Easy Answers: Expense Submissions
Reimbursement workflows are a common request, and can be tricky to implement, because every organization has different policies and practices around approving expenses. Some require different forums for different kinds of expenses, travel vs. training, for instance. Some have different approval processes, with smaller digital workplaces going directly to a Finance department, while others go through team leads or department heads before being passed along.
Today's example is designed to accommodate the simplest reimbursement workflow, but can be scaled for your organization. The main components of any expense submission workflow are:
- Structured submissions to ensure that all necessary information is included.
- Easy review and approval by the appropriate parties.
- Access-controlled publishing.
Forum Channels are the best-suited content type for expenses. They're easily organized into different views, and can be resolved and filtered based on resolution, giving you an easy view into requests that have been approved. Use Channel Templates to structure submissions, making sure to include necessary fields and highlight any additional requirements, such as attaching receipts to the submission. Channel Templates load automatically when creating content in that Channel, so your members will have a structure designed specifically for your needs to work with. Members will need Write access to the Forum Channel in order to make submissions.
To make submissions even easier, use an Add Button, Call to Action, or Links Widget to give people a way to submit expenses from your homepage, their team space, or both. If you're using different Channels for different kinds of expenses, a Links Widget can easily call out the differences and put people on the right path.
Regardless of how many Forum Channels you use, ensure that they're moderated by the appropriate teams. Moderation can be enabled in the Channel Settings, and Moderators can be added to list there. When a new submission is received, the moderators will be notified, and can review and approve the request, send it back to the author if it needs more information, or discuss it among themselves in the editing notes. We always recommend having at least two moderators for a Channel like this, in order to cover vacations and the like.
Once the review is complete, the moderators can publish to the Channel, but it's important to note that if all members have Write access there, they'll be able to see all approved expense submissions. A more common method is to have a secondary Forum Channel where the moderators have access, but all members do not. The moderation screen will let moderators publish there as the original submitter. The submitter will receive a notification that their request is approved, and the platform will create a specific access rule on that item that gives them access.
This special access rule means that while your Forum Channel for approved expenses is locked for members to access, you can create view in a Forum Topics widget that will pull in all of their approved requests, and only theirs. That makes it easy for them to review those requests later if necessary, and is an excellent addition to an expense submission Page.
To review, members use the submission link to create a forum topic, which automatically loads a channel template with the guidelines you've set up. Once they submit, it goes to your moderators, who can send it back or approve it, publishing to a different Channel with separate access to maintain privacy.
If you have questions about this use case or others, you can leave a comment here, or ask a question in the Community area.
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