Pro-Tips Monday: Best Practices Approval Workflow

Jason Mills —  July 2, 2012 — 4 Comments

One frequent question we answer at Expensify HQ is: “Can you help me understand best practices for setting up my company’s approval workflow?” Why yes! We recommend following a simple rule: No one person should submit to themselves – yes even accounting! – and even if your company only has one person responsible for processing reports, it’s always great to have one person focus on correctness and another focus on export to accounting or payroll. Yes it’s that simple!

But let’s put this rule into practice and explain by example. Suppose your company has a three person approval workflow, with several employees that submit to a manager who checks for correctness (and makes sure expenses fall within budget), before final approval by accounting. In this example everyone in the company submits expenses, including accounting. The best practices approval workflow would look like:

Sample Approval Workflow

Approval workflow best practices: Everyone in the company submits to someone else, even if they are a final approver.

And there you have it! To review: every employee in the company submits to someone other than themselves! If you have any questions, please email us at and we’re happy to help.

4 responses to Pro-Tips Monday: Best Practices Approval Workflow


    So what happens to the reports that don’t have a “forward to”?


    Hi Michael – Sorry for the confusion! To hopefully provide more clarity, when you configure the “Submits To” and “Forwards To” fields, you’re telling our system where employees reports will go when they click a button (like Submit or Approve). “Submits To” is relevant for everyone in your organization that submits expenses of their own. So both managers and employees and anyone else will have this configured. In contrast, “Forwards To” is only releavnt for managers or anyone else that is approving Expense reports, as these will receive expense reports from others, and then need to approve and “forward” them on to others. Does this make sense? Please let me know!

    Debbie Backlund August 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Ok, so my company is “trying” expensify. I created reports by month once a credit card had been attached to the CEO’s account. Due to the fact this card had some purchases on it of a personal nature prior to being designated as for corp. use only, I submitted them by typing in his wife’s name/email and clicking on submit, so that she could edit any personal items from the list. At this point, the reports still say “processing” and she has verbally told me to send them in. They are traveling, she won’t be hitting the “approved” button, how do I submit to accounting?


    Hi Debbie! In terms of best practices, someone who is an admin in Expensify will have the ability to “take control” of this expense report. Take Control allows you to continue processing the expense report in cases that a manager is out of town. Do you have admin privileges in Expensify? I’m happy to discuss further at Thanks!

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