A men leaves his wife and kids embarking on a long journey. Travelling 16,000 miles in 24 hours, crossing oceans and continents.
His time is shifted, everything seems blurry , the immune system is falling apart and the streets have no name.
Sleepless nights and sleeping pills in an anonymous motel But the worst part of business travel is filing an expense report afterwords.
One can use the fake “Expense Report Generator” , but for the honest people life is much harder.
About ten years ago it was relatively simple:
* Company bought the airplane tickets, hotel vouchers and car rental vouchers
* Eating and general costs were $45-50 a day
* For other larger costs one should have brought receipts (Taxis , Hospitality)
* For a long travel an employee could get a cash advance or a deposit to his bank account
Nowadays it has become much worst , although automation should have made life simpler
* The fixed daily amount was deleted, so a receipt is needed for every item purchased, even $1 bubble gum.
* The previous allowance is now the daily maximum . Let’s say on Monday I was extremely busy with customer visits and only grabbed a $7 Burger King lunch. On Tuesday I ate the hotel breakfast ($23), some vietnamis noodles for lunch ($7) and nice Italian dinner in San Francisco ($50) . In the past, corporate would understand people might not eat the same way every day. These days the corporate would reimburse me $57 for the two days , instead of $87 actually “eaten”.
* Since sales people abused their expense accounts to get lap dances, every receipt has to be “Itemized” . Corporates want to validate that expenses are not spent on Whiskey, Women and fancy Falafel. I’m quite confident that sales people have ways to solve the problem, but for the poor developers that’s just another annoying rule.
* There is no cash advance. The employee is supposed to pay for all the expenses with his private credit card. “Corporate Credit Card” are a fiction and do not really exist in Israel.Even in the US the mechanism is problematic , because the employee is personally liable for unpaid accounts, and his credit reputation might be damaged when corporate delays payments.
The problem , like in many other cases, is that finance department focuses on the minority of unethical employees and creates a huge bureaucratic workflow that wastes more money than it aims to saves. While finance administration might be easier, it is amazing that an employee needs to spend 3-4 hours post travel to get back the private money he spent.
Since the costs of checking all these rules become very high, many corporates outsource the auditing to a far away country, with people who can’t read our language and have litle understanding of business, business travel and local facts. Try and explain to an auditor from India your Hebrew Receipt for a Big Data conference (or vice versa).
Of course, once you get high enough in the pyramid , you can delegate such chores to your admin (I’m guilty as charged) , and once you get high enough to change the process you forget how annoying this type of activity is…..