Drowning in Bureaucracy

Please, someone, save me from my company’s online accounting system.

I have to buy my plane ticket for Berlin in three days, but I can’t buy it through the online system without my director’s online approval. However, I can’t fill in the online approval form until I know what hotel I’m staying in and the exact cost, but I won’t know my hotel until I hear back from our German office, which could easily take more than three days.

Preparing for a Stressful Day

Not to mention that, even if I had all of the information I needed, I can’t figure out what anything on the online system means. I’m registered to receive the English version. This means that about 2 out of 50 screens are partially in English. Or rather, they use words that exist in the English language. For instance, I get random pages that read “Address Batch Settings” and “Set CUGs.” Huh?

The Help notes from the Address Batch Settings page helpfully told me that

  • The Toolbar is displayed in the upper part of the window.
  • The Activity name is displayed.
  • Edition items of each activity are displayed.


For users (what’s a user, I wonder?), it says, “Set a user to the destination. Select a user from the User list or CUG member list.”

No thanks to this “help,” I finally figured out that the page is for filling in my list of approvers: my export control reviewers (輸出管理責任者), first approver, second approver, and final approver. (検印(一次、二次、最終)).

I was pretty sure I knew who all my “reviewers” were, but I can’t make the system find them (or anyone), and it won’t let me fill them in manually. It is humanly impossible to “set a user to the destination.”

By the way, you must attach receipts to an A4 size sheet of paper, but remember never to tape them on. Only use glue. Otherwise, the whole thing will come back through a string of accounting group people to your group’s secretary to you, and then you have to “circulate” (回して) it all the way back again. It could be months before you get your ¥6000 for that alien visa re-entry fee.

Below are some business terms that are (sadly) making themselves cozy in my everyday lexicon. Anyone who isn’t trying to navigate an atrociously designed online accounting system in order to get reimbursed for expenses had better just stop right here, unless you’re looking for a quick way to fall asleep.

The bureaucracy:
経理 (けいり): accounting
総 務 (そうむ): general affairs (policies, insurance management, entry badges, supplies…catchall for pretty much everything administrative not found in accounting, personnel, or IT)
人事 (じんじ): personnel

Terms for accounting forms:
出張申請(しゅっちょうしんせい): travel authorization application
出張旅費精算(しゅっちょうりょうひせいさん): travel expenses reimbursement
現金立替精算(げんきんたてかえせいさん): currency exchange adjustment
日当手当精算(にっとうてあてせいさん): per diem allowances reimbursement
海外渡航精算(かいがいとこうせいさん): overseas travel reimbursement
状況照会(じょうきょうしょうかい): status inquiry (for what, I can never remember)
予算単位 (よさんたんい): budget code (everybody’s got one)
日帰区分(にっきくぶん): no. of travel days
仮出金(かりしゅっきん): cash advance
固定資産(こていしさん): fixed assets
手数費(てすうひ): fee
手続き(てつづき): paperwork, forms, arghhh

Don’t even get me started on the expense categories…I want to cry whenever I open up that screen.

About July McAtee

American gal turned Japanese "salaryman" for a while. I'm blogging my experiences as my daughter and I move from Silicon Valley to Japan and beyond.
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