Electronic reimbursements

Discuss questions around local unit policies for budgeting, reconciling, etc. This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
chriswoodut
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Location: Utah

Re: Electronic reimbursements

Postby chriswoodut » Sat Mar 30, 2019 4:21 pm

I'm also trying to mentally process how this changes the stake audits of our ward. Anyone know? It seems like I will have less papers for them to look at.

davesudweeks
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Location: Oklahoma, USA

Re: Electronic reimbursements

Postby davesudweeks » Sat Mar 30, 2019 4:56 pm

chriswoodut wrote:I'll take what I can get and figure out a way to digitize the receipts. Our clerks office only has a b&w lazer printer with no scanner so Office Lens sounds like a useful tool if I can transfer from my phone to the PC in an easy way.

After a youth activity last Wednesday, I showed the YM President how to set up his account for ACH reimbursement. He then took a pic of his receipt for the treats and texted it to the bishop. The bishop forwarded it to me in an email and "approved" the expense. Later that evening, I saved the receipt and the bishop's email (probably not technically required) and uploaded both documents to LDS.org when I set up his reimbursement from home. One was a .jpg file and the other was a .pdf document. A little later, the 1st counselor in the bishopric approved the reimbursement from home and the bishop approved it online the next day from work. The entire process happened without anyone having to go up to the church.

For now (as we get more comfortable with the new process), we are planning to stay with paper if the receipts are provided in paper. We will do all electronic if the receipts are provided electronic - it will be up to the member to provide them electronic if they want it that way unless they are set up for ACH reimbursement and then we will scan the receipt (the library copier has scan capability to a thumb drive so we can sneaker-net it to the clerk computer).

Also, keep in mind that you still must use paper checks for reimbursements to anyone not in your ward/branch (welfare, etc). I could be wrong, but that seems easier in MLS since it lets the clerk prepare everything by himself and then a counselor can be the 2nd review/signature when convenient instead of having to sit at the computer as the clerk enters each expense.

chriswoodut
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Posts: 187
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:42 am
Location: Utah

Re: Electronic reimbursements

Postby chriswoodut » Sat Mar 30, 2019 6:45 pm

davesudweeks wrote:
chriswoodut wrote:I'll take what I can get and figure out a way to digitize the receipts. Our clerks office only has a b&w lazer printer with no scanner so Office Lens sounds like a useful tool if I can transfer from my phone to the PC in an easy way.

After a youth activity last Wednesday, I showed the YM President how to set up his account for ACH reimbursement. He then took a pic of his receipt for the treats and texted it to the bishop. The bishop forwarded it to me in an email and "approved" the expense. Later that evening, I saved the receipt and the bishop's email (probably not technically required) and uploaded both documents to LDS.org when I set up his reimbursement from home. One was a .jpg file and the other was a .pdf document. A little later, the 1st counselor in the bishopric approved the reimbursement from home and the bishop approved it online the next day from work. The entire process happened without anyone having to go up to the church.

For now (as we get more comfortable with the new process), we are planning to stay with paper if the receipts are provided in paper. We will do all electronic if the receipts are provided electronic - it will be up to the member to provide them electronic if they want it that way unless they are set up for ACH reimbursement and then we will scan the receipt (the library copier has scan capability to a thumb drive so we can sneaker-net it to the clerk computer).

Also, keep in mind that you still must use paper checks for reimbursements to anyone not in your ward/branch (welfare, etc). I could be wrong, but that seems easier in MLS since it lets the clerk prepare everything by himself and then a counselor can be the 2nd review/signature when convenient instead of having to sit at the computer as the clerk enters each expense.


Why not go entirely electronic even if they provide things in paper form? You can scan it and enter it as the expense and then have no paper to track, even if you print a check (there's an assumption here that no paperwork gets printed out other than the check itself). I'm guessing that really speeds up the audit as they can do those audit steps without even being in the building.

This is new to me. I'm considering using a Google Form that people can upload the image to and provide details about the reimbursement itself. I realize our current paper method is doing a few extra things that aren't actually required by the docs. (Google forms does everything needed but has a requirement that people use a google login to do it. That makes it a no-go.)

eblood66
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Location: Cumming, GA, USA

Re: Electronic reimbursements

Postby eblood66 » Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:03 pm

davesudweeks wrote:Also, keep in mind that you still must use paper checks for reimbursements to anyone not in your ward/branch (welfare, etc). I could be wrong, but that seems easier in MLS since it lets the clerk prepare everything by himself and then a counselor can be the 2nd review/signature when convenient instead of having to sit at the computer as the clerk enters each expense.

If you use paper receipts you can print from LCR pretty much the same way as from MLS (i.e., enter expenses, print checks, have 2 people sign the checks, bishop does his approval online later). You only have to have the 2nd approver available before you print if you use electronic documentation (in that case it's enter expenses and upload documentation, 2nd approver must approve checks, print checks, have 2 people sign checks, bishop does his approval later).

chriswoodut
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Posts: 187
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:42 am
Location: Utah

Re: Electronic reimbursements

Postby chriswoodut » Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:09 pm

eblood66 wrote:
davesudweeks wrote:Also, keep in mind that you still must use paper checks for reimbursements to anyone not in your ward/branch (welfare, etc). I could be wrong, but that seems easier in MLS since it lets the clerk prepare everything by himself and then a counselor can be the 2nd review/signature when convenient instead of having to sit at the computer as the clerk enters each expense.

If you use paper receipts you can print from LCR pretty much the same way as from MLS (i.e., enter expenses, print checks, have 2 people sign the checks, bishop does his approval online later). You only have to have the 2nd approver available before you print if you use electronic documentation (in that case it's enter expenses and upload documentation, 2nd approver must approve checks, print checks, have 2 people sign checks, bishop does his approval later).


I thought the policy is that the Bishop must approve all expenses before the checks are written. Is this new process changing the order of the steps such that the bishop approval online can happen after a clerk/counselor have already processed it?

eblood66
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Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:17 am
Location: Cumming, GA, USA

Re: Electronic reimbursements

Postby eblood66 » Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:11 pm

chriswoodut wrote:Why not go entirely electronic even if they provide things in paper form? You can scan it and enter it as the expense and then have no paper to track, even if you print a check (there's an assumption here that no paperwork gets printed out other than the check itself).

The biggest problem is that in that case you have to have the 2nd approver approve the expenses online before you can print the checks. So the clerk can't just prepare and print the checks by himself in one session. He either needs another bishopric member available right after entering the checks or has to come back later to print checks after the approval as been made. Policy says that checks must be printed on the clerk computer. If you use paper receipts then you can just enter the checks and print them immediately.

chriswoodut wrote:I'm guessing that really speeds up the audit as they can do those audit steps without even being in the building.

Maybe that's possible but it certainly didn't happen for my last audit. The auditor didn't look at the documentation until we were together. There were also some technical issues with the audit tool where images were reduced in size with no way we could find to zoom. We had one receipt he couldn't read so I pulled out the paper. I could have probably logged into LCR myself instead to view it full size but the paper was faster. Hopefully those kinks will be worked out in future audit tool updates.

Overall my audit wasn't really any faster than it has been in the past.

eblood66
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Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:17 am
Location: Cumming, GA, USA

Re: Electronic reimbursements

Postby eblood66 » Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:19 pm

chriswoodut wrote:I thought the policy is that the Bishop must approve all expenses before the checks are written. Is this new process changing the order of the steps such that the bishop approval online can happen after a clerk/counselor have already processed it?

The policy is and has been that the Bishop must approve all checks before the expense is incurred. However, it's always been OK for that approval to be verbal with a signature added later. The online approval can't happen until the clerk has entered the expense. At that point bishop can click his approval but he doesn't have to do it before the check is printed. But it's still the clerks and check signers responsibility to ensure that the bishop has given verbal approval and the auditor will still ask if that was always the case.

davesudweeks
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Location: Oklahoma, USA

Re: Electronic reimbursements

Postby davesudweeks » Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:20 pm

chriswoodut wrote:Why not go entirely electronic even if they provide things in paper form? You can scan it and enter it as the expense and then have no paper to track, even if you print a check (there's an assumption here that no paperwork gets printed out other than the check itself). I'm guessing that really speeds up the audit as they can do those audit steps without even being in the building.

This is new to me. I'm considering using a Google Form that people can upload the image to and provide details about the reimbursement itself. I realize our current paper method is doing a few extra things that aren't actually required by the docs. (Google forms does everything needed but has a requirement that people use a google login to do it. That makes it a no-go.)


I don't own a smart phone and my experimentation with a .pdf scanner on my wifi tablet has been underwhelming (the resulting image is too poor quality to be legible). A reimbursement form is not required - only the bishop's approval and enough information to know who the reimbursement goes to, what the expense was for, and the budget line it comes from. We will be abandoning forms altogether for reimbursement requests that are sent digital.

The biggest problem I have with going digital on the front end and then printing a paper check is it adds workload and delay to the process. With MLS, the clerk can prepare everything (working alone in the clerk's office) and have it all ready for the second signature that can occur quickly when a counselor is available for a few minutes to review the expenses and sign the checks. To print a paper check via LCR, two individuals must sit together in the clerks office while the expenses are entered. If another member of the bishopric is not standing by while the expenses are entered, the clerk will not be able to complete the task of printing a paper check.

In reading other forum posts, there have been problems with the online portion of the financial audit that required the paper copies so I'm not ready to shred all the paper just yet. We don't have paper problems during the audit, at least not nearly as much as digital problems and server workload that prevent the auditor from completing their tasks.

Perhaps I'm being overly cautious. We have had no stake training on this process and are trying to figure it all out on our own. Yes, there are minimal instructions in the help center, but they don't come anywhere close to answering my questions on how this is supposed to work.

chriswoodut
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Posts: 187
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:42 am
Location: Utah

Re: Electronic reimbursements

Postby chriswoodut » Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:32 pm

eblood66 wrote:
chriswoodut wrote:I thought the policy is that the Bishop must approve all expenses before the checks are written. Is this new process changing the order of the steps such that the bishop approval online can happen after a clerk/counselor have already processed it?

The policy is and has been that the Bishop must approve all checks before the expense is incurred. However, it's always been OK for that approval to be verbal with a signature added later. The online approval can't happen until the clerk has entered the expense. At that point bishop can click his approval but he doesn't have to do it before the check is printed. But it's still the clerks and check signers responsibility to ensure that the bishop has given verbal approval and the auditor will still ask if that was always the case.


For me, trying to chase down if a verbal approval happened so I can write a check is harder than just having the bishop approve all expenses before I write a check. I just sit down with him for 5 minutes and he approves them all at one time.

I know of bishops approving a budget and allowing their organizations to manage their budgets and not every single expense is verbally approved in advance. But, they are all approved before a check is written.

chriswoodut
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Posts: 187
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:42 am
Location: Utah

Re: Electronic reimbursements

Postby chriswoodut » Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:39 pm

I think I lost one of my responses, here's a rehash.

We already have 2 clerks check every reimbursement request for math. Then the bishop approves it. Then a check is written. We're used to gaps in the process. Taking paper submitted requests and digitizing them and pushing them through the same process that the ACH requests will be going through doesn't seem like much of a change for us. Also, we have like 85% of our ward doing online donations so ACH is going to be used by the majority of people. I anticipate so few checks that even a two step gap is very little of my time. I'd rather have no paper receipts to store and take a little more time on paper checks.


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