Bulletin: March Enhancements – Expense Requests System (Posted March 5, 2019)

In an ongoing effort to improve support to campus users as they provide excellent financial management for the institution, Financial Management Services (FMS) has released a package of enhancements to the Expense Request System (ERS) on March 4, 2019.

As shared in the Client Satisfaction Survey Feedback and Action Plans article, FMS has undertaken a key initiative to update the Business Expense Policy and associated processes, tools and resources. The goal of this project is to provide clearer information and reduce the administrative burden around business and travel expenses. This will come in the form of updated guidelines, training and content, a simplified Administrative Guide section focused on guiding principles, and enhancements to the Expense Requests System.

The following is the first release of enhancements, with another wave planned for spring. FMS is working closely with the Deans' offices to provide ongoing updates about the project, gather feedback and create support resources to help campus navigate the changes.

If you have any questions about these enhancements, or require support, please submit a Support Request to the Financial Support Center.

Enhancements:

  1. Paperless Student Certification
  2. New Required Meal Types and Optional Business Meal Categories
  3. New Travel Booking Method Choices
  4. Change to Default in Car Rental and Lodging Number of Days Fields

 

Enhancement 1: Paperless Student Certification

Previously, to process a non-taxable reimbursement for student expenses incurred while traveling or conducting business on behalf of the university, the expense reimbursement required a Student Certificate for Authorized Expenses form to be attached to the Expense Report in ERS.

Now, that form is completed directly within the system on the General Information page of the expense report when being entered for the student payee in ERS. Simply fill out the Student Certification in ERS when entering the expense report for the student payee and enter the authorizing faculty member name. This should save preparers and faculty valuable time while still complying with tax accounting laws.

The old form and actual faculty signature are no longer required but will still be available for those departments and units that require it for internal processes. Learn more about Student Travel.

Below is a screenshot of the new paperless Student Certification:

screen shot of the student certification section in Expense Requests system

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Enhancement 2: New Required Meal Types and Optional Business Meal Categories

New Business Meal Types and Categories have been added in the Details section that will allow for more description on how university funds are used, better reporting and clearer guidance on maximum limits. This should reduce the number of rejections and speed up processing of reimbursements. This enhancement will also allow for specific maximum amounts to be programmed into ERS along with customized guidance and notifications to be rolled out at a later date.

This additional detail will require Business Meal hosts to provide info to Preparers and it will continue to be important to include a business purpose that describes how the business meal is connected to the university's mission.

A few reminders about Business Meals:

  • Only Business Meal receipts costing greater than $75 must be attached to the Reimbursement Request in ERS.
  • Schools and units may have more restrictive policies and procedures.
  • More information on Business Meals can be found in the Meals section.

New Required Meal Types

New drop down choices, including Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner were added as a required selection. In the case where the business meal doesn’t fit perfectly into one of these categories, the preparer should select the choice that best fits, and use the Remarks field to further detail the type of business meal that occurred.

New Optional Business Meal Categories

These new optional categories will allow the preparer to specifically select common business meal categories from the drop-down menu. This will allow for smoother processing and reporting.

Meal Category Definition
Donor Event An event with the specific purpose of discussing existing and future gifts with a current or prospective donor.
Employee Morale An event with the specific purpose of gathering colleagues together for team building activities.
Faculty Recruit A meal with a potential faculty member where employment with the university is discussed.
Invited Speaker A meal with an invited speaker, hosted by their campus sponsor, and may include six or more attendees.
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Enhancement 3: New Travel Booking Method Choices

To coincide with the launch of new programs and services offered by Stanford Travel, ERS has been updated to align options listed in the Travel Booking Method field to appropriate sources. For example, with the launch of United Corporate Direct as a supported option for Stanford travelers, users may now select "Stanford Travel – United Corporate Direct" from the booking method option to indicate if it was used to purchase all or most of the airfare within the expense reimbursement.

Learn more about all of the programs and services Stanford Travel has to offer.

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Enhancement 4: Change to Default in Car Rental and Lodging Number of Days Fields

Previously, the ERS Number of Days field for Rental Car and Lodging defaulted to "1." Many expense requests were submitted without the user updating the number of days in these fields, which would result in a car rental or lodging expense to appear very costly for one day. If this was not corrected before submission, it would be returned by the Business Expense team and result in delays in processing time.

Now, the field for lodging has been retitled to "Number of Nights" for clarity. Both Car Rental and Lodging fields are blank instead of having a default of "1." As a required field, this will mean an entry of the correct number, and will reduce confusion and the need for the submission to be returned before processing.

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