P-Card Accounting On the Fly (or in Vietnam)

Institutional credit cards, or purchase cards (‘p-cards’ for short), are quickly becoming part of the routine work habits of some faculty and many staff in higher education. Although the adoption of the p-card has obvious benefits to an institution, it can also create more work for more people, resulting in a net uptick in time allocated to accounting-related matters.  In an effort to reduce some of this work, most of which is attendant to digital processes, I have advocated for the use of mobile scanning apps that convert images to PDF and then archive files in the cloud.  

CamScanner is still my go-to, timesaving app for these basic tasks. At the point of purchase, I capture and upload an image of my receipt to a folder that can be easily accessed when I later reconcile expenses online. This approach saves me considerable time at the departmental copy machine, sorting email attachments, etc., but also is solid insurance against losing that precious receipt.

Google Drive screenshotHere, I offer an addendum to this strategy that may be useful to colleagues whose p-card expenses must be reconciled with more than one pot of money and/or who work closely with someone else who does much of the actual reconciling. For example, the Director of the Office of Study Away first approves my p-card expenses relating to SATA Vietnam. Given the SATA travel schedule as well as the exigencies of working in a lean country, she is skeptical (for good reason) of my ability to meet accounting cycle deadlines.  As such, she is managing the online reconciliation process. My job? Send the receipts.

Uber receiptCapitalizing on CamScanner’s agility at uploading PDF images to the cloud, I now direct all of my receipts to a shared folder on Google Drive.  In this folder, I created a dozen or so subfolders, each of which is labeled to reflect a two-week accounting period at Connecticut College. Digitized receipts are directed to the appropriate folder and easily accessed at the convenience of the Office of Study Away.

Overall, this innovation in workflow has saved us much time, time otherwise spent with redundant digital processes, such as uploading, sending, downloading, and re-saving attachments via email. This is especially so in recent weeks when I adopted Uber as a cost-saving mode of transportation in Ha Noi. SATA-related Uber rides are charged to my p-card, and the digital receipts – perhaps as many as 8-10 a week – are directed to the shared Google Drive folder.

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