Suggestions for best practice in my scenario

agilityagility Posts: 2 Expensify Newcomer

Hello all,

I'm currently evaluating Expensify and I'm just wondering if one wants to add their tuppence to my proposed use-case before we commit.

At any one time we are running approx. 100 concurrent projects, all of which have expenses billable to the client. Some projects need per diem rates against them (which are usually unique per project), some don't, and we use external contractors to deliver some of these projects. Often, a contractor will be working on multiple projects concurrently, and we don't want a contractor to be able to add expenses against a project they aren't working on (or indeed even see anything to do with other projects).

My thought is to use a Policy per project, and assign the Policies to the contractors. In this scenario, I can see the reports are split on a per-policy basis which is desirable for us, and we can assign different markups across policies. My questions are:

  1. Do markups apply to per diems, and/or can we assign a billing price to them i.e. contractor is reimbursed £100 per day, but we charge them out to the client at £110 per day?
  2. The user experience of switching Policies seems a little clunky, can the Policy be assigned at the point of entering the expense (a bit like the Tags/Categories functionality)?
  3. When a project ends and all expenses have been submitted and completed, is there a way to "deactivate" a Policy, or should we just delete the policy? If we delete, what happens to the history associated with that Policy?

The only other alternative I can see is having a Policy per contractor, but this throws up other problems:

  1. Whilst I could create and enforce Tags on these Policies to represent each project, I can't see how I'd handle multiple per-diem rates across projects (i.e. make sure it was idiot-proof against a contractor picking an incorrect rate for a project).
  2. All expenses get submitted in a single report which is convenient when reimbursing the contractor, but looks to be more difficult to invoice out to the various clients (unless I've missed something)
  3. Again when a project ends, what's the mechanism to "deactivate" a Tag?

Does anyone here have suggestions on my proposed use-case? I don't know if it's worth mentioning but we use Xero for accounting (if that makes any difference?).

Many thanks.

Answers

  • tylerzolltylerzoll Posts: 412 Expensify Pro

    @agility, It sounds like you have some challenges, but they are not unique. The policy per project will probably become a little bit unwieldy. Just a fair warning, I don't think that was the original intent of how policies were supposed to be used. It's super easy to duplicate a policy, which makes that workflow appealing.

    Your requirement that you don't necessarily want folks who are not working on the project to be able to add expenses to a project that they are not working on is probably a policy requirement.

    At your company, there may be a little bit tighter control over expense reports than most, I just find it hard to imagine that an employee is going to pick the correct policy every time for an expense. They may get it done, but I think that the correction is going to be difficult when they accidentally mess up.

    Do you have a rough idea of how many employees will be submitting expense reports and how many projects an employee works on at one time? Also, is there a differentiator between the expenses that go to one policy vs. another?

    Regarding your markup, I think that there are going to be a few issues there. Usually the expenses flow through to the accounting software as expenses and not items. Currently I bill out some of my expenses from Expensify through NetSuite, but we had to create a custom script to convert the expenses into items then they bill at their billable rate. I'm not a Xero expert, but I'm pretty sure that they flow through as expenses there as well. I would think that the requirement would be to manually change the amount on the exported expenses to the correct billable amount in Xero.

    The way I always remember how expenses are assigned is that expenses are assigned to reports and reports are assigned to policies. If the user has the report set up ahead of time, then they can simply select the report that the expense goes on and that will resolve the issue. If the user does not create the report first, then they will have an issue.

    I believe that reports and expenses stay at the user level so if you delete the policy, it shouldn't be an issue. All of the submitted reports should still be there. I don't know of a way that you would really deactivate a policy.

    Unfortunately, there aren't multiple per diem rates, but I think it would be a good idea to have them. This is a place where the policy idea would work well but the tag idea falls short. Your employees could just enter a manual expense for per diem. Really there isn't much to the per diem feature besides locking employees from changing the rate, which is what you need to do.

    Maybe someone else can comment, but I think Xero should have projects that export to Expensify during the sync as tags. When you deactivate a project in Xero, then the tag should deactivate in Expensify. I know it works that way for NetSuite. This way your tags list would stay up to date automatically unlike the policy idea.

    Hope that helps and gives some ideas, sorry there aren't any real clear answers.

  • agilityagility Posts: 2 Expensify Newcomer

    Thanks Tyler, that's plenty of food for thought there! Just to answer some of your points:

    "I just find it hard to imagine that an employee is going to pick the correct policy every time for an expense" - Yes, my thoughts too

    "Do you have a rough idea of how many employees will be submitting expense reports and how many projects an employee works on at one time?" - Maybe 200 individuals, I've not seen more than three concurrent projects for an individual.

    "Usually the expenses flow through to the accounting software as expenses and not items" - OK I see the issue here. I think I'll try exporting to Excel first to put the data in the correct format to go into Xero.

    "is there a differentiator between the expenses that go to one policy vs. another" - Just the client that gets billed in the end, the margins might be different for each project/client too

    "The way I always remember how expenses are assigned is that expenses are assigned to reports and reports are assigned to policies. If the user has the report set up ahead of time, then they can simply select the report that the expense goes on and that will resolve the issue." - That first sentence should be at the top of the Expensify FAQs as that's really helpful! I'm going to play with setting up a couple of reports and see what the end-user experience is like.

    Thanks again, I'm going to have another play around with the above in mind.

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