In many of these cases, the situation is continuing to unfold, and it is therefore impossible to know if the parties that have been accused are actually guilty of malfeasance.
However, it is undeniable that someone who is accused of such impropriety has problems that go beyond the legal consequences of their expected activities. Even if the accused parties are found to be completely innocent, much of the damage is already done.
How can this be the case? Of course, there is the “court of public opinion” that will create a public relations firestorm around anything that looks like the dishonest use of public funds. However, there is also another factor.
Whenever someone is accused of wrongdoing and cannot seem to mount a spirited defence, they will likely appear to be in the wrong. In the case of financial impropriety, something as simple as a database of expense reports could have cleared up the situation.
Paper-Based Expense Reports Invite Trouble For Large North American Enterprises
In Canada and elsewhere, regulatory expectations demand that all financial documentation will be available for auditing and inspection. That being the case, anyone who uses a spreadsheet program for expense reports is playing roulette with regulators.
Many financial professionals have made a big impact on their enterprises by developing a low-cost, perhaps free, way of using and updating spreadsheets for this purpose. However, doing so exposes the business to a number of issues:
1) Only The Originator “Knows It All” About The System
When spreadsheets are used for sensitive financial information, only the person who came up with the idea in the first place is the real “master” of the system. If he or she should happen to leave, then the team will have to be retrained in a different method.
2) Impropriety And Mistakes Can Be Concealed More Easily
While most claims of impropriety turn out to be false, human error is a much larger problem. A simple calculation mistake in a spreadsheet can ripple through the entire document. This may cause critical reports, such as shareholder reports, to be inaccurate.
3) The Practices Are Not Scalable Or Global
Global, scalable processes with adequate security are necessary when your business expands abroad, and especially when members of your enterprise start to travel regularly on business. It is impossible to “scale up” a spreadsheet beyond very basic use.
With all these things in mind, it is a good idea to “turn in” the old-fashioned spreadsheets and transition toward a sophisticated solution for expense reports as soon as possible.