Skip to content
Home » Blog » 5 reasons expense management needs to move beyond spreadsheets

5 reasons expense management needs to move beyond spreadsheets

Any business that uses Excel spreadsheets to manage their employee expenses could be reasonably described as having a ‘digital’ system.

It’s now 40 years since ‘electronic’ spreadsheets first started to be used by our finance departments. Despite their age, they remain one of the most commonplace tools used to handle expense reimbursements.

In 2017, Webexpenses commissioned a global survey of more than 4,000 office workers. The results revealed that two-thirds of businesses still use traditional expense management methods - typically, a combination of paperwork and spreadsheets.

But it’s misleading to think of these as truly digital expense management systems when they lack the kind of data connectivity that’s ubiquitous in today’s online world. The information within each Excel spreadsheet is effectively ‘siloed’; it’s locked within the document.

It means that data can’t be easily shared across an organisation. It’s to remove this communications barrier that more companies are moving across to expense management systems such as Webexpenses.

Cloud-based software and real-time processes enable data connectivity, allowing information to be accessed and shared by businesses of any size.

Benefits of a cloud-based approach over spreadsheets

1. A faster way to work

Spreadsheets are unable to provide efficient and effective connectivity between documents, leading to laborious and time-consuming management processes. 

Every time information needs to be transferred between documents, it must be done manually, causing delays in operations and hindering productivity. This lack of connectivity causes significant strain on organisations and can often lead to errors and inaccuracies.

A cloud-based setup removes this delay. A central finance team has instant access to all reimbursement data that’s entered into the system. Traditional methods can take days or weeks, but can be completed in minutes or hours using modern techniques.

2. Replaces manual tasks with automated processes

An Excel spreadsheet is essentially a static document. While macros can be used to automate basic tasks, many users find this too complex.

Automation, however, is integrated into webexpenses with spending information being generated, collated and stored without any need for manual processing. By removing repetitive and tedious manual data entry tasks, finance professionals can focus on properly managing and monitoring out-of-office costs.

3. Improves compliance and fraud protection

Cloud-based systems can protect companies from mistakes and fraud more effectively than traditional methods, due to their automation capabilities.

Finance teams can set spending limits that will automatically trigger alerts whenever a limit is breached by a submitted claim. It allows issues to be instantly identified and addressed. The system can also automatically monitor for duplicate costs - a commonplace user error that’s difficult to spot when using spreadsheets.

4. Transforms management visibility

The lack of data connectivity when using spreadsheets makes any kind of financial reporting a slow and painstaking task as information is pulled together from a multitude of different documents.

A cloud-based system provides instant access to accurate data on every aspect of reimbursements. Webexpenses features integrated reporting tools that allows data to be easily accessed and used.

It shines a light on those areas of business costs that have often remained in the murky shadows. It allows processes to be constantly streamlined and for any issues to be identified before they’re allowed to become costly problems.

5. Happier and less stressed employees

The traditional monthly task of transferring details from paper receipts and into an Excel spreadsheet is one that employees dread. It’s time consuming, tedious, and can take weeks before the costs they’re owed are paid back to them. A cloud-based system makes it simple.

An expenses app allows paper receipts to be scanned and converted into digital claims using Automatic Character Recognition (ACR) technology. A paper receipt can be turned into a digital claim in around 20 seconds.

If you’re a company whose ‘digital’ system still relies on spreadsheets and manual processing, it’s time to move on. Outdated methods of expense management lead to uncontrolled business costs, which are not suitable for companies in today's competitive market.

Webexpenses provides a smarter and safer way to manage employee expenses. Find out for yourself by requesting a free demo.