The digital world is moving at a fast pace. Businesses now, more than ever, need to adapt their current practices if they want to keep up with their competitors and cater for both customers and employees.
Expense management remains one area of business administration where paper-based, manual processes are still used.
A manual expenses process typically involves employees keeping hold of paper receipts for costs they incur for business purposes. These receipts are then attached to a claim form and, if found to be valid, the costs are reimbursed.
It's very old school. But there is a solution out there that most people may not even realise they need; which is where an expense management system comes in.
Here’s a look at the benefits of moving away from a traditional approach to a cloud-based system:
Paperless administration for all employees
The switch to a digital management solution will typically reduce the time it takes to process expenses by 25%. It does this by minimising the need to check paperwork and by removing time-consuming administrative tasks.
Instead, employees can use a mobile app to scan paper receipts into digital form - allowing expense reports to be updated in real time.
This means that paper receipts no longer need to be shuffled across an organisation. It avoids the need for data to be manually imported, which is more likely to cause errors and/or duplication.
Improved, effective policing
The traditional ways of managing reimbursements are less likely to effectively control employee expenses. Exaggerated and falsified expense claims still happen, with 57% feeling “a little bit” guilty that they still fiddle with their expenses.
With a paper-based approach, employees are able to submit expenses without clear restrictions as to what they can and can’t reimburse - often leading to overpaid expenses.
This can have a negative impact on the business and finance teams often do not have the time or resources required to monitor or enforce policies.
A digital system allows real-time alerts to check every cost that’s submitted - triggering a warning whenever costs breach any set limit. Policy notifications and reminders are also delivered via on-screen notifications. Organisations will have full visibility of employee spend with no further risk of invalid expense claims.
Aligned with external compliance
The legislative world is moving from a paper-based to a digital world.
In the UK for example, it is required by law to follow new rules under the Making Tax Digital (MTD) legislation. It is now compulsory for businesses to submit VAT information via a digital system. Your business's software should be able to connect to HMRC systems and store and update receipts and VAT invoices.
Many expense management providers are set up to integrate with these external systems and are set up for digital ways of working.
A provider like Webexpenses gives access to the level of accurate and detailed expense information that’s not possible with a traditional and manual approach.
Submitting an expense report is often reported to be one of the dreaded chores faced by employees.
The switch to a digital system removes this pain point. With OCR scanning, a smartphone app can convert a paper receipt into a digital claim in less than 20 seconds, extracting only the information you need.
A fast and efficient system automates tedious tasks and changes the way that expenses are perceived within a workplace. Rather than being a dreaded task, it becomes a seamless part of everyday operations and ultimately results in more productive employees.
At the root of all the problems with a traditional approach is a lack of visibility - you can’t manage what you can’t see.
Trying to collate information for reports becomes a complex task as information is manually pieced together from multiple spreadsheets.
An automated reporting feature allows finance teams to instantly access accurate information on different aspects of employee expenses such as top spenders, top out-of-policy approvers, and an interactive map highlighting top claims in different regions. A feature like this helps to meet tight reporting deadlines and track performance.
Transition to digital expenses with ease
One reason why a paper-based approach has existed for so long is because there has been no alternative.
The switch to digital expense management doesn’t just provide a more efficient system - it delivers a fundamentally better way to manage and monitor expenses.
It’s a way of working that’s attuned to today’s digitally connected business environment. With the continued development of faster, smarter, and more secure digital processes, the paper-based approach to expense management is reaching the end of its lifespan.
If you're interested in improving your expense management process to help save time, costs, and improve employee morale, get in touch with the team.