I work for an R&D company where we require our engineers go through purchasing instead of using credit cards for things like books or membership services. They complain that this process takes too long. How do other companies handle non-travel expenses?

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While we do not have specific benchmark data on this, yes, some organizations do handle such purchases through expense reporting and reimbursement. The other way many companies handle these kinds of purchases is via a P-card.

The key in either case, of course, is to have in place policies and procedures providing reasonable controls on P-card use for expense reimbursements. These include appropriate manager review and sign-off of expenditures.

Additional considerations: Both non-PO miscellaneous purchases and T&E can be made on the same credit card but can be expensed differently. Travel and entertainment should be expensed through T&E. Policy and procedures should be written specially for T&E and in compliance with T&E IRS regulations. Have a separate policy for purchasing items for business that includes what commodities must go through purchasing and what can be purchased on a P-card.

One way to determine what should be handled by purchasing is to ask, "Can purchasing effect the purchase by negotiating best price, quality or delivery?" If not, these are categories that should be ordered and paid via a purchasing card.

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