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How Can the Construction Industry Solve the Receipt Collection Problem?

Ratnika Sharma
Posted by Ratnika Sharma on Feb 19, 2024 2:08:33 PM

Field workers are already swamped with work. And to ask them to store receipts, submit on time, keep track of reimbursements - is nothing short of an uphill task.

Moreover, when field employees use business credit cards, they have to store receipts and come to the back office to submit them. Delayed submissions mean accountants cannot close the books on time. 

From purchase to reimbursements, the whole process is a potholed road for both employees and accountants, wrought with inefficiencies along the way. 

To understand this paper chase better, we spoke to our customers in the construction industry and uncovered their real struggles with receipt submission and collection. Here’s what we found.

Reasons field workers say they are unable to submit receipts on time (and how to solve it)

1. Manual paperwork

Manual work is part of the job. Why should manual paperwork be? 

One of the primary reasons for delayed receipt submission is the reliance on manual paperwork. 

Field workers often collect physical receipts during their tasks, and the cumbersome process of filling out paper forms, sorting receipts, and physically submitting them can be time-consuming. 

The fix: The transition to digital expense management systems can alleviate this issue by allowing for quicker and more efficient submission. 

For example, if submitting expenses could be as easy as taking a picture of the receipt and uploading it to the platform for instant reconciliation, then the entire process of receipts to reimbursement could be potentially brought down to just a few days. 

2. Lack of access to technology

In some cases, field workers may not have easy access to the necessary technology for submitting receipts promptly. 

Limited access to smartphones or other digital devices can hinder their ability to upload receipts in real time. 

The fix: Employers can consider providing their field staff with user-friendly mobile applications or other tech solutions to simplify the submission process. 

3. Team is not tech-savvy

Field workers may struggle with complicated expense reporting systems that require extensive details and documentation. 

If the process is too intricate, workers may delay submission to avoid dealing with the complexity. 

The fix: Employers can address this issue by implementing user-friendly interfaces that have zero learning curves and are customizable to industry-specific requirements. 

4. Not their primary job

Field workers often juggle various tasks and responsibilities throughout the day. In the midst of a busy schedule, submitting receipts might be the last they want to do. 

The fix: With a user-friendly, zero-learning-curve receipt management app, field workers can snap, submit, and get back to work faster. 

5. Intricacies of cost-plus pricing

It is not news that cost-plus pricing constitutes a big part of construction-related accounting, and often, the delay in reimbursements is caused by third-party verifications. 

The fix: Automated expense management systems allow organizations to add customers as third parties into the approval system. This means that when the field worker submits an expense report, the customers can verify the expenses from within the system and pass it on to the accountant. 

This drastically reduces the time from purchase to reimbursements and ensures a smoother flow. 

6. Unforeseen Circumstances

Fieldwork often involves unpredictable situations, such as travel delays, unexpected challenges, or emergencies. 

These unforeseen circumstances can disrupt the regular workflow and contribute to delayed receipt submissions.

The fix: Organizations should cultivate a supportive and flexible environment to accommodate such situations while maintaining a focus on timely reporting. 

The impact of late receipt submissions 

Chasing employees for receipts

Late receipt submission often triggers a relentless pursuit by project managers and finance teams to gather the necessary documentation. 

This chasing game not only consumes valuable time and resources but can also strain relationships between workers and management. 

Organizing receipts becomes a nightmare

Late submission of receipts also complicates the task of organizing and categorizing these expenses. Coding these receipts to project, cost type, cost code, and billable expenses is nothing short of an ordeal. 

Finance teams may find themselves grappling with disorganized piles of receipts, leading to inefficiencies in expense tracking and increased potential for errors. 

No Visibility into Spend

Late receipt submission translates to a lack of real-time visibility into project spending. Without accurate and up-to-date information, construction companies face challenges in making informed financial decisions. 

The absence of visibility into spend can lead to budget overruns, hinder strategic planning, and impact the overall financial health of the project. 

Solving the receipt dilemma

In the construction industry, where precision and efficiency are paramount, the impact of late receipt submission by workers reverberates across various facets of project management. 

Both receipt submission and collection take up significant time for workers and accountants despite it not being their primary job. And it doesn't have to be this way. 

Did you know that with modern expense management tools, field workers can snap pictures and text receipts in seconds, with no need for hoarding or manually dropping off receipts in the office? This enables accountants to collect receipts 5x faster without chasing employees, eliminate hours of manual data entry, and enjoy real-time visibility into project costs. 

Yes, this is possible. Expense management platforms like Fyle allow receipt submission via text messages. This ensures zero learning curve for your field employees, an easy app-less experience, and 100% faster adoption.

Sponsored Content: This article is generously brought to you by one of our valued sponsors. Their support enables us to continue delivering expert insights and the latest industry trends to our dedicated community of accounting professionals.

Topics: Modern Practice


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