Now that there is an app for nearly every conceivable function, companies have realized that their second largest expense, travel, can be fully automated – bringing a new level of insight, analysis and negotiation to the ubiquitous expense report. Gone are the days of paper, calculators and spreadsheets for the tedious yet mandatory task of reimbursement. In their place are flashy smartphone apps that track the traveler’s location and purchases and create expense transactions automatically. These mobile web apps for expenses provide immediate feedback to the employee when policies have been breached. They also provide high-visibility notification for approvers when compliance conditions are not met, allowing firms to exert greater control over their operating expenses to adhere to client requirements and firm policies. Requiring employees to manually complete expense reports, which not only wastes time but also drives up costs through lost productivity and increased staffing, is no longer a viable option. In today’s economy, it’s either increase productivity or suffer reduced profitability.
Get a Life
The well documented trend of high-tech companies catering to the needs of employees extends to the service industry, where employee appreciation and retention is gold. Expense management software frees the employee from tedious after-hours tasks while providing the company with complete tracking, compliance-monitoring and control of expenses from the booking process through reimbursement. Employees are empowered via automated data feeds of credit card, airline, car and hotel charges, as well as automatic receipt creation from downloads and/or photos of receipts. With apps, most expense entries simply don’t need to be entered by hand anymore.
Focus on the Problem
Automated expense management systems subject expenses to rules tests to determine whether they’re in compliance with firm policy. Individual items can be flagged for special review, routing and approval. By focusing only on noncompliant conditions and letting the system perform audits, approvers are able to give attention to items that actually require their involvement rather than wasting management time on non-essentials. A side benefit of the increased productivity is the improvement in risk management, with automated auditing rules enforcing proper firm oversight – even for senior management. Of course, this can all be performed on mobile devices using email or apps, further empowering another group of employees: management.
Big Data Isn’t Just for Google
Along with ease of use comes the standard technology benefit of data capture and reporting. Automated transactions capture a plethora of data that allows the company to perform analytic data mining as never before. This assists with everything from employee compliance and vendor negotiation to strategic outsourcing decisions. Integrated high-end business intelligence solutions with spend-analysis dashboards and drill-down reporting provide management with real-time data that aids in cost control. Standard reports and dashboards analyze workflow to smooth workload and improve the productivity of Accounts Payable departments. With all this reporting exposure available to firms that automate, those without automation who rely on piles of paper are flying blind.
Mobile and Automated Expenses Are Here to Stay
If you’re still entering expenses the old-fashioned way by completing an expense report on paper or in a spreadsheet, you probably won’t be doing it for long. Recent studies have concluded that paper expense reports may cost over 75% more than automated ones. Isn't it time you looked into modern expense report software.
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Our choice of Chrome River EXPENSE was made in part due to the very user-friendly interface, easy configurability, and the clear commitment to impactful customer service – all aspects in which Chrome River was the clear winner. While Chrome River is not as large as some of the other vendors we considered, we found that to be a benefit and our due diligence showed that it could support us as well as any large players in the space, along with a personalized level of customer care.
We are excited to be able to enforce much more stringent compliance to our expense guidelines and significantly enhance our expense reporting and analytics. By automating these processes, we will be able to free up AP time formerly spent on manual administrative tasks, and enhance the role by being much more strategic.