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Accounting Best Practices, Fifth Edition by Steven M. Bragg Englewood, Colorado

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3–21. Transmit Expense Reports by E-Mail

In an earlier section in this chapter, “Automate Expense Reporting,” there was a discussion of how a company can install an automated system to walk users through the process of submitting an expense report. Though it is so automated that there is only a minimal need for any human intervention, it is also a system that is usually created with custom programming. This is very expensive and probably not worth the effort for companies without a sufficient volume of expense reporting. This section describes a “poor man’s automated expense report” for those companies that cannot afford a more sophisticated system.

The “poor man’s approach” involves using the existing e-mail system to transmit expense reports to the accounts payable department. This approach does not automatically route the expense report to a supervisor for electronic approval—either the person submitting the report or the accounts payable staff must do this. Also, most e-mail systems do not allow for electronic approvals, so this step may not be possible, in which case the only options are to route a paper copy to a supervisor (which defeats the purpose of using e-mail) or to avoid the approval step and just audit reports after the fact to ensure that they would have been approved. Also, an e-mail transmission does not allow for an interactive review of all expenses as they are entered, so the electronic form being used to create the expense report should contain a text section ...

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