By Nik Singh on March 17, 2021

Posted in News, Policy

The need to manage expenses is universal to all companies, but how exactly they track them is unique from organization to organization. That’s why I’m excited to announce a new set of features in Center Expense: Customizable Policy Controls. This new functionality, now available to all Center customers, builds on last fall’s Dynamic Approvals release and makes it easier than ever to set up your expense software to track the exact information you need, as efficiently and accurately as possible.

Why We Built This Feature

One complaint about traditional expense management software is that it doesn’t adapt easily to business processes, workflows, and accounting systems. When we talk to CFOs, controllers, and accountants, we often hear that they end up adapting their processes to match how their software works, when really it should be the other way around.

Sometimes this happens because expense reporting software uses a one-size-fits-all approach, with limited customization. Solutions like these tend to come with lower price tags, but they end up costing a lot more in time and manual work.

Other organizations select a high-end enterprise expense management solution that can be precisely customized and configured, but really only with the help of an outside consultant or professional services team. It’s a serious investment, in terms of both time and money. And once the system is up and running, any changes require more outside help.

In other words, most finance teams end up settling for software that doesn’t truly meet their needs and filling in the gaps with manual, time-consuming tasks to make it work for them.

We want to make it easy for every organization to manage expenses—exactly the way they want—without custom code or costly consultants.

Here’s a look at what Customizable Policy Controls makes possible.

Track the Information You Need

Maybe your business tracks expenses by location, job number, or client. You can add and edit any number of fields to capture the exact information you need. It’s easy to set up these types of fields in Center Expense. 

Create custom fields from the Admin tab in Center Expense.

Custom fields can include either pre-populated dropdown lists, which help ensure accurate data capture of things like project codes, or free-form fields, which are perfect for things like meal attendees or odometer readings.

Custom fields make accurate data capture in the Center mobile app easy. You can also control which fields appear to spenders, and when. 

Simplify Expensing for Employees 

There’s no need to worry about overwhelming employees with long lists and fields that don’t apply to them. With Customizable Policy Controls, you can easily choose which fields employees see in the Center mobile app, and when. 

For example, an organization with field services teams who drive company vehicles might set up a rule that says, “If the expense type is Fuel and the Cost Center is Field Services, then make the Vehicle Number field visible and required.” This field will only show up when those conditions are met, to keep things simple and uncluttered.

What you can do with these customization rules is powerful, but we designed the experience to be simple. If you’ve ever set up filters for booking flights or prioritized shows for recording in your DVR, you can easily set up rules in Center Expense. 

Build custom field rules to specify when employees are asked to provide additional expense details. See a written, plain language description of the rule to make sure it’s set up correctly.

Customize Approval Workflows

We introduced Dynamic Approvals last year to automate the routing of expense approvals based on spender, cost center, amount, and more. You can now route expenses by custom fields.

For example, the project managers in a non-profit conservation organization may have ultimate responsibility for keeping grant expenses within budget. With Customizable Policy Controls, they could  easily set up a rule to have all expenses for the City Foundation Grant routed to the foundation manager for review and approval, regardless of who incurred theml. You can even create multi-level routing, so direct managers review employee spend first.

Create dynamic approval rules based on custom fields, such as grant or project, to streamline expense reviews.

Customizable Policy Controls offer power and flexibility to organizations with complex expense processes. These features will be particularly helpful to non-profit, construction, manufacturing, professional services, and any other organizations that need to track expenses by job, project, client, or grant.

In the coming months, you’ll see even more functionality in Customizable Policy Controls and new feature releases designed to automate the expense process from spend to booking to the GL.

For a detailed look at these features in action, check out our Customizable Policy Controls video:

Customizable Policy Controls Video

Nik Singh is Center’s vice president of product management. He and his team are working on new ways to streamline, automate, and optimize the entire expense management process, from spending and expensing through closing the books and analyzing data.