Campus Engagement

Community engagement is integral to the success of this project. Through consultation with a broad range of campus stakeholders who have an in-depth understanding of the University's needs, the project team will gather feedback and collect key requirements for this new system. These include feedback and suggestions on:

  • business expense and research-related reimbursement policies and procedures
  • approval workflows
  • taxation
  • security and reporting
  • system configuration and functionality

 
Published September 16, 2021

Focus Topic Survey Survey Results

The SAP Concur Project Team recently released a Focus Topic Survey which collected information to help shape future policies and guidelines for the new expense reimbursement system. The questions were designed by considering results from the first user experience survey as well as the most frequently asked questions related to the expense claim process.

The survey was open from August 6 to 18, 2021 and was emailed to 250 select faculty and staff members. We appreciate all those who completed our Focus Topic Survey.

 

Demographics

The survey was distributed to 115 faculty and 135 staff (total of 250 individuals). These individuals were selected based on the volume of claims submitted in the 2019 calendar year.

A total of 90 responses were received during the two-week survey period, resulting in a 36% overall response rate.

Of these 90 respondents:

  • 73% identified as claimants
  • 70% identified as administrative support in the preparation and review of claims
  • 29% identified as approvers.

Note: Totals exceeded 100% as individuals could identify as more than one role (e.g., a claimant could also identify as an approver, etc.).

The 90 respondents were provided with the choice to answer questions on specific topics based on their role as claimants, preparers, reviewers and approvers. Of this:

  • 87% chose to answer questions on the Travel Policy
  • 74% chose to answer questions on the Hospitality Policy
  • 89% chose to answer questions on the General Policy & Miscellaneous Expenses
  • 40% chose to answer questions on Tri-Council claims
  • 44% chose to answer questions on the Approval and Delegation Process.

 

TRAVEL POLICY

Airfare Upgrades

When asked in which situations they would agree that airfare classes should be upgraded from Economy Basic or Standard fares, respondents prioritized the following as most important (respondents were reminded that the Travel Policy requires claimants to take the most economical means of travel):

Accommodations

When upgrading a hotel room from the standard room, specific justification and/or comparison of prices is required, along with the Dean/Director’s approval. Respondents were asked if they found it difficult to be compliant with this process. Nearly half indicated they have no difficulty being compliant. The majority (57%) indicated that there is an opportunity for clarification on requirements and review regarding when the Dean/Director’s approval should be required.

There are some specific requirements when claiming accommodation and/or meal receipts. When asked to indicate if there is difficulty in being compliant, responses were as follows:

  • 28% find it challenging to separate costs on accommodation receipts (room charge, parking, food, internet, etc.)
  • 23% remove alcohol and proportionate tax/tips
  • 16% find it challenging to provide the breakdown of how per diem is calculated when there are no meal receipts attached
  • 25% have no issue with the current requirements

The remaining 8% of respondents had other difficulties, including:

  • Retaining paper receipts while travelling
  • Needing to complete the missing receipt form for lost/unavailable receipts
  • Overall ambiguity of per diem.

 

HOSPITALITY POLICY

Clarity of Policy

The Hospitality Policy governs hospitality expenses incurred as a result of University-related business, including the provision of food, beverages, alcohol, gifts, and tokens of appreciation.

Respondents were asked if they found the policy clear on the eligibility of items. The majority (73%) felt the policy is clear and their understanding of eligibility is sound. Approximately 27% felt the Hospitality Policy is unclear and/or there are some aspects requiring review.

Suggested topics for review and clarification include:

  • Meals vs. hospitality for individual and group situations
  • Recruitment activities for internal vs. external staff, including alcohol in these situations
  • Alcohol-related expenses incurred with a visitor
  • The requirement to list participants.

Respondents also indicated a lack of clarity related to:

  • When the purchase of alcohol is specifically permitted
  • Why alcohol is not permitted as a gift.

Payment Method

When providing cash or equivalent (gift cards, gift certificates, etc.), the current policy requires supporting documentation. This includes the names of recipients and proof of payment from the claimant. Respondents were asked if there were any difficulties in meeting these requirements. While 28% reported having no difficulties with the requirements, 62% do experience difficulties, including:

  • Feeling uncomfortable requesting proof of receipt from recipients (19%)
  • There is no way to ask the recipient to confirm in writing (17%)
  • There should be a dollar threshold after which written communication is required (26%).

 

GENERAL POLICY & MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES

Expense Type Options

It is evident that many users are dissatisfied with the current drop-down list of expenses in the current Expense Claim System (ECS), with 44% of respondents using many expense types or object codes that are not listed. Respondents also highlighted that they would like to see more non-travel expense types added to the selection.

Timeframe for Submitting Expense Reports

Current policy advises that expenses must be submitted within 12 months of the receipt date. When asked about a reasonable timeframe, 68% indicated that 12 months is sufficient, with 10% preferring a longer timeframe.

Wireless and Internet Bill Reimbursement

Many users also indicated being unclear about what documentation must be provided when claiming wireless (cellular) and internet bills. Respondents indicated that it would be helpful if the University’s policies and guidelines provided more direction related to:

  1. The specific receipt requirements
  2. The percentage allowed to be claimed
  3. The appropriate method for separating bundled services for these expenses.

 

TRI-COUNCIL CLAIMS

Grant Leader’s Responsibility

Thirty-six respondents chose to answer questions related to Tri-Council claims. Respondents were asked if they were aware that it is the grant leader’s responsibility to ensure compliance with claim process and is also accountable for all expenses associated with the claim. Ninety-two percent responded that they were aware, compared with 8% who were not.

Clarity of Tri-Council Requirements

Tri-council claims have more stringent requirements than other types of expense claims. When asked to indicate those requirements with which they find difficulty complying, respondents highlighted the following as most difficult:

  1. Providing verification of compliance to Financial Services who don’t typically have knowledge of grant allowances
  2. Providing sufficient detail about how each item is directly related to their research
  3. One Trip-One Claim requirement (entering previously paid items on the final claim)
  4. No gifts of appreciation to be given to staff, students, volunteers, etc.
  5. No alcohol at meals or to be given as gifts.

We also received general feedback indicating a lack of clarity about specific Tri-council requirements. This may indicate a need for more clear published guidelines.

 

APPROVAL AND DELEGATION

Claim Approvers

Forty respondents answered questions related to the approval and delegation section. When asked if they were aware that claim approvers must be one administrative level higher than the claimant, 98% were aware.

Administrative Support

Respondents were asked if an administrative officer, financial manager or other administrative staff should review and sign claims before submitting them to final approvers (Chair, Dean, Director, etc.) for authorization. Sixty-eight percent agreed with this extra approval step, while 32% indicated that it was unnecessary.

Respondents were asked if an administrative officer, financial manager or other administrative staff should review and sign claims before submitting them to final approvers (Chair, Dean, Director, etc.) for authorization. Sixty-eight percent agreed with this extra approval step, while 32% indicated that it was unnecessary.

Maintenance of Signing Authority List

Each unit should have an understanding of who has signing authority for the different types of expenses. There were varying responses when asked about who in their department maintains this list of claim approvers and active grant holders.  Most departments (68%) rely on administrative staff, administrative officers, or managers to maintain this list, while others (12%) rely on associate directors. Twenty percent of respondents were either unsure, do not believe that anyone is assigned to this responsibility, or indicated other’.

 


 

Feedback from the University community is critical. As a result of the many thoughts and opinions shared via this survey, the project team has gained important insight into opportunities for improvement. These results will be used to guide future focus groups and policy enhancements. 

Thank you very much for participating in this survey. If you have any additional comments or suggestions or did not have the opportunity to participate, please forward your feedback to concurproject@uoguelph.ca. We would be happy to hear from you!

 

 

 


Published April 5, 2021

Expense Claim System User Experience Survey Results

Thank you to all participants who completed our Expense Claim System User Experience Survey. Your input is essential in helping us shape the new system.

The survey was released on February 11 by direct email to select faculty and staff members to better understand user experience with the current Expense Claim System (ECS).  On February 17, Campus News published a story informing the University community of the upcoming replacement of the ECS to SAP Concur and linking to the survey.

 

Demographics

A total of 272 responses were received during the two-week survey response period.

Of these:

  • 86% identified as claimants
  • 34% identified as administrative support in the preparation and review of claims
  • 22% identified as approvers.

Note: Totals exceeded 100% as individuals could identify as more than one role (e.g., a claimant could also identify as an approver).

 

Expense Claim Process

It is evident that there is dissatisfaction with the current process. When asked their level of agreement with the statement, “I am satisfied with the current travel and expense claim process,” 61% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with this statement, with 21% being neutral and only 18% generally satisfied overall.

When asked about the most challenging aspects of the expense claim process, respondents identified struggling with the following five issues:

  1. Organizing/copying receipts for retention
  2. User-friendliness of the system
  3. Providing adequate supporting information, explanations, and/or documentation
  4. Providing adequate proof of payment
  5. Foreign currency conversion
 

When asked about the approval process, 42% of respondents were satisfied with the current approval process, 49% were dissatisfied and 9% had no opinion.

Payment Services hopes to enhance the user experience. Respondents were asked to identify the improvements they would most like to see in the expense claim process and classified these three as most important:

  1. Simpler/more intuitive interface
  2. Ability to easily add receipts
  3. Reduction of paper processing of claims

 

Policies

Respondents were asked how they felt about the expense claim policies relating to travel, business and hospitality expenses.  There was consensus by the majority of respondents that the policies should be updated more frequently to account for the evolving landscape. Many respondents also agreed that they would like to see a more detailed policy with clearer guidelines and procedures.

Note: participants were able to select multiple options. As such, percentages do not total 100%


Areas of the policies in need of an update were rated by respondents.  They were identified by priority, highest to lowest:

  1. Guidelines about internet/wireless bill, wearable technology, home equipment and other equipment
  2. Hospitality guidelines
  3. Eligible/ineligible expenses
  4. Meals/per diem
  5. Air/ground transportation
  6. Accommodation options
  7. Insurance coverage

 


 

The results of this survey, taken together with the additional stakeholder engagements throughout this project, will be very valuable in guiding future decisions about the new system and prioritizing process improvements. Respondents have clearly reported that the expense claim process via the current system is time-consuming and cumbersome, requiring considerable effort to effectively submit a claim that includes the correct coding and expense categories, etc. The goal of this project is to design a modern, intuitive, and simple system that meets user needs while simultaneously maintaining internal controls and audit requirements.

This critical stakeholder feedback will also inform suggestions for policy improvements that will be intuitive, save time and improve the user experience. 

Thank you very much for participating in this survey. If you have any additional comments or suggestions or did not have the opportunity to participate, please forward your feedback to concurproject@uoguelph.ca. We would be happy to hear from you!