PROPOSAL: LUNCH & LEARN SESSION ON TRAVEL CLAIMS
Hosting a Lunch and Learn session on completing travel claims would improve staff efficiency, reduce the number of claims returned to the office for correction, and lessen the wait time for reimbursements.
Executive Summary. 2
Workflow Diagram.. 3
Topics Covered. 3
Required Materials. 4
Budget/Cost Analysis. 4
Possible Risks/Setbacks. 5
Appendix A: Systems Travel Policy. 7
University Systems employees regularly complete travel claims to be reimbursed for business-related travel expenses. If these claims are completed correctly, the review time required for General Office clerks is minimal and employees receive their reimbursements within three weeks. However, incomplete or incorrect claims can delay reimbursement and create 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 (12:00-1:00pm).
Many University Systems employees travel for business purposes, whether to attend a BCNET meeting in Vancouver or to participate in an international conference. University policies require employees to use personal funds to arrange their trip and then submit expense claims for reimbursement after the trip concludes. In ideal conditions, Accounts Payable reimburses travel claims within three weeks.
The processing time for travel claims increases when employees are unfamiliar with the reimbursement procedure. If Accounts Payable receives incomplete or incorrect forms, they return the forms to the claimant via inter-campus mail with an attached memo listing 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 their mail and how quickly they are able to correct their claims, the claim process may be delayed by several weeks. Employees who have paid for international flights and hotels on personal credit cards must pay their credit card bills out of pocket or risk incurring interest charges.
Incorrect travel claims also place an administrative burden on General Office clerks. The Systems General Office clerks regularly assist with preparing travel expense claims, particularly when employees are unfamiliar with the process. All travel claims should be submitted to the General Office for review before they are signed by supervisors and submitted to Accounts Payable. Clerks check the forms for completion, enter account numbers where necessary, obtain signatures from supervisors, and file electronic copies of the claims. If claims are incomplete, the clerks must also locate missing information and receipts. If claims are incorrect, the clerk may have to redo the claim form. The workload for clerks would be reduced if employees were able to submit complete, error-free claims accompanied by all necessary paperwork.
University Systems regularly hosts informal Lunch & Learn sessions organized by the Living Values Committee. These sessions allow 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:
- Systems travel policy
- Travel claim workflow
- Travel advances and prepaid air claims
- Components of the travel claim form
- Requirements for back up receipts
- Lost receipt declaration forms for missing receipts
- Prohibited expenses
- Foreign exchange rates
- Account coding information
- Required authorizations/signatures
- Common errors and how to avoid them
- Audience questions
The session would run for approximately one hour, 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 could be booked through the Office of the Registrar for no cost. All 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. Because the session takes place over the lunch hour, attendees may also choose to bring food.
The time commitment for this project is minimal. I have outlined the necessary steps below.
||Time Required (Hours)
|Contact Living Values Committee to pitch the topic
|Research content of the presentation
|Draft content of the presentation
|Book conference room and arrange supplies and refreshments
Hosting a basic Lunch & Learn is free. However, hosts may order refreshments through Degrees Catering to encourage higher attendance. The table below breaks down the optional refreshment costs.
||Approximate Cost (for 30 attendees)
|Coffee and Tea
I recommend ordering coffee and tea as well as cookies to increase attendance, a total cost of $80 for 30 attendees.
I would host the Lunch and Learn. As 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.
While drafting the presentation, I would consult the Administrative Officer regarding departmental travel policies to ensure the information presented is accurate. 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:
|Information presented is incorrect or incomplete
||Research information thoroughly·
Confirm information with Administrative Officer
Contact Accounts Payable to verify information
|Staff members are confused by information presented
||Allow time for questions following presentation
Provide contact information for Accounts Payable department
|Conference room is not available
||Contact Office of the Registrar to book alternative room at no cost
If necessary, postpone session until the room is available
|Few people register for lecture
||Send additional emails advertising session
Target emails at staff who frequently travel and at leadership team
Offer additional refreshments
If necessary, postpone 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 session
Locate an alternative staff member to assist with that portion
If necessary, postpone session until the resource is available
Training staff to complete their own travel claims correctly before submitting them to the General Office for review would reduce the workload for clerks, allowing more time to be spent on other priorities. 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.
Appendix A: Systems Travel Policy
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“Expenses and Payments” [Slideshow Presentation]. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.uvic.ca/vpfo/accounting/assets/docs/acctpayable/resources/expenses-payments-presentation.pdf