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The Curious Case of Expense Trends

With small beginnings, Webexpenses has experienced quite the expansion period over the last half-decade or so. Seeing a consistent annual growth of 30% since 2014, a client base increase of over 500%, expansion into the US and Australia, and now providing solutions for over 250,000 end users across 1,500 clients worldwide, it is safe to say we’ve come a long way from where we started.

Fast forward to 2018, we ended the calendar year stronger than ever, making people’s lives easier 551,668 times through being able to process their collective £215/$270 million worth of expense claims across 66 countries.

Expense trends

Yes, there are even trends within the world of expenses. In our particular instance, trends allow us to learn more about our user’s habits and spending patterns which we can later use in order to grow and improve the product at hand. With this in mind, 2018 provided us with some interesting insights…

Of the months of the year, November proved to be the most lavish, with £16 million worth of business expenses being processed. November is no doubt a busy precursor month for a large number of festivities to follow, especially in retail. As a result, we’ve determined that the influx of increased expenses in November comes down to a lot of pre-holiday clients schmoozing, travelling to and from suppliers, clients and partners, and the temporary increase in seasonal staff that may be claiming.

November can also be seen as a shorter month than the calendar will have you believe for business given that most people begin to shut up shop or get quieter during Thanksgiving and the run-up to Christmas. As a result of all the festivity, there becomes an underlying pressure to close those seasonal deals before they go cold turkey.

The busiest day, however, was awarded to October 1st, with a staggering 43,140 claims being submitted. Within the Western world, the financial half year end lands on October 1st, suggesting quite a large number of finance teams may have been feeling the pressure to get things submitted before the closing window. However, even with the option to claim expenses on the go with our mobile app, it is evident that there is still a flurry of people that are still pushing it right up until the cut off to submit their claims... come on guys.

Throughout the weekdays (for those doing expenses at the weekend, try not to…), Monday consistently proved to be the least popular day to submit expenses by a landslide, further confirming that even with something as exciting as expenses, nobody likes Mondays… take a look for yourself:

Claims submitted by day:

Tuesday 1110406
Wednesday 916726
Friday 865655
Thursday 844368
Monday 295750

However, rewinding for a moment, October 1st 2018 was actually a Monday, being the only anomaly for the anti-expense Mondays...

Typically in the workplace, Monday is considered the day of "rekindlement"; you take time to familiarise yourself among your work tribe again after the weekend, and people are often left disengaged through the reminiscence of their extravagant Saturday night. However, on this occasion in October, a majority of people’s Saturdays clearly weren’t worth the daydream… or maybe they were, but they didn’t have time to dream with the financial half year end tightening its grip.

The reimbursement of claims is also no stranger to the disgruntlement of Mondays, with only 24,981 being processed on average in comparison to a staggering 114,863 on a Wednesday. By Wednesday it seems finance teams have gotten over the Monday blues and are hit with the midweek motivation.

Have a look below at the total for the year (weekdays only… we won’t tell you again, don’t do your expenses at the weekend):

Claims paid by the day:

Wednesday 1148863
Friday 1033791
Tuesday 1030765
Thursday 1017471
Monday 24981

Following on, the entire cycle of an expense claim from submission to reimbursement saw an average lifetime of just 10 days in comparison to your average paper based system, which can take up to 30 days from start to finish. We did, however, encounter one lightning-fast claim that went through the entire cycle in 24 seconds, suggesting someone really didn’t have time to waste on being reimbursed.

The big hitters

24th September proved to be the most voluminous day with £2,284,908/$2,907,545 worth of expense claims being submitted over the 24 hour period. Obvious justification is that on the 24th September 2018 German supermarket, Aldi revealed a 6-litre bottle of prosecco as being available for purchase, which we think with absolute certainty is the reason behind such a busy day for claims. No, in all seriousness we determined that by the end of September the school summer holidays are a thing of the past and people are back into the full swing of working life and are attending client meetings, exhibitions and partnership deals for example.

The largest single claim we saw in 2018 was the hefty sum of £258,125/$328,464, suggesting either someone hadn’t claimed their Starbucks for a good few hundred years and had finally gotten round to it, or there was a pretty big project hitting the pinnacle.

With 2019 being what will likely be a tide-turning year for us at Webexpenses, we’ll be expecting to see a lot of different figures this time next year… with even fewer people doing expenses at the weekend (the Webexpenses mobile app makes it quick and easy to claim expenses on-the-go in the weekdays, shameless plug here...).

Ultimately, if you’re to take anything away from what you’ve just learned about Webexpenses, consider this kind of data to be one of the key driving forces behind developing our product. Through analysis of this data, we can establish trends and changes that allow us to improve the product’s functionality, add new features, and generate a much better overall user experience for our customers.

If you're interested in finding out more about Webexpenses and how we can help, please feel free to get in contact or book a free demo.

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