Smarter record-keeping helps businesses to save time and keep a more accurate track of their finances. One of the most popular solutions is expense management software, which can make managing payments more cost and time-effective.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about expense management software. This includes what it is, the benefits it could offer your business and the main software providers to choose from.
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Expense management software aims to automate tasks like expense reporting. It’s usually cloud-based, giving finance staff and managers access on the go, with all information updated in real time.
With manual processes, expense management can become complicated. The more employees a company has and the more geographically spread out they are, the longer and more time-consuming the paper trail of expenses is to decipher. This can lead to mistakes, lots of wasted time and potentially even fraud.
A reliable expense management tool can solve these problems, increasing accuracy and efficiency of expenses tracking. Crucially, it can potentially save hundreds of hours of admin, data entry and financial detective work trying to chase, understand or correct expense paper trails.
You can get a standalone expense management tool and link it with your accounting tools, or choose accounting or other financial management software with expense tracking features. We’ll look at some leading providers and options shortly.
At a basic level, businesses can manage expenses through manual entry on a spreadsheet. Employees need to keep hold of the receipts for travel and other expenses, and finance staff need to check these receipts one by one. It’s a time-consuming task, and one with plenty of potential for human error.
To save time, many companies use expense management software such as Oracle. This simplifies the process and automates many everyday tasks, keeps more accurate records and alerts users to expense reports in need of review.
However, there is now a more modern solution available to businesses - cloud-based expense management solutions.
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Cloud-based expense management software offers many benefits for businesses, especially compared to more traditional methods. Here are just a few:
Save time - not only on repetitive data entry tasks, but also on reconciliation, reimbursement, generating reports and many other processes. And with a faster system, employees are reimbursed for expenses more quickly.
Increased security - with all your receipts and records stored digitally and on the cloud, there’s a reduced risk of data loss compared to keeping paper records.
Greater accuracy - automation tools reduce the risk of human error, which can lead to expensive mistakes for the business. It could even cause a compliance issue.
Better efficiency - faster, streamlined accounting processes means more time for your finance staff to spend on other critical work.
Like any new solution or way of working, expense management software also comes with risks. For example, there’s the risk of negligence during approval or auditing, where something critical is missed because of automation processes or the ease of approval.
You should also be careful to choose a software provider with a reputation for great customer support. If something goes wrong with your software and you can’t get help, your operations could grind to a halt.
Here are just some of the key things to think about when choosing expense management software for your business:
Cost. Consider any overheads related to buying and installing software (i.e. new smartphones for receipt capture) as well as the monthly subscription cost.
Integration with business software/tools. Does the software integrate with your existing tools, or do you need to get new software (i.e. accounting software) in order to use it?
Ease of use. Think about how easy or difficult it’ll be to migrate from older methods of expense tracking - will your finance team be able to get up and running quickly on the new system?
Customisation and flexibility. How much control do you need on things like spending limit policies, and does the software fit with your current approval flow model?
Currencies. If your business is international, you’ll need expense management software that supports multi-currency transactions.
Not all businesses need to use expense management software, or at least not a premium-level tool with a high monthly fee. But for others, improving the efficiency and accuracy of record-keeping could be critical for legal compliance - as well as for saving time and money.
Here are some tell-tale signs that your business could use expense management software:
- Your company is expanding, with increasing numbers of employees - and you can’t keep up with the volume of expenses
- Confusion over the expenses paper trail occurs regularly, requiring time to sort out
- You have employees based in different locations and countries - this can make expense tracking complicated
- You don’t have a good grip on your company’s financial data, or how much expenses are costing you.
- Employee reimbursements are regularly late
- You have concerns over data security, fraud or corporate credit card abuse.
Typically, here’s what an expense management or tracking solution should offer your business:
- Receipt scanning on smartphones
- Centralised receipt dashboard
- Expense tagging
- Mobile app or mobile-friendly accessibility
- Manual expense entry
- Customisable expense policy and approval processes
- Integration with third-party accounting software (i.e. Intuit QuickBooks, Xero)
- Integration with company credit cards (if needed)
- Schedule reimbursements
- Automated expense reconciliation and reporting
- Alerts - for policy breaches, entries in need of review and other issues in need of attention.
There are many providers and products out there, but here are just a few of the leading expense management solutions to take a look at...
Certify Expense is travel and expense management software which offers a full range of features at an SME-friendly price. There’s a mobile app for on-the-go tracking and management, along with the following features:
- Emburse Receipt Technology to capture and automatically categorise receipts
- Issue physical or virtual credit cards to users
- Mileage tracking using GPS
- Fast, secure reimbursements with Certify Payments
- Easy, automated reports with Certify Reports and ReportExecutive
- Visually appealing, actionable dashboard
- Pre-approved spend requests
- Free consultation service for integrating Certify Expense into your existing business and accounting service.
Pricing for Certify Expense starts at $8 per user/month² for smaller businesses (of under 25 employees), with a monthly service fee or annual fixed pricing for larger organisations. There’s also a free trial available for the entry-level package.
Unlike many of the other providers on the market, Expensify is aimed at large organisations and their more complex needs. It offers a full workflow system and technology integration in areas such as tax, accounting, HR and more.
Expensify’s many features include:
- One-click receipt scanning
- Import business credit card transactions
- Multi-level approval workflows
- Corporate card reconciliation
- Advanced tax tracking
- Delegated access controls
- PCI-Compliant security.
Pricing for Expensify ranges from £8 to £14 per user/month⁴, with limited free options for freelancers and self-employed users.
FreshBooks is accounting software with expense tracking features. It’s popular with SMEs, thanks to a great user experience, flexible pricing plans and affordability.
The software offers the following features:
- Connect bank accounts and company credit cards for automated expense tracking
- Capture receipts via the FreshBooks mobile app
- Tax-friendly categorisation of expenses
- Mark businesses expenses as billable and automatically create client invoices
- Project spend tracking
- Multi-currency expenses
- Secure receipt storage in the cloud.
Pricing for FreshBooks starts at $7.50 per month⁶ for the Lite package, although you’ll need to upgrade to Plus for $12.50 a month to benefit from automated expense tracking features.
Another full-service accounting tool, QuickBooks offers numerous expense management features for small businesses. The cloud-based software automates your expenses, bringing in bank transactions and automatically matching them to receipts and bills captured with the handy QuickBooks app.
QuickBooks offers the following features:
- Import transactions and update your account in real time
- Tax-friendly categorisation
- Mileage tracking through the QuickBooks app
- In-app messaging for collaboration with your accountant.
Pricing for QuickBooks ranges from £6 to £16 a month⁸, with no fixed contracts so you can cancel anytime.
If you’re a smaller business in need of something simple and affordable, Rydoo could be the ideal solution. It’s expense management app is designed to streamline tracking and expenses, through the following features:
- Upload receipts via the app or email
- Automatic organisation of receipt data based ion projects and categories
- Log and manage mileages
- Create a claims approval flow
- Generate customised reports with real-time data
- Detect non-compliant claims
- Multi-currency support.
Pricing for Rydoo starts at £6 per active user/month for a basic plan.
If your business has employees in other countries, look out for expense management solutions which offer multi-currency support. These include FreshBooks, Rydoo, QuickBooks (depending on your plan⁸) and Certify Expense¹.
And that’s pretty much it - everything you need to know about expense management software. You should be all set to start comparing providers and choose the software that works for your business. Good luck!
Sources used for this article:
- Certify Website
- Certify price page
- Expensify Website
- Expensify Pricing
- Freshbooks website
- Freshbooks pricing
- Quickbooks Intuit website
- Quickbooks Intuit.com price page
- Rydoo price page
Sources checked on 25-Oct-2021.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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