Growing businesses can go through a great deal of change within short periods of time, which can result in outdated and sometimes even obsolete policies. Similar to your annual doctor appointment, it’s good practice to review and update your expense and AP policies at least once a year and after every relevant large change to your organization’s business.
Why is this so important? These policies relate to how your employees get reimbursed, how money flows through your company and what will be paid or denied. These are emotional issues and you want to be absolutely clear about them.
What to include in your policy check-up:
Good T&E and AP policies align with corporate goals, and make reimbursements and payments easy and efficient. When giving your policies a health exam, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Be clear and to the point. Make sure your policy is straightforward. Cover the basics and don’t use legalese or corporate jargon. All points should be stated plainly. The easier your policy is to understand, the easier it is for your employees to follow (and enforce).
- Ensure policies are easy to find. If your policy is buried in an intranet or at the bottom of a notebook, it isn’t going to be used. Making your policy visible keeps it top of mind. And if you update it, plan a procedure to inform employees of this change, either by sending out an email or printing and handing out the updated sections. If the change is a big one, it is probably worth having a meeting to discuss it with your team.
- Emphasize the benefits. Let’s face it, no one likes being told what to do. But explaining the reasons behind the policy and how it benefits all employees does help with acceptance. Not only having a policy to follow, but holding everyone accountable (no exemptions, regardless of rank), keeps it fair all around.
Keep in mind, these three points are only the beginning. There is more to a strong expense policy, such as addressing ambiguity and the use of corporate cards, not to mention rules around booking travel and personal expenses. And accounts payable policies help to clarify your approval processes, signing authority rules and basics like document storage.