting of physical receipts and toward modern platforms, applications and services. However, it is still viewed with disdain because there is a lot of legwork that must be managed. HR managers and others involved must, for example:
- Create a New Expense Management Account for Every New Employee. A user account must be created in the organization’s chosen expense report management system. It is critical that data entered in this account matches what has likely already been set up in the company’s HRM system, as there is no room for discrepancies or error.
- Keep Accounts Updated. HR managers must regularly manually update changes in employee data (such as bank account details, an employee’s tax withholding requirements, change in address, etc.) in multiple systems, which takes time away from other critical tasks.
- Integrate the Account with Other Systems. Once an expense report is completed and approved, HR managers need to make sure the expense report data is imported back into the HRM system from their chosen expense report management system for payment processing.
These steps involve the coordination of multiple systems of record, slowing down productivity and creating room for error. It’s a simple probability — the more times an employee’s information needs to be entered into a system, the more chances there are to make a mistake.
Enter HRM System Integration
Best-in-class organizations realize the need for a consumer-oriented HR experience for their employees. They know that employee expense management is a key part of this experience because it is one of the first processes new employees are introduced to when they join an organization. Expense management is also a critical process to get right because it involves the repayment of money to employees.
As individuals, we expect this process to be timely and accurate, or else employee morale suffers. Getting it right with minimal manual effort is an attainable goal, but it requires integrating various sources of employee data together. As a result, organizations can streamline how the employee can enter and access their personal data, and improve the way HR and other supporting staff can process those changes.
Take, for example, UltraDent, a company of over 1,000 people in the global healthcare services industry. The company heavily prioritized good customer service, and was very insistent that its employee relations be just as strong. However, before streamlining its expense management procedures, the company experienced significant delays between expense submission, payment, and reporting. It also discovered discrepancies in financial reporting due to manual errors, and limited visibility into expense management. After addressing this challenge, UltraDent experienced higher employee satisfaction due to expedited approvals and reimbursements. They also eliminated manual errors, established more reliable financial reporting, and increased visibility into expense management.
Jitterbit calls this an Employee Experience API360 approach, and it includes four key components:
- Application Connectors: App connectors provide pre-built and reusable connectivity to a specific endpoint. In the case of expense management or other work-related functions, this might include Workday or other popular HRM systems. The connectors share data and make it easier to directly interact with the endpoint’s API or data exchange protocols.
- Integration Recipes: An integration recipe is a single pre-built integration project that ushers data in one direction between like objects across apps or systems. In this case it could be an integration between employee expense tracking and reporting software and a payroll management system.
- Process Templates: Taking it a step further, these are groups of pre-built use-case-driven projects that use a number of objects across multiple applications or systems. This might involve your HRM system as a hub to handle the employee onboarding process, as well as expense management.
- Delivery services. Delivery services are fixed, pre-packaged professional services set up without customization. They can extend process templates with customization to additional objects and endpoints based on an organization’s specific needs or the platforms they’re invested in.
Benefits of Integrated Expense Management
Some may be asking, “why do I need employee expense management systems integration? What are the benefits from all perspectives?” It’s true that comfort and familiarity come along with doing things the way you’ve always done them. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s best for the business — or the sanity of HR management and employees. In fact, many who experience the power and ease of true integration of HRM systems and software ask themselves why it took so long to convert. Key benefits include:
- Faster onboarding of new employees
- Faster and more efficient management of existing employees via self-service models
- Increased productivity for HR managers with automated expense reporting processes
- Increased employee satisfaction and morale thanks to accelerated time-to-pay
- Increased productivity across the organization
- Efficient and more strategic use of resources
- Higher morale and satisfaction among HR managers
- Far less manual data entries, resulting in fewer data errors
- Decreased turnover due to improved experiences and morale
Employee 360 Integration: You’re Closer Than You Think
As you can see, there are many potential benefits organizations can enjoy when deploying Employee 360 integration for expense tracking and reporting, along with broader HR management. We previously looked at why best-in-class employee experience requires effective HR data management. In an upcoming post, we will take a more in-depth look at how Employee 360 HR systems integrations can help another common pain point in the workplace, such as employee onboarding and offboarding.