Campus News

March 9, 2011

Travel reimbursement is now easier

On March 1, Emory implemented several important improvements to the Emory travel and expense reimbursement process that should streamline how travel and meal expenses are handled. 

"Six months ago we looked at our process and agreed that there were some changes that could be made fairly quickly to improve how expenses are submitted and approved," says David Thurston, associate vice president, financial operations. "Because expense reimbursements affect a very large number of people at Emory, the four changes we identified will have a broad impact on campus."

First, the Compass financial management system was enhanced so that users who are submitting expense reports can scan the receipts and forms and upload them electronically as they initiate the process. With this adjustment, users save time and paper by not having to copy and submit paper versions of their expense reports.

Second, the enhancement to Compass also streamlined workflow by allowing simple accounting changes to occur at the department level before expense reports arrive at Payment Services Electronic routing also reduces the time the expense reports are en route from the department to Payment Services.

A third improvement was the addition of enhanced accounting features in Compass that allow the individual approving the expense report to examine a summary page for the expenses submitted and approve them in one easy view with a single click.

A fourth improvement simplified the reimbursement requirements for meals, requiring an itemized receipt only for those meals over $25. Previously, itemization was required for all meals regardless of cost. According to Thurston, one of the biggest reasons for denying meal expenses before this change was the lack of itemization for meals.

"Not only will this change simplify the process for the user, the $25 threshold should reduce the number of denials," says Thurston.

Last month Emory's finance department hosted two live presentations and two webinars for several hundred attendees to boost awareness of the improvements.  View a PDF of the webinar.

"We knew that there would be an evolution of improvements to Compass for the user," says Thurston.  "The expense reimbursement function of Compass is one area of the system that is used widely across all departments, so it made good business sense to make expense reimbursement a priority.  We will continue to focus on the user experience and the intuitiveness of the Compass application as we make future changes."

The improvements were a collaborative effort between work teams in Emory's Finance and Administration and University Technology Services divisions, working in tandem with representatives from numerous schools to ensure the changes are helpful for those submitting expense reports.

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