Managing expense reports: 9 best practices and 3 pitfalls to avoid

The management of expense reports, a real hassle? Nope ! Between regulations, tips and organization, find 9 good practices & 3 pitfalls to avoid to save time and avoid errors. Do you want easy management of expense reports? Follow the leader !


Management of expense reports: regulations & key information

First of all, it is important to remember the expenses that can be the subject of an expense report and the reimbursement regulations.


The management of expense reports is governed by law, which means that managers and employees have rights and duties. Among these, we recall:


  • the costs must be incurred in the interest of the company;
  • proof of expenses must be kept and sent to the department concerned (invoice, credit card statement);
  • the expenses must fall within the company's reimbursement policy: meals, travel, purchase of equipment or supplies, hotel accommodation, car trip, etc. ;
  • reimbursement of costs must take place within a “reasonable time”.

The law does not impose any formalism for keeping expense reports. However, it imposes rules:

  • for the management of payment receipts without which it is prohibited to reimburse an expense report;
  • for deadlines: the employee has a maximum of 3 years to provide a professional expense report, and the employer has a maximum of 5 years to reimburse it.


9 best practices to optimize the management of your expense reports

Considered to be a repetitive and time-consuming task, there are fortunately good practices to put in place to optimize the management of your expense reports!


1 – Establish a clear expense and reimbursement policy

The crucial element of managing expense reports is to clearly establish the rules from the start. Ideally, create a document containing all the information relating to expense reports:

  • the type of professional expenses reimbursed: meals, hotel accommodation, travel, etc. ;
  • the terms and conditions for reimbursement of costs: actual or flat rate;
  • the capping of certain reimbursements: maximum amount for a meal, a trip, the purchase of equipment, etc. ;
  • the deadline for providing expense reports and supporting documents;
  • the repayment period.

You will thus avoid errors and misunderstandings on both the employer and employee side!


2 – Establish a simplified validation process

Who says simplified validation process, says saving time! So what to do? In order to help the final validator and eliminate doubts, questions and ambiguities, it is necessary to establish a clear process, with a maximum of 2 levels of approval. This may include the following steps, for example:

  • approval of expenses by the manager;
  • collection of supporting documents and control by the accounting department;
  • validation and reimbursement of expense reports.

3 – Minimize advances on fees

What better way to optimize the management of expense reports than to reduce advances on professional expenses as much as possible? Whether permanent or one-off, the advance on costs is sometimes expensive for the company and considerably complicates the work of accounting. It is preferable to provide your employees with a professional bank card.


4 – Automate the follow-up of expense reports

The automation of the follow-up of expense reports represents a considerable saving of time. For this, you can use expense report software. Once configured, this solution allows employees, for example, to provide their expense report electronically and centralize requests. All you have to do is reimburse all expense reports at once!


5 – Make expenditure forecasts

The expense forecast allows you to anticipate and better control expenses related to expense reports. To do this, simply compile the amounts of expense reports for the last 2 or 3 years to establish an average annual expense per employee or for the company. This expenditure forecast is a means of controlling expenditure and possibly correcting excesses.


6 – Regularly check expense reports

Include a weekly slot in your schedule to check expense reports. This allows you to better situate the context of expenses and not to clutter the accounting department at the end of the month! This sometimes tedious task is indeed unpleasant and brings no added value to the company. However, well executed, it is an asset for the control and optimization of the company's expenses.


7 – Equip employees with a dedicated means of payment

Have you thought about the dematerialized payment card? This solution allows you to allocate a means of payment and a budget to your collaborators. ers. Indeed, it is preferable to choose a capped payment card to avoid drifts. It is a practical way to plan and manage the amount of expense reports.


8 – Check supporting documents to avoid fraud

It may seem obvious, but you must be attentive to the supporting documents provided by your employees to avoid fraud. As a reminder, only certain expenses can be reimbursed, and the expense report must include specific elements. The receipt must correspond perfectly to the expense and indicate the name of the client, the file or the professional need covered.


9 – Establish reports to have a vision of the flow of expenses

Spend flow reports give you a clear view of the overall budget. By choosing to establish them regularly, you can analyze the costs at a glance with the aim of optimizing them. Sending monthly or quarterly is a good solution to facilitate the management of expense reports.


3 pitfalls to avoid for good management of expense reports

1 – Have a manual archiving process

Manual archiving is time-consuming, takes up space and carries a certain risk of losing documents. It is therefore necessary to switch to a digital solution for archiving your expense reports and their supporting documents. Digital archiving saves time and space, and reduces the risk of loss or error to almost zero.


2 – Reimburse an expense report without proof

On the one hand, reimbursing an expense report without proof exposes you to sanctions from the URSSAF or taxes, on the other hand, it represents a high risk of fraud on the part of your employees. Always ask for proof before reimbursing an expense report. This obligation also applies to the manager's expense reports.


3 – Failing to mention the travel policy

The corporate travel policy (CTP) can reduce expenses by an average of 20%! It would be a shame to deprive you of it. The PVE can be integrated into the rules of procedure or be the subject of a separate document. It defines the rules, and the budget, for the organization of business trips: 

  • preferred airlines;
  • authorized hotel chain or category;
  • budget not to be exceeded;
  • terms of payment or reimbursement…

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