This page explains how to configure Projector's expense approval and then how to approve your expenses. Each organization's expense approval process will be different depending on your business needs. So carefully analyze each of the options and determine which method works best for your business.
How Expense Approval Works
Before we get into actual configuration options, let's do a quick overview of how expenses are configured in Projector and how approval works.
Expenses are grouped together on things called Expense Documents. Different types of expense documents fulfill different purposes and we won't get into them here. Typically you'll have multiple expenses on a single document. These expenses are all treated as individuals, despite the fact that they are all on the same document. That means you can have one expense approved and included on an invoice while another has been rejected for corrections.
Each expense must go through three separate approvals. They are
- Workflow Approval - initial approval of the expense. Once initially approved, it is eligible for the next two approval types, payment/reimbursement and include on invoice
- Payment/Reimbursement Approval - this expense can be paid or reimbursed
- Include on Invoice Approval - this expense can be included on an invoice and passed on to a client
The workflow approval stage is necessary before the next two approvals can take place. Those approvals can happen independent of one another. Take a look at the visualization below. See how after initial approval you can approve for either invoicing or payment?
Projector supports this model because in some business cases you may wish to invoice a client despite the fact that you have not issued final approval for payment/reimbursement.
Configure Expense Approval
There is one very simple rule that applies to all expenses in Projector. You cannot approve your own expenses. You cannot trick the system by trying to approve them using administrator permissions. You cannot create a proxy user for someone else and approve them. You cannot do it.
Now in terms of our three levels of approval, let's tackle the two easy ones first. Then we'll tackle the workflow approval scenario.
Users with the cost center permission Administer Expense Document Payment Workflow can approve for payment/reimbursement. Before they can make the approval, they will need to ensure it has workflow approval finished.
Once an expense report is completely approved to pay, you can no longer add new cost cards.
Include on Invoice Approval
A user submits an expense report for approval. An approver can then accept or reject some or all of the expenses.
The cost card has been entered by the user has not been submitted for approval
The cost card has been submitted for approval by the user
The cost card has been rejected by an approver
The cost card has been approved by an approver and can continue on to the payment and invoicing workflows
Who are my expense report approvers?
Expense approvers are selected on the project info tab of a project.
The project's acting PM team
Includes the engagement manager, the project manager, and those with project permission "Can Act as PM"
Only the engagement manager
Only the project manager (not "Can Act as PM" resources)
Project manager for team, engagement manager for PM
The project manager can approve expenses for team members while the engagement manager must approve expenses for the project manager
Choosing this option will open the Find Approver form, allowing you to choose a specific user to be the expense approver for this project.
Can Act As PM*
Resources with the "Can Act as PM" project permission will be included in the drop down list. For example Steve Chong and Larry Krakauer in the above image. This is just a handy shortcut.
If the permissions system you have setup results in an individual approving their own expenses then Projector will attempt to use their resource-based approver. If this option is not set then it will not be possible to approve the expenses. You will need to set a resource based approver for this individual or change your permissions structure.
Approval of Repayment
Some installations prefer to have a cost card automatically marked Approved for reimbursement as soon as it is accepted in the first workflow. This removes a step. To enable this, tick the checkbox for Automatically approve expense reports for payment and invoicing on the System Settings Editor Cost Tab. This setting also has an effect on the next section of this page, so read up there also.
A cost card will typically stop at every step in the above screenshot. The table below explains each step and what it means.
The default status for all approved expenses
The expense has been reviewed and approved for reimbursement. A cost card may end up at this step automatically due to your system settings (discussed above).
The expense has been transmitted to your AP system. This status is typically set automatically when you transmit to your accounting package via our built-in integrations, like QB or GP. Only cost cards that are Approved get moved forward to Transmitted. If the cost card is already in a later state like Paid or Received, it is not moved backwards in the approval process to Transmitted by an integration.
You might have a reason to set this manually if you have entered the transaction in your accounting system manually. When set manually you will be prompted to enter a Voucher Number. This can be any number, but it makes sense to choose a number that correlates to your accounting system.
The Accounts Payable department has issued the reimbursement. This is a manual step. Projector has no knowledge of when your AP department actually sent out reimbursement. When you mark something paid you will see a pop-up box where you can type a message. This message is only viewable by management portal users.
Once a cost card is marked Approved to Pay, Transmitted or Paid your resources have the choice of marking it received by going to their list of expense reports and ticking the aptly named Received checkbox. Administrators can also move expenses into the Received state, but usually don't. It is typically maintained by the resource and allows them to keep track of their expense reimbursements.
If a resource unticks the Received checkbox, it moves backwards to the Paid status, even if it was previously set to Approved to Pay or Transmitted.
If a resource is curious when the payment was set to paid, they can hover over the received checkbox with their mouse (see screenshot).
Approval for Invoicing
The invoicing workflow deals with invoicing a client. This workflow cannot begin until cost cards have been approved. Users with the "Administer Expense Document Invoicing Workflow" can modify these statuses. If the system wide setting "Automatically approve expense reports for payment and Invoicing" is enabled then all cost cards will automatically be approved for payment and approved for invoicing after their initial approval.
You can visit our Invoicing How To to learn more about the invoicing workflow
The default status for all approved expenses
Approved and the expense can now be included on an invoice
The expenses have been added to a draft invoice
The expenses have been included on an invoice
The expenses have been set to nonbillable
The following accounts are hit in a typical approval process of cost cards. This can be more complicated depending on write ups and write downs, TCAF, and other special cases.
|Cost Card Approved||Cost Card Approved to Pay||Cost Card Invoiced|
|->||Cost WIP (credit)|
|Cost WIP (debit)|
|->||Operating Expense (debit)|
|AP Clearing (debit)|
|AP Clearing (credit)|