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Travel & Expense Purchase Card

Is It Time to Take Manager Approval Out of the T&E Loop?

on June 25, 2015

Google the phrase “travel manager” or “travel and expense” and a variety of news articles come up on any given day. It seems like in the last two years or so companies have become aware of the needs of the business traveler and are hyper focused on creating technology that makes traveling for work, from booking to submitting expenses faster, easier, and more technologically sophisticated.

Even in our business of automating the compliance process, travel policy and controls are constantly evolving. A few years ago, we saw manager approval as the biggest financial control companies had in place to prevent T&E fraud, waste, and misuse. They’d review either hard copy or electronic receipts, sign on the dotted line or hit “ok” in their expense management software. Sometimes this approach worked, but often we found that a manager’s review would be cursory, either because they were too busy to review multiple employees expense reports for suspicious spending, or (as is more likely the case) they trust the employee in question and have a good working rapport. Why would you need to review the expense report of your best and brightest employee?

Taking emotions and relationships out of the equations, even if managers are an effective financial control, they simply don’t have the bandwidth to think through patterns of activities or remember suspicious spending month-after-month, unless the employee was doing something incredibly blatant.

So what do we do?

Personally, I think we should eliminate the need for manager approval of expense reports, and the trend certainly seems to be swinging in that direction. Most companies are completely eliminating manager approval and instead relying on sophisticated preventive and detective controls to corral T&E spend.

But applying analytics (such as the ones used in Oversight’s Insights On Demand for T&E™ solution) 100% of transactions are monitored for policy compliance. The beauty of our system is that it highlights the transactions that are suspicious, and drives those transactions (what we call “Exceptions”) to the compliance and audit team for follow-up. We’re not completely taking the personal element out of the expense review and audit process, we’re just automating aspects of it so that organizations can cover a broader scope during their audit and make the best use of everyone’s time from managers, to employees, to their audit teams.

Take manager approval out of the hands of your employees and see how technology can completely revitalize your expense audit and compliance processes. Take a free test drive of our software with your own financial data and let us show you how we can make monitoring compliance easier.


Patrick Taylor

Patrick Taylor is an authority in the convergence of business analytics, information security, and the implementation of technology to boost organizational performance. An innovator in his field, Patrick founded Oversight Systems in 2003 and served as President and CEO for 15 years. In this role, he helped hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies improve financial, accounting, and auditing processes. Previously, Patrick held leadership positions with Oracle, Symantec, and Internet Security Systems (ISS). Patrick has a bachelor’s degree Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.