Walsall Housing Group Digitises Colleague Expenses

Walsall Housing Group (whg) is using Expenses to digitise its colleague expenses process, reduce the cost and administrative burden of managing expense claims, and ensure compliance with the company’s expenses policy whilst reducing the time taken to reimburse colleagues. The system has been live for 24-months.

  • Self-service cloud technology digitises staff expenses
  • 98% of payroll & expense transactions now transferred to payroll electronically
  • Cuts time spent managing expenses from 20-hours weekly to 4-hours monthly
  • Reduces administration colleagues required to manage expenses by 50%
  • Ensures expenses policy compliance
  • Speeds up colleague reimbursement and increases transparency of claims status
  • Cuts paper and paper storage costs from claims process 

In use by the Human Resources team, Expenses is a vital component of the team’s commitment to automate HR, payroll and expenses, and employee self-service. Through a combination of systems, 98% of whg’s payroll and expenses transactions can now be sent to its payroll provider electronically.

Expenses, also accessible to the Finance Team, has helped to reduce time spent managing colleague expense claims from 20 hours per week to less than half a day per month with a Finance Officer now only reviewing receipts. The Finance Team responsible for managing expenses has been reduced to one person with the second now free to focus on other finance functions. 

Mike Sutton, Human Resources Manager, whg, says: “We employ 660 people with around 150 colleagues claiming expenses, mostly mileage, regularly. For example, a Surveyor might travel between several of our properties during the day. All of our properties are based in a 10-mile radius, so it’s very easy to create a lot of small mileage entries, which in the past has created an administrative headache for everyone involved. 

It wasn’t unheard of for claims to be 3-4 sheets long, especially if a colleague had stored them up to save themselves some time. Equally, from time to time claims could take two or more weeks to process if a line manager was on holiday or if there was a query. And, claims could go more than one month for reimbursement if a pay run was missed.”    

The new system from Software Europe is embedded with whg’s expenses policy. Colleagues can only submit expenses which match the policy. The system automatically flags expense items outside of the policy and, if a line manager approves an expenses item outside of policy, they must provide a business case to support the cost. The system also sets deadlines for claims to be reimbursed which helps discourage claimants from storing up items for long periods of time.     

Colleagues can now submit their own claims with supporting receipts online. Line managers review and approve claims online too. A member of the Finance Team can check and review digital copies of every receipt online and to ensure compliance policy, VAT and other HMRC rules. Claimants are reimbursed monthly.  

Kelly Chapman, HR Officer, whg says: “Our colleagues like the system because its straight-forward, it’s easy to use and makes it easier to be reimbursed for their claims. There is less paper involved, claims are being processed more quickly and our colleagues also like the fact they can track progress of their case online and through email alerts. As a HR function, we want to pay people on time and pay them the right money; Expenses is helping us to do that.”

In the future, the HR Team will make greater use of Expenses mobile app’ which will provide colleagues with even greater flexibility to submit expenses items, particularly for mileage claims using the app’s Add, Add Stop and Finish functionality along with instant uploading of receipts. They will also make greater use of Expenses’ unique rules and flagging system to make the rules tighter and further automate the approvals process.

whg, established in March 2003, manages around 20,000 general need social housing properties across the Walsall area. It employs 680 people – half office based and half working from remote locations and sites around Walsall. The Group is responsible for renting of properties, tailoring of properties to individual needs, re-allocation of properties; repairs, maintenance and building of new properties. 

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