How to review and approve expenses claims

Expenses going online

The University is moving from the paper expenses claim form to SAP Concur eExpenses for most expense claims. Social Sciences Division departments will be early adopters of eExpenses, to allow for a review before it is introduced more widely, with other departments and participating colleges being able to introduce it two weeks later and choosing exactly when to do so during the window until the current paper form is retired.  The project has encountered some technical issues integrating eExpenses with the existing University systems which has resulted in a delay in eExpenses going live. Dates will be confirmed and published here when known.

 

 

All claims are reviewed to confirm that they meet the expenses principles and any additional funder requirements, and approved by an authorised signatory with delegated authority to commit spend on behalf of the University.

 

In SAP Concur eExpenses, submitted claims flow via a system workflow to various approvers, who receive email notification when a claim is ready for review. The system stores an audit trail of approvals. Offline claim forms should follow a similar review process.  

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

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Responsibility

  • Confirms that the activity has taken place and is legitimate to charge to their budget
  • Considers the Expenses Principles and any relevant restrictions (for example, funder, donation, trust fund or any departmental terms and conditions)

Who should hold this role

  • The budget-holder is responsible for the budget and may be the Principle Investigator (PI) or task manager, a manager, or hold a role such as course director, director of graduate studies etcetera
  • On projects, the role should be held by the PI or task manager (not delegated to the finance team)

eExpenses

  • This role is required for projects and optional for cost centres
  • The approval limit is zero (and therefore these roles do not form part of the formal scheme of delegation)

Responsibility

  • Checks that the expense is in line with the expenses principles as outlined in the University Expenses Policy. Checks include confirming receipts are correct and explanations are reasonable, and that claims have been fully completed
  • Confirms the claim is coded appropriately
  • Considers any relevant restrictions (for example, donation, trust fund or any departmental terms and conditions)

Who should hold this role

  • This role is likely to be held by Finance Assistants or Finance Officers
  • The roleholder should have sufficient knowledge and experience to interpret the expenses principles and guidance and query where appropriate

eExpenses

  • Approver Level 1 in the hierarchy reviews all claims
  • The approval limit is zero (and therefore these roles do not form part of the formal scheme of delegation)
  • If you want another approver's opinion, you can use the 'Approve and Forward' button and select the appropriate person

Responsibility

  • Confirms compliance with the expenses principles as outlined in the University Expenses Policy, taking assurance from the claimant and the budget-holder declarations that the costs are legitimate business expenses
  • Takes overall responsibility for confirming this is a legitimate expense to be refunded

Who should hold this role

  • The roleholder is ultimately responsible for deciding whether the claim is legitimate or not
  • The role is likely to be held by Finance Managers and Heads of Administration and Finance (or equivalent)
  • The roleholder should have sufficient seniority to challenge expenses where appropriate

eExpenses

  • There are two levels of financial authority:
    1. Approver Level 2, £1,000 limit, reviews all claims
    2. Approver Level 3, £10,000 limit, reviews claims between £1,000 and £10,000
  • If you want another approver's opinion, you can use the 'Approve and Forward' button and select the appropriate person
  • These roles form part of the department’s formal scheme of delegation

Expense claims for senior staff receive additional approval as set out in the table below. This is to avoid claims being authorised by staff junior to the person receiving payment to protect them from pressure to approve a claim.

Claimant Authoriser
Head of Administration and Finance (or equivalent) Head of Department or any of the officers below
Head of Department Head of Division
Divisional Registrar
Divisional Financial Controller
Any of the officers below
Head of Division or Pro-Vice Chancellor Director of Finance (or Divisional Financial Controller as their delegate)
Registrar (or Divisional Registrar as their delegate)
Vice Chancellor
Vice Chancellor Chancellor
Chancellor Chairman of Audit Committee
APPROVING VIA eEXPENSES

Once a claim is submitted in eExpenses, it enters a workflow and is approved by a number of different roles. Each time a claim is approved, it progresses through the system to the next level until it is ready for payment.

Types of approval

  • Budget-holder approval: required on project codes and optional on cost centres. On projects, the PI or task manager should be set up as the budget-holder
  • Approval hierarchy: 1 pence, £1,000 and £10,000 levels, allowing finance team review followed by financial approval of the claim

Approval action

  • Approvers receive notification when a claim is ready for approval and should review it carefully (the responsibilities of the different approvers are set out below)
  • eExpenses includes a series of warning messages to help by directing your attention to particular risks. In many cases, a claimant will have been asked to provide more information, and you should review the comments and seek further information if you do not consider the answer complete
  • There are three possible actions:
    • Approve: approved claims progress to the next stage in the workflow, ultimately reaching the Finance Division for payment
    • Return to employee: you can return the claim to the claimant to provide more information, make a change, or remove a taxable item to be submitted via the offline Expenses Claim Form (Externals) instead. You should provide details of why you have returned the claim
    • Approve and forward: hierarchy approvers only (not budget-holders). This enables you to seek another approver’s opinion, by selecting an appropriate person. Please note that although at this stage you are approving the claim, by forwarding it to another approver, your approval is taken to mean that this is subject to their agreement

Managing approvers and delegates

  • To request set up of an approver on the system, an online service request form should be submitted. Guidance and links to the form are available on the Managing Access page
  • Budget–holder: only one budget-holder can be set up for each project or cost centre. When absent (for example on leave), budget-holders can set up a delegate to manage their approvals for them. Delegates are set up via your profile
  • Approval hierarchy: each step in the approval hierarchy is set up as a master account, with individual approvers added as delegates. It is recommended that more than one approver is set up in the 1 pence and £1, 000 positions to provide cover and ensure that all claims can be approved (no approver can approve their own claim)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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  • The individual expense items will be routed to the appropriate approver
  • The claim will only move forward to the next approval level when all the relevant project or GL code items have been approved
  • Funder rules are not checked automatically by the system
  • However, there are rules built into eExpenses to display messages and prompt claimants and approvers to check items on projects carefully
  • Once an expenses item is saved against a project code in eExpenses the funder name will be displayed
  • Yes, the claim and receipts can be printed if required
  • The printed claim shows all the information held on the system and receipts can be printed individually

An approver (and their delegates) can view and access all the claims they have approved.

  • Yes, a claimant can ‘recall’ a claim up until final approval, add or amend comments and resubmit it
  • The claim would then go back to the beginning of the workflow
  • No
  • eExpenses does not allow for 'self approval' so there are rules in place so that someone who submits an expense claim is then not in the approval chain for that claim
  • Some fields will be automatically populated in eExpenses, which means checking of individual expense claims by the Central Payments team within Finance Division will be significantly reduced
  • This will free up their time to investigate problems or queries, and to undertake post payment analysis of claims using the eExpenses reporting capability
  • The claimant will need to enter the coding for GL or project codes in order to create their claim
  • Only cost centres and / or projects relevant to the department selected can be entered
  • As an aid, the most recently used cost codes are visible at the top of the drop down boxes
  • However, as an approver you can correct errors on a claim but it is recommended that you try to educate claimants to get this information right first time by returning the claim for the claimant to correct
  • A budget-holder approver can change the cost code (project or GL cost centre code). If they do so, they will be forced to acknowledge the change and add a comment saying that the update will change the approval workflow and the claim will then be routed to the budget-holder approver of the new cost code
  • If the level 1 approver changes the cost code (project code or GL cost centre) the claim will progress through the workflow to the level 2 approver of the original cost code.  In order to ensure the claim is checked by the correct budget-holder approver, the level 1 approver has two options:
    1. The recommended method is to return the claim to the claimant asking them to update the code (this can be done by adding a comment) and to resubmit it so that it then flows to the correct budget-holder approver
    2. The level 1 approver can also update the code themselves and then use the ‘approve and forward’ button to forward it to the budget-holder approver for the updated cost code.  To do this they will need to know who that approver is so they can select the correct name from the list
  • No, but as a budget-holder approver you can add delegate approvers, for example to cover absences 
  • The delegate would act in lieu of the approver, rather than as an additional step in the process
  • Additional steps cannot be built into eExpenses 
  • You can use the 'Approve and Forward' function to ask someone else to review the claim, but you will have already approved the claim
  • Yes, the claim name will be loaded to R12
  • Additionally, a Claim Key will also be loaded to R12, so there will be more than one way of locating the claim in both systems
    [The Claim Key is a system generated number, unique to the University]
  • No, forms no longer need submitting
  • Payroll will be able to run reports to provide PSA information to HMRC
  • GL codes and project information will be uploaded to eExpenses daily
  • Employee updates will be made weekly
  • Project codes will be closed in eExpenses after the two months tidying period following the project end date

No, supplier type for expenses will not lock out after a year

  • The supplier lists are provided by the SAP Concur eExpenses system
  • This can be overridden if required
  • VAT is built into the system by expense type and where the cost is incurred
  • The University has taken the decision not to record or reclaim VAT for expenses from eExpenses
  • However, the information is being collected so that analysis can be done to consider changing in the future

EXPENSES CLAIM FORM (XLS) For use until eExpenses live in your department

LINK TO SAP Concur 

For use when eExpenses live in your department

University company/SSO code

For first time mobile app log-in when eExpenses live in your department

 

Downloads and related links


Guidance and support


Help


Using eExpenses: SAP Concur 24/7 support (details available when eExpenses live)

Payment query: payments@admin.ox.ac.uk