Accounting in the fleet: Efficient recording of costs made easy

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Correct fleet accounting and the reliable recording and processing of invoices play a crucial role in day-to-day fleet management – because every vehicle fleet is associated with high costs. It is therefore not surprising that many fleet managers would like to see a simplification in invoice entry. Manually managing invoices for accounting requires a lot of time and also carries the risk of errors: each invoice must be entered individually, checked for accuracy, stored in the system and assigned to the appropriate cost centers. In this article, you’ll learn how your company can digitize fleet invoice management to reduce labor and eliminate accounting errors.

Fleet costs – from individual items to total cost of ownership (TCO)

The vehicle fleet represents a valuable asset for many companies, especially if the vehicles are owned by the company. In the case of leased vehicles, accounting is performed by the lessor, but the monthly lease payments must be recorded and audited as regular operating expenses for the company’s accounting system. But that’s not all, because fleets incur a variety of different types of costs, including:

  • Personnel costs
  • Fuel costs
  • Tires, spare parts, repair and maintenance costs, and third-party services
  • Rentals for garage and storage space, office and recreation rooms, repair and washing facilities.
  • Vehicle taxes, insurance, GEZ fees, registration and deregistration fees
  • Depreciation and lease payments and much more

All these costs must be allocated to the appropriate cost centers in fleet accounting. This creates a comprehensive picture of all expenses and fleet management can identify exactly those areas in the company’s fleet that cause particularly high financial burdens or where potential savings are hidden.

Manual invoice entry in the fleet can therefore lead to a number of problems and irregularities, which can both increase the administrative burden and lead to inaccurate data and analysis. It is therefore advisable to switch to a digital fleet accounting solution that enables efficient and accurate invoice capture. With modern tools, you can save time, minimize errors and carry out a well-founded cost analysis and calculation of the total cost of ownership.

Manual invoice entry: This is where the dangers for fleet accounting lurk

Manual fleet management is still the order of the day today. This means a lot of paperwork, an enormous amount of personnel effort in the company and a large error rate, especially with regard to the recording of receipts. The following problems often occur: The double entry of invoices and overlooked irregularities in the recording of tank data. The latter occurs particularly often and subsequently leads to incorrect calculation of actual fuel consumption and errors in the balance sheet as well as the calculation of taxes. A plausibility check is not possible in such cases.

It gets even trickier when insurance premiums are to be periodized in a performance-based manner. This is only possible through complete invoice registration. However, when gaps exist, timely cost analysis or evaluation of “total cost of ownership” (TCO) is simply not possible.

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The vehicle fleet as a fixed asset

A company’s vehicle fleet is generally regarded as a fixed asset. These are assets that are intended to permanently serve the business operations of a company. This includes vehicles such as delivery vans or company cars that are used for longer periods and are not intended for immediate sale. These vehicles are recognized as fixed assets on a company’s balance sheet and depreciated over their useful life to reflect depreciation over time.

On the other hand, there are current assets, which comprise the assets of a company that are expected to be converted into cash, consumed or sold within a financial year or a normal business cycle, such as merchandise or raw materials.

A distinction is made between two categories of fixed assets: Property, plant and equipment, which includes buildings, machinery, vehicles and operating and office equipment. and intangible assets. These include patents, licenses and trademark rights. In accounting, the vehicle fleet is classified as property, plant and equipment.

Depreciation of cars in the vehicle fleet

In the fleet, company cars are usually depreciated using the straight-line method. The purchase value of the vehicle is distributed evenly over its useful life. A normal useful life of six years is generally assumed for passenger cars. This is based on the depreciation tables (depreciation for wear and tear) of the Federal Ministry of Finance. A car with an acquisition value of 45,000 euros is depreciated over six years at an annual rate of 7,500 euros.

Degressive depreciation is also possible, but is used less frequently. In this case, the depreciation amount is higher in the first few years and then decreases. This method is based on faster depreciation at the beginning of the vehicle’s life cycle.

The fleet manager manually records all invoices in the fleet
Manual invoice recording in the fleet is particularly error-prone and can lead to incorrect decisions.

Fast and secure invoice recording: support from fleet management software

Fleet management software relieves fleet management of the burden of entering invoices as well as invoice processing. This benefits both fleet managers and the company’s accounting department. Thanks to the linked digital collaboration between the two areas, potential errors can be identified quickly or do not arise in the first place. A comprehensive software solution also enables the step-by-step implementation of an accounting interface in different stages. We show you what this implementation process looks like in the company:

Stage 1: Digital invoice processing with export function

The simplest option is to set up an export function for collective invoices that are automatically processed by the fleet software. Monthly digital invoice files from leasing or service station companies are automatically captured, processed and then transferred as a data record to financial accounting.

During invoice processing, plausibility checks are performed directly and missing information is reliably added. This ensures that relevant consumption information is stored at vehicle level in the fleet management software and is available for all evaluations. Via defined programming interfaces (APIs), systems such as SAP, DATEV or Diamant can be specifically addressed and supplied with the corresponding accounting records.

Stage 2: Integration of the fleet software into the workflow

The next stage involves the use of an OCR scanner that reads in analog incoming invoices and transfers the generated data records together with the scanned documents to the fleet management system. There, the scanned invoices are stored as PDF or TIF files in the digital archive in an audit-proof manner or stored as links in a separate archive. With powerful fleet management software, your company can make invoice processing more efficient and optimize collaboration between fleet and accounting.

Accounting in the fleet: Important notes on subledger accounting

If you keep the fleet as a sub-ledger, it is important to take extra care. Subledger accounting is used to explain certain general ledger accounts in more detail, but also carries the risk of misunderstandings. Companies that use a cloud solution or hire a service provider to capture invoices should therefore carefully check where fleet invoices are processed and archived. Note that relocating electronic accounting abroad requires an application to the relevant tax office and is only possible in countries with which Germany has concluded a double taxation agreement (DTA). The requirements are demanding and it is of great importance to ensure that the control of the tax bases by the German tax authorities is guaranteed.

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With accounting integration in your fleet management software, you benefit from a simplified and more efficient way of working. You save time, avoid mistakes and always have all important information in view. Take advantage of these benefits to optimally manage and continuously improve your company’s fleet.

Simplify fleet accounting with Fleet+.

Fleet+ is a comprehensive fleet management software that offers automatic invoice capture and secure document storage in its own archive. Even in the standard scope of delivery, the software provides your company with numerous import interfaces, for example to leasing companies, free of charge. The import of toll or insurance fees is also possible without any problems.

Many invoices list operating statuses of the vehicles and cars in your fleet. The software even records this, independently generates runtime/running performance forecasts and compares these with the framework conditions of your fleet’s leasing contracts. At the push of a button, a traffic light function informs the user about contractual overruns or underruns of the leasing contracts for each car in the fleet and thus always has a clear cost transparency.

The otherwise tedious calculation of annual forecasts is done in no time with Fleet+. Cost forecasts calculate the ideal replacement time for your vehicles and cost-intensive purchases can be scheduled in a relaxed manner. Annual debits can be periodized and transferred monthly as a posting record to financial accounting. The powerful reporting module runs through the entire program and offers the possibility of evaluating all fleet costs broken down to each individual vehicle or car. This allows fleet managers to quickly identify outliers and cost drivers and take timely and meaningful action that will benefit the entire fleet.

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