Between telecons today, I was glancing through twitter and had a brief chat there with Ben Haines, the CIO of Box.
Just reminded me of a few phone calls I have had from the expense police in past life
Expense Police :Can you explain why you tipped $10 more than 15% at dinner ?
Moi : err- because the client loved the service at the dinner I took him to and let me get away with a missed milestone which would have cost the company a few thousand dollars
Expense Police : I need a daily exchange rate breakup for your claims for Germany trip last month. If you can’t respond in 2 hrs , I will deny the claim and you have to raise a new claim later
Moi : sure – let me step out of this stupid negotiation with CIO for a $30M deal right away and go find the exchange rates for you for my $5000 claim
3. Expense Police : I am denying the $2K air ticket because you didn’t attach a manager approval note
Moi : sorry – I made the assumption that the General Manager 3 levels above my boss had the authority to approve the travel and only attached his approval . Let me call and yell at him for aiding and abetting a willful negligence of company policy by me
4. Expense Police : I will let the first 3 things slide this time based on your explanation. But this is the last time and I will have to notify your manager
Moi : Much appreciated. I will let my manager know so that he can prepare his manager for his call with you for his own expenses
5. Expense Police : Remember I told you I will pass your claims this time? Well, we cannot do that. The system does not allow us to do that. So I am denying the claim.
Moi : OK – I am sure the system has good reasons to do it, given it is more intelligent than both of us. Does the system accept thank you notes or flowers that I can send to mark my appreciation?
I will stop here – there are a dozen more along these lines .
I would be hard pressed to find an application that is more universally loathed than expense apps .
Why is it so ?
Mostly because the fundamental thinking behind corporate expenses is. “Trust no one”. Everyone from CEO to Janitor are out there to cheat the company on expense reports apparently . Put as many obstacles in the way – and we can find that one bad guy amongst the thousands of employees and contractors.
Second , legal frame work is stuck in the 1950s . There are places where you can claim electronically with a nice iPhone app but you need to mail in receipts . A paradigm of productivity and efficiency , eh ?
Last, apps get built by people who don’t travel and hence have limited knowledge of how traveling employees live and pay .
I know many including me wanted job promotions in past strictly because then you can offload expense reports to an assistant . But every time I give a bunch of receipts to my EA , I feel rather sorry for her . I hope she doesn’t get as many calls from the expense police .