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Northwestern University

Expense Report Automated Signature FAQ

How should we proceed with expenses if a designated supervisor is not reflected at the time of online expense entry?  

Personnel with multiple FASIS appointments across Northwestern will not transition to electronic signatures until all of their appointment areas have transitioned; see the University-wide roll-out calendar for additional information.  Employees who do not have a visible designated supervisor to select at the time of expense submission should use the previous printed paperwork signature process until supervisor information is viewable in the NUFinancials expense module.

What is the procedure for interdisciplinary expenses that are routed to the Employee’s Home Department rather than the Department the expense is associated with?

There are a number of WCAS departments who process expenses for faculty or staff whose appointments are in other departments. There may also be some cases where a faculty or staff member submits a report that contains expenses which do not directly pertain to his/her home department.

The expense supervisor essentially serves an HR supervisor function, the automated certification ensures that the employee’s direct report grants approval for the report, even if the expense is related to a different department. In these cases, where the reimbursement is interdisciplinary in nature, we suggest that the individual who prepares the report includes concise documentation(such as the WCAS preauthorization form as well as the signed printable expense page) with expense report that clearly states the program’s support and financial commitment for the expense as part of the “preauthorization” workflow step in order to make the chair’s sign-off as easy and efficient as possible.

How much information should the preauthorization include? When should it be included?

Preauthorization notification should be in the form of an e-mail or letter written by the faculty member or PI with approval authority, with authorization of the employee being reimbursed, travel dates, destination, purpose of travel, and any other stipulations for the reimbursement. This could include any documentation (letter, email notification etc...) provided by the institution/ department granting the monetary commitment. Notification should then be uploaded into NUFIN with the reimbursement along with other required support documentation.

Preauthorization should be included any time the expense report does not pertain directly to ER supervisor (or the department they reside in). This will usually occur for expenses that span across multiple departments (as detailed above), and postdocs/grad students/research staff—who often have shifting funding sources (and multiple supervisors) but only one FASIS appointment.

How do I check the status of a specific expense report and monitor its progress through workflow?

In order to view the details of a specific report, navigate to the view tab on NU Financials. (Main Menu->Travel and Expense - > Travel and Expense Center-> Expense Report -> View-> Enter Report ID)

You can then enter the report ID and view the report. Once you pull up the report, click on the link next to status. If the status is “Pending” this means the report still needs to be submitted. If the status is “Submitted for Approval” this means in the report has been submitted, click on the link the view which step in workflow the report is currently in.

Alternatively, run a SC026- Expense by Submission & Workflow Status to view multiple reports’ workflow status.

Before making approval/send back request from department or financial approvers, please confirm that the report is in the appropriate workflow step.

How can I set up a periodic review process of expenses within our department/program rather than rely on individual real-time e-mail notifications?

For expense supervisors who approve a larger volume of reports, it may be preferable to complete a more periodic review of expenses utilizing the SC026 workflow report (with or without corresponding expense paperwork) rather than relying on real-time email notifications.  Below are guidelines for implementing and following this optional process within the department:

  • When submitting an expense report, department staff should retain a printable view of the expense report (accessible in NUFinancials) along with paper copies of support documentation (receipts, preapproval documentation, and any other details included with reimbursement for later review).
  • On a consistent basis (weekly, biweekly, etc.) the Department BA/DA should provide an updated version of the SC026 Expense by Submission & Workflow Status report (which provides a snapshot of expense report workflow status in a specific department) for the expense supervisor along with printed expense detail so that a full review can occur outside of NUFinancials. See SC026 Expenses Submission/Workflow Report Guide.
  • Using this “periodic review” approach for reviews and approvals, the Expense Supervisor can utilize the report and corresponding documentation to review/approve any reports straight from the NUPortal Approval Inbox.   With this process, expense supervisors do not need to rely on the real-time e-mail notifications from FFRA, but should still certify each expense online in order to apply their approval. See FFRA Workflow Notifications Guide (page 5) to set up e-mail filters based on e-mail subjects (Subject contains “Expense report 000”) that will send any FFRA-generated notifications into a specific Outlook folder rather than the general inbox.
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