Rogish Reading Writing

Companies, people, products.

Expense Reports Are Bullshit

Or: Every Developer gets an Amex

How often does this happen where you work:

  1. Developer begs, pleads with boss to go to technical conference
  2. Boss negotiates with developer on getting a cheaper hotel. (It’s only $69 a night! Clean sheets optional. 30 minute bus ride from conference. What a steal!)
  3. Boss orders developer to get cheaper, three stop flight instead of more expensive non-stop
  4. Developer attends conference
  5. Developer returns from conference with a pile of low value receipts ($20 for lunch, $40 for cab to airport)
  6. Developer spends two hours painstakingly scanning each receipt and constructs a spreadsheet with itemized list of charges
  7. Boss approves charges without even looking at them
  8. goto 1

How brain-dead is this? Here you have a highly-paid software developer doing super-low value data entry. It probably cost you $200 to have them enter all this junk.

What does this tell the developer?

  • I don’t trust you
  • Scanning receipts is more valuable than writing awesome code
  • Your time is not particularly valuable
  • I don’t trust you

Give the developer a corp Amex, ask them to be a responsible adult, and be done with it. Have them forward receipts (where applicable) to a specific email address to satisfy potential IRS complications. The end.

Anything else is over-optimization of a low-probability event (being audited and needing to justify a latte at the airport).


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