Rather than sift through the stash of receipts in your desk drawer at the end of the month, expense management apps let you file that paperwork automatically.
The dream of a completely paperless office lies beyond the reach of many businesses, but we can still aspire to the less-paper office. If you’re looking to banish more paperwork from your workflow then expense management might be a good place to start.
You’ll find plenty of expense management platforms out there so it pays to do your research. Like any new IT system you’ll want to consider how it will integrate with your existing systems, whether it works with the right devices, and whether it supports any specific needs of your business or industry.
Don’t leap in head first, instead run a pilot with key staff to see whether it meets your needs. Some expense management systems also support extra modules, such as the ability to generate invoices and purchase orders, which might be handy if you’re looking to consolidate your IT systems.
Get daily business news.
The latest stories, funding information, and expert advice. Free to sign up.
Rather than an expensive upfront investment, many expense management platforms are cloud-based systems which charge per user, per month. This makes it easier for small businesses to afford enterprise-grade services and scale-up over time, plus it can be easier to calculate your return on investment.
It might not be hard to justify the expense once you consider how long some staff spend manually calculating their expenses each month, along with the back office administrative hours spent processing those expense claims.
A well-rounded expense management platform can save time, eliminate double handling, reduce data entry errors and help detect anomalies that indicate which expense claims require closer scrutiny.
To help speed things up, many expense management platforms support mobile devices, allowing cameras to scan paper receipts and import them into the system. Some expense management platforms even have agreements with travel-centric service providers – such as taxi companies, airlines and hotel chains – that handle the entire process electronically and completely eliminate the need for paper receipts.
Keep in mind that embracing expense management isn’t just an IT purchasing decision, it’s also a change management challenge as you encourage your people to approach an old problem in a new way.
It helps for the project to have a champion in senior management, but it also pays to take a consultative approach – getting buy-in from end users – rather than simply dictating change.
The planning stage should include a needs analysis phase to ensure that you’re actually addressing the day-to-day pain points of the staff who will rely on the new system – both those responsible for racking up the expenses and those responsible for processing them. From here, sell them on the benefits of change, and take onboard their feedback, while bearing in mind that their adoption of the new system will determine its success or failure.
They say you have to spend money to make money, but that doesn’t mean you need to wade through all those receipts when an expense management system can do the job.
Anthony Hill is the Head of Technology at Geeks2U, a national on-site computer repair and tech support company.