Why it’s time for expense report management to ‘fly’ By Adam Reynolds CEO

(via our US office)

t’s fair to say that expense reports have always been the ‘ugly duckling’ of business finances – an unloved and unpopular part of working life that’s loathed by finance teams and abused by claimants. It’s a double negative that doesn’t create a positive.

For many companies, employee expense reports have become such a prickly and unpleasant area of company administration, that they’ve simply given up trying to control them. Instead, the budget for yearly losses caused by errors and fraud.

It’s an attitude which helps only to exasperate the problem with companies in the US estimated to be losing $2.8 billion each year to falsified and exaggerated expense reports. But for more organizations, this is one ‘ugly duckling’ that has started to undergo a dramatic change.

Thanks to digital technology, the task of managing employee expense reports is shifting from something that has been universally loathed to a simple and fuss-free aspect of business life that can actually be enjoyable.

It’s an unlikely makeover which is being made possible by the ongoing move away from our old paper-based ways of handling expense reports. It’s leaving behind the processes which caused so much discontent and systems that failed us on such a fundamental level.

Failing systems

Because the basic requirement for a claimant is to have a fast and painless way to be reimbursed for any costs they’ve paid from their own pocket. For finance professionals, they just want a simple way to manage expense reports – quickly, efficiently and equitably.

But historically, none of these things has been possible. All sides have suffered from having to rely on slow and error-prone systems which require each expense report to be manually processed. These misfiring systems are the root cause of our negative attitudes.

The move to a digital system provides an organization with the ability to manage and monitor expense reports in ways not previously been possible; to access information in real-time and to actively integrate company policy into employee workflow.

It does this by virtually removing the need for paper-based or manual processes. A system such as Webexpenses equips employees with a expenses app to turn paper receipts they receive into a digital form – removing the faff of paper expense reports and reducing the time it takes to be reimbursed.

For finance teams, it means no longer having to handle the monthly avalanche of expense reports that typically occurs when using a paper-based system. With digital management, claimants can update their accounts when and wherever is convenient.

On average, a business making the switch can expect to reduce processing times by 25% with a 10% cut in costs. It’s the reason so many organizations are now embracing these digital systems.

The bottom line savings provide powerful ammunition for anyone looking to justify the changeover to senior management. The efficiency boosts they bring provide a safe and secure return on investment which helps to minimize any perceived organizational risk.

Digital makeover

The shift over to faster and more efficient processes is also helping to change the outward appearance of this ‘ugly duckling’, making expense report management a much more swan-like user experience than ever before.

The old paper-based world of crumpled receipts, spreadsheets and filing cabinets full of yellowing records is replaced by a digital environment in which looks really do matter. Crisp, clean designs and slick user interfaces help to take the pain out of managing expense reports.

It’s this symbiotic relationship between form and function which is shaping a new generation of digital expense report systems; as developers systematically tackle and remove each of the pain points caused by paper processes – for both claimants and finance professionals.

Recent research by Webexpenses suggests that attitudes are already beginning to change as expense report management evolves. When employees were surveyed on whether they had a love or hate relationship with expense reports, a third of the respondents (33%) opted for ‘love’.

Of those who chose ‘hate’, the vast majority (75%) were employees using traditional paper-based systems. It’s an indication of how digital technology is helping to thaw the frosty relationships of yesteryear.

It’s a change that every business now has the power to instigate. By moving to digital expense reports, organizations can decide for themselves if they want expense report management to evolve past the ‘ugly duckling’ stage.

You can find out how webexpenses provides a smarter way to manage and monitor expense reports by taking it for a trial, here.