Wouldn’t it be great if you could spend less time doing your expenses? Despite many companies using business software to automate back-office processes in the finance function, employee expenses remains a problem child, heavily dependent on data accuracy, a complete paper trail and the availability of management to authorise claims in a timely manner. And that’s before you consider the cost implications of processing thousands of paper-based forms which typically go AWOL.

This article will consider some of the key obstacles many organisations face with managing their expenses and how an integrated expenses solution can help.

  1.  Limited Visibility

You can’t gain an accurate picture of your expenditure if you can’t see it, and the chances are, in a bulky spreadsheet fuelled with errors you are unlikely to have full visibility over your costs. Integrated expenses solutions enable businesses to accurately monitor employee patterns and analyse instances of maverick spending. With detailed information readily available, they can obtain an overall insight into spending throughout their organisation and assess where they can gain efficiencies.

Web-based expenses solutions also provide greater visibility to enable employees to review their claims history and accurately track the approval status of outstanding monies, reducing the number of queries and delays inherent with paper-based processes.

  1.  No Control Or Compliance

Automated expense solutions hand back financial control so businesses can introduce approval hierarchies and automatic ‘flagging capabilities’ to prevent costs from spiralling. Authorisers can set specific caps and restrictions under criteria for specific spending categories e.g. travel, and if the cost is higher than a set price, it will alert the authoriser immediately before the claim is approved. In turn this encourages employees to be more vigilant and compliant with company policy, making expenses a more transparent and painless process for everyone.

  1.  Lost Receipts/Supporting Paperwork

Endless paper trails and lost supporting documents waste everyone’s time and lead to inaccurate reporting – e.g. if a receipt has been lost or accidentally thrown away, the claim may be re-submitted when it has already been approved, creating duplications and issues when processers come to follow up on specific claims for reporting purposes.

Automated expense solutions, seamlessly integrated into document management solutions, allow claimants to scan relevant supporting information and attach it to their claim which is then stored in a secure archive, removing the need to print off, post and store paper, reducing processing costs by up to 80 per cent.

  1.  Lack Of Flexibility

If employees can email, attach images and do their banking online via mobile and tablet devices why can’t they submit or approve expenses in the same way? Leading expenses solutions now offer mobile functionality which allows you to ‘approve on the move’ ensuring employees are not restricted to office hours and locations to submit their claims. In the event of sickness absence or annual leave, intuitive approval hierarchy functionality allows businesses to nominate additional approvers so claims can be automatically routed to them to ensure expenses can still be processed on time, every time, instead of being outstanding for weeks.

  1.  Inaccurate Reporting

Integrated expenses software eliminates the need for error prone spreadsheets and standalone systems which can lead to inaccurate financial reporting. Leading systems allow you to analyse comprehensive financial data and produce reports with ease, eliminating errors associated with re-keying of data. Eliminating time-consuming administrative tasks also frees-up everyone in your business to concentrate on what’s really important, adding greater value.

Manual, outdated and error-prone expenses processes no longer need to be the norm. Software providers provide integrated and automated expenses solutions which deliver mutual time and cost benefits for both businesses and their employees. Given that employee expenses is the second largest controllable cost for most businesses, you can no longer let obstacles get in your way.