Expense reports are the bane of many office workers. They take valuable time to complete and are easy to mess up when completed manually, especially when employees have their own methods of collecting receipts and filing reports. Yet they are undeniably necessary for calculating reimbursements and setting up an accurate budget for travel-related expenses for employees.
Expense report software manages the creation of travel and expense (T&E) reports and tracks all relevant data, such as travel dates, total charges, and confirmation reimbursement was received. This software processes employee-submitted reports and automates the management-controlled approval process for reimbursement. By using this solution, you’ll also be able to gain real-time visibility into expense trends and gain a better understanding of how employees are spending company funds.
Expense report software has some overlap with general expense management and time and expense tracking solutions. However, this software is more focused on the specific employee-based travel expenses rather than recording all costs associated with projects or services offered by your company.
There are many benefits to implementing an expense report software at your organization:
One of the first ways to expedite your expense report process is to make specific formatting for each type of report your business needs. Expense report software lets you standardize how every T&E report should look, essentially creating reusable templates which can drastically cut down on work from manual data entry.
Whether you create templates or not, expense report software expedites the entire workflow from when an initial business expense is made to when it is cataloged and reimbursed. Digitizing the process reduces the amount of work necessary to file each expense report by keeping it all contained within an accessible software package.
With travel and expense reports created in a faster time frame, your finance and accounting department can review expense data in near real-time. This increased visibility can lead to new ways to save on spending.
Traditional expense reports had to be typed up, printed out, copied, scanned and finally submitted for approval. This was in addition to any physical receipts and paperwork from other reimbursement expenses. As mentioned above, digitizing T&E reporting removes almost all this paperwork from your reimbursement processes. In fact, cloud-based expense report software even lets employees generate their reports on the go.
For example, an employee on an approved business trip who is staying in a hotel in another city and covering meals with a per diem could easily lose a receipt, especially if the trip lasts more than a few days. By taking and uploading a photo of their receipts to the Cloud as they get them, they don’t need to stuff a bunch of receipts into their bags when it’s time to travel home. Credit card purchases with a company card can be uploaded instantly as they happen. And since these uploads occur in real-time, your accounting department can review each new expense and start the reimbursement approval process immediately.
Every year, there are countless cases of employees misusing their allocated business expenses for personal spending. Setting a policy can make it easier to identify fraud, although it’s easy for small mistakes to be missed. A software can automatically catch policy violations and discrepancies between expense reports and submitted receipts, exposing human error and fraud alike.
Expense policies can be difficult to create and share with your employees when there are different rules for spending within each department. Someone may genuinely make an error when filling out their expense report because they’re using a legitimate policy meant for a different team. Using an expense report software allows employees across every department to review their own internal reimbursement guidelines before making any purchases or expenditures.
One of the main trends in expense reporting software is the inclusion of intelligent character recognition (ICR) technology, a more specific type of optical character recognition (OCR). ICR is able to identify specific data from images, such as picking up prices from a scanned receipt. This greatly speeds up the data transfer process, as your employees can just upload an image with their expense report without having to manually type in relevant pricing information. This technology even works on written notation, not just digital fonts.
Additionally, artificial intelligence (AI) is also being utilized in more expense report software. Like ICR, AI can consolidate data provided by employees into a single, comprehensive format. For example, an employee who had to travel, stay in a hotel, pay for local transportation, and eat at restaurants can upload all their different receipts and the AI will recognize all the expenses from the single business trip as being related.
Finally, mobile device compatibility is on the ride with SaaS expense report software. Android and iOS apps allow users to access cloud-based service anytime, anywhere. Take a photo of a receipt with your smartphone, upload it instantly through a mobile app, let the software do its work so you can finish your expense reports on the go for faster reimbursement than ever before. You can even start a T&E report while still on a work trip!
Pricing for expense report software often depends on the scale of your business operations. These are based on two main factors:
Some options are available for as low as $4.99 per month per active user. Other plans go as high as $9 per month per active user.