PROPOSAL: LUNCH & LEARN SESSION ON TRAVEL CLAIMS
Hosting a Lunch and Learn lecture on completing travel claims would improve efficiency, reduce the number of claims returned for correction, and lessen the wait time for reimbursements.
University Systems employees regularly complete travel reimbursement claims. If these claims are completed correctly by the employee, the reimbursement is received within three weeks and the review time required for General Office clerks is minimal. However, incomplete or incorrect claims can lead to delays in reimbursement and additional work for clerks. A Lunch & Learn session on completing travel claims could be held with optional costs of up to $150 and a time commitment of only 7.5 hours. Hosting this session would reduce reimbursement wait times, allow clerks to focus on other priorities, and promote our departmental values of Communication & Information Sharing and Continuous Learning.
This is a proposal to plan and host a one-hour “Lunch & Learn” session on Travel Expense Claims. I would run this session in our main conference room over the lunch hour.
Many employees in University Systems travel for business purposes, whether to attend a BCNET meeting in Vancouver or to participate in a conference outside of Canada. University policies require these employees use personal funds to arrange their trip and then submit expense claims for reimbursement after the trip concludes. In ideal conditions, an expense claim takes approximately three weeks to be processed by Accounts Payable before the payment is issued via direct deposit.
The processing time for travel claims is increased when employees are unfamiliar with the reimbursement procedure. If claims are submitted to Accounts Payable with missing or incorrect information, they are returned to the claimant via inter-campus mail with an attached memo indicating the required corrections. An internal audit conducted by Accounts Payable in 2013 indicated a 29% error rate on travel and business expense claims (“Expenses and Payments,” 2014).
Depending on how often the claimant checks his or her mail slot and how quickly he or she is able to make the necessary corrections, the claim process may be delayed by a range of three days to several weeks. For employees who have paid for international flights and extended hotels on personal credit cards, this may present financial difficulties.
The Systems General Office clerks regularly assist with the preparation of travel expense claims, particularly when employees are unfamiliar with the way travel claims work. While travel claims should be submitted to the General Office for review prior to supervisor signoff and submission to Accounts Payable, the workload on administrative clerks in the office would be greatly reduced if employees were able to submit complete, error-free claims accompanied by all necessary paperwork to the General Office.
Our department regularly hosts informal Lunch & Learn sessions, organized by the Living Values Committee. These sessions offer an opportunity for colleagues to share their expertise and undertake cross-training in a casual, enjoyable way. A Lunch & Learn session on completing travel claims would be an efficient and cost-effective way to refresh employee knowledge and, as a result, improve processing times and increase efficiency in the Systems General Office. Additionally, hosting a Lunch & Learn session would support our departmental values, particularly Communication & Information Sharing and Continuous Learning & Development.
The lunch and learn session would cover the following topics:
- Systems travel policy
- Travel claim workflow
- Travel advances and prepaid air
- Components of the travel claim form
- Requirements for back up receipts
- Lost receipt declaration forms
- Prohibited expenses
- Foreign exchange rates
- Account coding information
- Required authorizations/signatures
- Common errors and how to avoid them
The session would be approximately one hour in length, including a 45-minute lecture with slides and 15 minutes for audience questions.
The session would be held in the Systems Conference room, which comfortably seats 25 attendees. If more than twenty employees RSVP, an alternate room can be booked through the Office of the Registrar for no cost. All available rooms are equipped with the necessary audio-visual equipment for a slideshow presentation.
Attendees may choose to bring a laptop or a notepad to take notes, but these are not required.
The time commitment for this project is minimal. I have outlined the necessary steps below.
|Task||Time Required (Hours)|
|Contact Living Values Committee to pitch the topic||0.5|
|Draft the content of the presentation||3.00|
|Rehearse the presentation||2.00|
|Book conference room and arrange supplies and refreshments||1.00|
|Deliver the presentation||1.00|
Hosting a basic Lunch & Learn is free. However, there is the option of providing refreshments to encourage higher attendance. The table below breaks down the optional refreshment costs.
|Optional Refreshment||Approximate Cost (for 30 attendees)|
|Coffee and Tea||$60|
I recommend ordering Coffee and Tea as well as cookies to increase attendance, a total cost of $80 for 30 attendees.
The Lunch and Learn would be hosted by myself, one of the clerks in the Systems General Office. I have over two years of experience completing and reviewing travel claims. In December 2014, I attended a training session held by Accounts Payable explaining the travel claim process and reviewing common errors.
During the drafting of the presentation, the Administrative Officer would be consulted regarding departmental travel policies to ensure the accuracy of the information presented. Additionally, one member of the Systems Living Values Committee would assist with the development and promotion of the Lunch & Learn event.
The following table shows potential risks and setbacks and how those risks and setbacks might be prevented or mitigated:
|Potential Risk/Setback||Prevention/Mitigation Strategies|
|Information presented is incorrect or incomplete.||· Research information thoroughly.
· Confirm the information with the Administrative Officer.
· Reach out to Accounts Payable to verify information.
|Staff members are confused by information presented.||· Allow time for questions following the presentation.
· Provide contact information for Accounts Payable staff.
|Conference room is not available.||· Contact Office of the Registrar to book alternative room at no cost.
· If necessary, postpone the lecture until the room is available.
|Few people register for lecture.||· Increase the number of emails advertising the session.
· Target emails at staff who frequently travel and at leadership team.
· Offer additional refreshments.
· If necessary, postpone the session until more staff can attend.
|Cost of refreshments is over budget.||· Confirm food price quotes prior to submitting orders.
· If necessary, cancel or reduce food order.
|One of the required resources has competing priorities and cannot complete their tasks.||· Confirm availability prior to planning the session.
· Locate an alternative staff member to assist with that portion.
· If necessary, postpone the session until the resource is available.
Training staff to complete their own travel claims completely and correctly before submitting them to the General Office for review would improve efficiency for the clerks, allowing more time to be spent on other administrative work. Additionally, with fewer claims returned for correction, employees would be reimbursed more quickly, reducing personal financial strain. Finally, organizing an educational event supports many of our top departmental values, including Continuous Learning & Development, and Communication & Information Sharing.
My conclusion is that hosting a Lunch and Learn training session on travel claims would be an effective, low-cost way to expedite travel reimbursements, minimize work required by General Office clerks, and promote departmental values.
Thank you for taking the time to review this proposal. Please respond to me by Monday, February 29 indicating whether I may proceed with planning this event. I can be contacted by email or telephone if you have any questions or concerns. I look forward to hearing from you.
Removed from this sample for privacy and security.
“Expenses and Payments” [Slideshow Presentation]. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.uvic.ca/vpfo/accounting/assets/docs/acctpayable/resources/expenses-payments-presentation.pdf