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Simple, effective, customizable payroll, leave and expense management for SMEs

Expense Totals Report

Time to find out who's that big spender.

by Usamah Jamaludin

Chill - we're cool guys. HRM is not really for employee policing, but sometimes yeah the HR job description in some ways does cover that. But there's a lot more you can do with our latest Expense Totals Report - such as visually understanding expense trends over any given year. Because everything's seasonal and not all expenses are incurred equally. Read on.

Accessing Expense Totals Report

To access the Expense Totals Report, hover across your profile name on the top right and click on it. You should be able to see a 'Reports' section, which then expands to reveal 'Expense Totals Report'.

Navigate to Expense Totals Report

In short it's

Profile > Reports > Expense Totals Report.

Expense Totals Report is the latest addition to our reporting suite, which we recently released in June 2018. In that release, we showcased the very first report - Leave Balances Report, for which you can also read about its details here.

There will be even more reports to come in the future (hint: Payroll-related).

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Standard reporting features

Before we jump deeper into Expense Totals Report - we'd like to refresh for those who have yet to see any previous report with the following standard reporting features:

  • Available to all employees
    • By default any employee - normal employees, managers and admins can have access to the same reports
  • Data visibility governed by scopes
    • Reports will only show data that can be viewed according to the employee's role / scope
    • A normal employee can only see own data
    • A manager can see own data plus those of subordinates'
    • An admin can see everything!
  • Data download
    • Reports have filters which can be used to query data further
    • The charts are rendered based on the filtered data. Most of them are readily downloadable as image files (PNG)
    • The filtered data is also rendered in a table at the end of the report, and can be downloaded as an Excel sheet for further processing / analysis
  • Data refresh
    • Reporting data is always refreshed automatically whenever there's relevant changes
    • For example, Leave Balances get updated with new Leave Applications, similarly Expense Totals get updated with new Expense Reports
    • However, an admin can also force a refresh of data anytime, to ensure the very latest data for accurate reporting

Scopes

Example of reporting data visibility / scoping

Expense Totals download

Example of reporting data download

Expense Totals refresh

Example of reporting data refresh

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What's an Expense Total?

Well yeah, we're into the habit of making things up as we go. Honestly it's a term that we came up with, but with some genuine thoughts behind it.

An Expense Total is basically

  • The sum of expense(s)
  • For a particular expense type (e.g Accommodation)
  • Filed by an employee
  • Within a certain month

In fact this is exactly the columns you'd see in the tabular data format below the filters and charts for Expense Totals Report.

Expense Totals table

You can think of it as the expense-type specific amount claimed by an employee for a given month. But why?

  • A month is a sweet duration whereby we can sum up expense amount(s) for meaningful comparison. A quarter may be too long, a week is too short.
  • Categorizing the amount by expense type allows us to filter for that specific expense type and observe its trend over the year, as well as consumption breakdown across departments. It's harder to make sense of the trend of Expense Reports' total amount, since an Expense Report can be made up of several, different expense types

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For most employees, looking at Expense Totals Report means analyzing your own Expense Reports. Probably doesn't sound like much fun - you'd think you'd pretty know all about your expense claims, but we'd disagree.

By default, if you view the report, you would see something like the following:

Expense Totals breakdown and trends

The breakdown is by expense types, and is illustrated clearly using a pie chart. Looking at a list of your Expense Reports over the year alone - it may not jump out to you that 1/3 of your claims are actually for Transportation, for example - but with this breakdown chart you can see clearly the distribution.

By default the values are in percentages, but hovering across a pie slice will also reveal the monetary value.

Breakdown details

On the other hand, the trends from different expense types are illustrated using a line chart, plotting the ups and downs in terms of monetary values over the months of a year. This chart allows you to quickly eyeball, for example, when exactly did you make that 'Optical / Dental' claim - which is usually at the end of the year because that when the yearly benefits expire!

Similar to the pie chart, you can hover to a point on the line to figure out the exact monetary value.

Trends details

Finally, another note for the trends - if you have data for Expense Reports going back multiple years, and you did not select any specific year from the existing 'Year' filter - the monetary value for a month is summed across multiple years. For example, if we spend $10000 on Transportation in June 2017 and $5000 on Transporation in June 2018, the data point for Transportation across the years for the month of June would be $15000.

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Comparing department expenses

If you're a manager - managing multiple departments, or you're the admin, then you can do even more with Expense Totals Report. As mentioned earlier, managers and admins get to see more data compared to normal employees, who can only see their own.

These data may straddle across departments, allowing you to view two more additional charts specifically comparing department expenses. To have this view, you simply need to change the scope to more than just viewing your own documents. This allows you to then also select a particular department to drilldown, or just show data across all departments.

Department selection

So what will you get? By viewing your own data alone, you will get:

  • Breakdown by expense types
  • Trend of expense types over months

By looking at cross-department data, you will additionally get:

  • Breakdown by departments
  • Monthly employee expense average by departments

Here's all four of them in their full glory.

All expense charts

The breakdown by departments is quite straightforward. It basically breaks down expenses filed by departments into pie chart slices / percentages. As per any pie chart, hovering over a slice reveals the monetary value. In some ways, this sheds some light on who's the big spender, department-wise.

Breakdown by departments

However department-wise is a bit misleading. In the example above, Human Resources has the biggest chunk of the pie by spending $10503. But what if Human Resources department has way more employees compared to other departments. In this case such large expense amount attributed to Human Resources department may be justified after all, because there's simply more Expense Reports submitted.

Another way to shed light on the identity / location of the big spender is to look at the monthly average amount for expense types / expense reports submitted in each department. That's where the next chart comes into the picture - Monthly expense average by departments.

Monthly employee expense average

In layman terms, it shows on average how much would an employee within a department submit expense claims for each month.

Note that the monthly employee average is calculated by averaging all the non-zero Expense Totals. We do not average the Expense Totals with zero amounts (e.g employees who didn't submit any Expense Report in March) since they will unnecessarily dilute the final number.

One may argue that we could do the same querying by just looking at the existing list of Expense Reports, as per the following image, which can also be sorted by the Expense Report amount, and filtered by department, if needed.

Expense Reports list

Well, not quite. For starters, the listing of Expense Reports will not tell you right away what are the expense types claimed by each of the report. Furthermore, it's hard to make out trends.

With the Expense Totals Report, you get this pretty easily. Suppose that you want to figure out who have been expensing out of everyone's favorite expense type - 'Entertainment'. All you need to do is to filter by that expense type and let Expense Totals Report tell you the story.

First off, you get to know when exactly the spend was made for 'Entertainment' expense type.

Entertainment trend

And you get to know what departments and individuals are involved in making that spend.

Entertainment departmental comparison

As per the above, you'll know:

  • From the departmental breakdown, you'll identify what departments are involved in that 'Entertainment' spend, and how much have been spent by each department
  • From the monthly average, you'll know how on average much each employee spends per month on 'Entertainment'
  • Finally, from the listing of Expense Totals, you'll know who exactly made that spend!

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Expense Total drilldown

As per the previous section - Comparing department expenses - we see how easy it is to figure out departmentally and even individually - as to who are the biggest spenders.

Here, it gets even better. Suppose you've narrowed down the Expense Totals that you're investigating to a select few. If we recollect from the preceding section - What's an Expense Total? - this means you've narrowed down the details of:

  • The employee making the claims for the expense type
  • The month for which the claims are submitted
  • The employee's department
  • The employee's claim amount, summed up to the month

Narrowed down expense totals

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to inspect the related Expense Reports which contributed to these Expense Totals? It will allow you to analyze the actual start and end dates for these claims, the purpose of the expenses (the Expense Report name and comments), and also what other expense types incurred in the same reports.

That's exactly what you get by clicking on any of the Expense Totals on the list! Here's an example when we click on one of the listed Expense Totals.

Expense total drilldown

You will basically get a listing of Expense Reports which have contributed to the monthly, expense-type specific amount. Clicking on any of the row(s) will open up a new window showing that specific Expense Report, and all of its Expense Items.

Expense Reports details

Well, we suppose the Expense Items above are probably 'justified' after all - hey someone's gotta keep those military folks happy, and who else would it be if not the CEO himself? Ah that's the life... Mmm hhmmm...


Sign up for a free account on Kitikiti HRM!

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No credit card required for signup, and no annoying demo appointment to be set. You get to use it immediately upon signup.

Try out Kitikiti HRM at your own pace - and you can always contact us via the support chat widget.

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Leave carry over

Keep rollin' rollin' rollin'...

by Usamah Jamaludin

Free HRM software subscription for the whole of 2019!

Yup, Santa is back!

by Usamah Jamaludin