Efficiency Working 4 You – Expense Reporting Applications

Our last article focused on payroll applications and making sure our employees are paid correctly and on-time. Our focus in this article is making sure we have all travel expenses captured correctly and to provide reimbursement in a timely and correct manner as well. Keeping track of the paper receipts for travel, is just as difficult as keeping track of a receipt for purchasing a piece of equipment or other business-related expense. In fact, it may be more difficult because you’re on the road and not someplace stationary. With the use of a smartphone, either Android or iOS, everyone can quickly capture travel expenses and generate the expense report at the same time. So, what are your options? More importantly, what do you need? Let’s take a look.

The Features

a) Type of Services Needed – determining what type of services you need will set the tone for the following factors. Do you need a tool that handles your country of origin as well as international business travel? How many users are there in your company currently and are you expecting to grow with the number of users quickly? Will the users be submitting travel, business meals, or office supply reimbursement? Do you think you will need approval at different levels now or in the near future? Does the software integrate with your current accounting software? Is the software easy to learn and use and what type of support is available if there are issues? Based on recent abuses by employees in the U. S., it is important that the software comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to avoid penalties because your company lacks effective internal expense controls. You also need to make sure you have a software package that meets the seven-year data storage requirement of the Internal Revenue Service in the event of an audit!

b) Pricing the price for services is usually a specific monthly fee per-user.However, there are software packages that charge based on the number of transactions processed.

c) Ease of use – from employee use, approval process if you have someone that approves the total expense, to integrating with the accounting software, or working with the bookkeeper or accountant on a monthly or annual basis, the software needs to minimize keystrokes and capture the image clearly.

d) Internal Expense Controls to Scale as Your Business Grows – I know we mentioned the IRS and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act audit and internal expense control requirements. It is critical however, that as your business grows you can easily adjust the internal controls quickly to meet the growing complexity of your business and possibly if the legal requirements change.

e) Customer Service – when you need help you need help! You want to be able to obtain correct support in a timely manner.

Here’s a partial list of software as a service provider (SaaS) expense reporting service providers. Be aware, these key players offering expense reporting applications have been listed in ‘alphabetical order’ without regard to any assessment of their performance but in my opinion their best standout feature. All of the SaaS expense reporting providers allow you to process an expense report from a mobile device or tablet.

AutoEntry –  AutoEntrys’ Expenses module allows the uploading and processing of expense receipts or invoices by a submitter which can be added to expense reports for approval.  With an easy to use Phone App as well as the desktop version,  AutoEntry converts the report to a purchase invoice in the Purchases inbox with the individual expenses listed as line items.    When all the expenses are added to a report, they are sent for approval where the relevant approver is selected. The approver can then approve or deny the report which either sends the approved expense report to the purchases inbox for the accountant/bookkeeper to publish to your accounts software, or a cancelled report is returned to the submitter as unapproved. It’s that simple! AutoEntry also captures bills, receipts, sales invoices, bank and credit card statements and more.

Certify Travel – While mentioned as the last item on the list of five (5) features to look for, customer service is by no means the least important. This is the standout feature for Certify Travel with the following customer service options: the email address of the user’s system administrator, a phone number to speak with a live technician 24 hours a day/5 day a week, a knowledge base, and a frequently asked question area. It appears that Certify also has very competitive price options allowing companies to select either a per-user per month option or per-transaction pricing as well.

Expensify – The pricing plans are the standout feature for Expensify, especially if you want to try it prior to having your employees try it! The free trial can be extended to 28 days if you add employees or use other features. There’s an individual and corporate level pricing strategy via annual subscription or flexible pay per use billing. Another standout is the ability to capture mileage expense tracking by typing the distance, odometer readings or using GPS. Finally, probably the standout that makes the most sense if you have a lot of employees, is the ability for an approver to review a report from their email inbox or to reject a single expense from email as well.

Nexonia Expenses – Imagine an application that allows auto-generated entries linked to a credit card and the ability to drag and drop multiple entries into one expense report. There’s also the ability to post to different departments as well as time tracking, split expenses and auto balancing the expense report.

Receipt Bank – Included in this category of our Efficiency Working 4 You series is Receipt Bank because it now serves two purposes, data capture for all business expense tracking and now travel expenses! Receipt Bank’s standout features are pricing on the number of items processed not users on a rolling three-month average, a service for self-employed workers that is limited use but free, the ability to put all their receipts in a dedicated Dropbox that is extracted every 24 hours, and the ability to set the camera to photograph one or several receipts at a time.

Rydoo – While expense tracking is the focus of this article, Rydoo provides a standout feature in its ability to act as a travel service allowing its users to book flights and hotels and automatically add the flight and hotel transactions to expense reports. But wait, the software dashboards of both the web and mobile user interfaces (UIs) are available in numerous languages, and the service will reimburse the employee in his or her local currency.

Zoho Expense – Price and easy deployment for the software are the standout features software. Zoho Expense also provides small and mid-sized businesses the option to track expenses internationally and is one of the nine (9) PCMag.com apps that provides Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) reimbursement.

Still trying to determine a direction? Answer these four questions first:

a) Do you have the time to learn the application?

b) Are you able to keep up-to-date on new tax laws in order to avoid legal troubles?

c) Do you have an accounting professional to assist you with understanding the changes that impact your business for expense reporting?

d) How easy is the expense reporting application to manage the travel expense process and get real-time information?

Speak with your accounting professional to determine what may work best with your business. Or give us a call so we can assist you with identifying the best choice!

Sources: pcmag.com and capterra.com