How CIOs Can Get Travel Expenses Under Control

CIOs can end up spending a lot of their limited budget on travel
CIOs can end up spending a lot of their limited budget on travel
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As the person with the CIO job one of your greatest challenges is to find ways to keep your department’s spending under control on top of the everyday challenge of letting the rest of the company know about the importance of information technology. One of the biggest drains on your budget can be travel expenses. What you need to do is to find a way to keep your travel expenses under control without appearing to come across as an overbearing boss.

The Problems With Micromanagement

Let’s face it, expense reports are just one of those annoying things that are a part of everyday life in business. I think that everyone knows this. However, expense reports are also a gateway to misbehavior.

All too often your employees will think that nobody is looking when they fill out their expense reports. What this means is that the story that their expense report tells may stray from what really happened on their business trip. The reasons for this can be varied.

Sure, there is the employee who is just looking to scam some extra cash from the company. However, there is also the employee who feels that they’ve been slighted by the company because it wouldn’t pay for a meal that was too expensive or a hotel that was not on the approved list. You can see that your employees can probably justify almost any expense to themselves.

Right now your only line of defense against improper expenses on an employee’s expense report is your finance department. Or should I say your overworked finance department. They don’t know what kind of trip your employee went on or why they went. They’ll be able to catch any glaring errors, but it’s really the little stuff that will kill your IT budget in the end.

How To Keep Travel Expenses Under Control

As person in the CIO position you have the double challenge of trying to find ways to keep your IT budget under control while not coming across to your employees as being an overbearing boss. What this means is that you need to find a way to ensure that only accurate expense reports get turned in while keeping yourself out of the process.

A great way to go about making this happen is to make all expense reports public knowledge. Every time an employee turns in an expense report, convert it into HTML and publish it as a web page on your company’s Intranet.

What this is going to do, very quickly, is to make everyone realize that there may be a lot of eyeballs looking at their every expense report. People who went with the employee on the trip will be the first ones to be able to identify when there is something out of whack with an expense report. Your employees will quickly learn that if they try to pull any quick ones, they will be found out by their peers.

What All Of This Means For You

In addition to staying on top of trends in technology and what they mean for the company, as CIO you are also responsible for managing the IT department’s budget. A key part of this budget can be travel expenses and finding a way to keep them under control is an important part of your job as CIO.

The one thing that you don’t want to do is to come across to your department staff as being a micromanager. If you devote a significant part of your time to reviewing people’s expense reports and then asking them questions about the travel decisions that they’ve made, then this is how you’ll be seen. A much better way is to make all expense reports public. By making it easy for other employees to view someone’s expense report, you’ll enlist more eyeballs to keep everyone under control and expenses in line.

The trick to being a successful CIO is manage your IT department in a way that doesn’t make your department feel like they are being managed. Making expense reports public is a great way to make this happening. Let the power of public inspection do your management work for you!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What do you think a CIO should do if staff discover a problem with a travel expense report?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Congratulations CIO: the world that you are operating in has become a lot more complex lately. What this means for you is that you’re going to have to determine what the new rules are for being successful in this world are and how to maximize the importance of information technology for your company. One area that is going to require a great deal of study on your part is the complex world of social networking: what is permitted and what is going too far?