Flow Chart Design

Design a Flowchart for a Process
OPS571/ Operations Management
October 1, 2012
Jose L. Hernandez, MBA

Flow Chart: Travel Expense Reports

Task: Filing Travel Expense Reports

Gathering Receipts

Entering Opportunity updates in CRM
Entering ERP Travel Expenses
Writing Trip Reports
Mailing Receipts & Reports

Decisions: Expense Policies

Identifying key CRM opportunities
Getting approval for any budget exceptions
Filing/Locating Expense Receipts
Summarizing Meeting Action Items

Process Delays

Reporting/CRM Entry Delays
Awaiting Electronic receipts
Acct / Mgmt Approval
Replacing lost paper receipts

Scanned Receipts
What to consider

Factors that Affect the Process Design
The travel expense report process is a time-consuming process that has significant impact on personal cash flow. Because my business travel averages four days per week, managing expense reports requires significant time. Failure to stay on top of this process results in slow reimbursement which can result in expensive interest charges. The average turnaround time between incurring a business travel expense and being reimbursed is 45 days. The goal of focusing on the inefficiencies in the process and re-engineering this workflow will be to reduce that time by 3 weeks. Because credit card expenses have a 30 day grace period, reducing the turnaround time by 3 weeks will eliminate the interest expenses associated with the slow process.
The task of filing travel expense reports includes several personal steps. These are: gathering receipts, writing trip reports, entering opportunity updates in the CRM (customer relationship management) software salesforce.com, entering travel expenses into the ERP system for reimbursement, and finally mailing receipts and reports to accounting.
With these tasks, there are also several decisions that must be made. These include: evaluating expenses against accounting policies to ensure expenses and documentation meet requirements; filing and locating expense receipts, summarizing meeting action items for management, identifying key CRM opportunities to be reported, and getting approval for any budget exceptions. Because several of these decisions can be time-consuming, it can lead to procrastination when there are more urgent matters to address.
The expense process can also be impacted by significant delays. Using the corporate credit card can have delays in receiving electronic receipts for up to one week. For any cash or non-corporate credit card transaction, there are often lost receipts. Replacing lost paper receipts can be time-consuming as you must get businesses to fax or mail you replacement receipts. These must all be gathered before the expense report can be submitted for approval. Approval processes can also create lengthy delays. There are 4 levels of approval for all expense receipts that include organizational vice-president, department accounting, organizational comptroller, and accounts payable. Each approval typically takes 2-3 business days with the process being lengthened if any key approver is on vacation. Any discrepancies that are caused by mis-keyed data or inadequate explanations can cause a rejection by the approver that will push the process back to its starting point. Further, if there are proof-of-performance metrics, like opportunity reporting or CRM entry, delays can be created that prevent initial expense report submission.
Reengineering this process has potentials to find new efficiencies and cost savings. The time efficiencies can be created by automating the process. For instance, daily scanning and electronic filing of receipts will not only prepare the information for quicker submission, it will eliminate the delay caused by lost receipts.
Automation, however, must still comply with corporate travel policy. This includes documentation of all expenses with the purpose of the expense, attendees for any entertainment activity, and budget approval codes. This requires investigation around any flexibility within the current policy parameters to be explored to see where technology and automation can improve the process. Further, to ensure minimal delays in the back-office, pre-approval for any expenses outside standard processes should be requested in advance.
Metric to Measure the Process
The key metrics used to measure process will be daily time allocated and turnaround time for reimbursement. The amount of time for each step of process will be documented with the current workflow. This time will be totaled for a weekly summary. This will be compared against the amount of time required with the improved workflow and the total time used each week.

Chase, R. B., Jacobs, F. R., & Aquilano, N. J. (2006). Operations Management for Competitive
Advantage (11th ed.). Boston: McGraw Hill/Irwin.