Accountants: How to find the best expense management solutions

As an independent accountant, your business is already familiar with high-quality accounting software. But being just as knowledgeable about expense management software will serve you in two big ways.

First, the obvious: knowing the best expense management solutions for other small businesses makes you an invaluable resource for your clients. It also enables you to do the best work possible for them.

Secondly, running your own firm with expense management software allows you to walk the walk and automate those time-consuming tasks that you can’t use for billable hours.

In this post, we’ll go over the best expense management solutions for both you and your clients — especially ones that integrate with your favorite accounting software.

Before you decide on the best expense management solution for you and your clients, it’s important to look at the common challenges facing small businesses and how software can help address those issues to save valuable time and money.

Identify concerns and issues

Which of the following applies to you or your clients?

1. Manual tasks

Eliminating or reducing repetitive manual tasks is one of the top reasons for any small business to invest in expense management software. Doing so frees up time for you and your clients to focus on bigger-picture goals. And according to a data report by Iron Mountain, automating the Accounts Payable process reduces 90 to 95% of paperwork.

That may include:

  • Manual syncing with accounting and bill pay software
  • Manually reviewing expenses one by one
  • Manual expense entry taking valuable time

2. Processing and communication issues

Expenses often get stuck in drawn out approval processes, which is time consuming for employers and frustrating for employees. See which in the following list may apply:

  • Expenses getting stuck in reviews and approvals
  • Waiting for bank statements to categorize and enter expenses into accounting systems
  • Needing to ask employees for the nature of each transaction in order to properly code them
  • Employees holding onto receipts for months on end
  • Slow reimbursements causing complaints

3. Financial tracking

Where is all that money going, and how can it be saved and invested in a smarter way? Spreadsheets rarely provide all the answers. A study by McKinsey found that almost half of respondents said at least 25% of their general and administrative spend was invested in the wrong areas relative to business strategy. Your your client may be experiencing:

  • Lack of visibility over employee spend
  • Lack of insight into quarterly and departmental trends
  • Not easily tracking spend against projects

Prioritize the most important features

Once you’ve identified the issues, it’s time to look for solutions. Every expense management solution has its benefits and drawbacks, whether that’s on features or pricing. What do you or your clients want to prioritize in a solution? You can take any of the points on this list and arrange them from most important to least important to help you decide.

1. Accounting software integration

What is your accounting software of choice? Does your client use the same type of accounting software, or have you recommended it to them? Picking out an expense management solution that seamlessly integrates with the former will prevent needless manual inputting and updates down the road. Look for a solution that helps with:

  • Integrations with bill pay systems
  • Central reviewing for payments
  • Faster reimbursements for employees

When looking for integrations, consider which solutions integrate with some of the most popular accounting and bill pay systems:

2. Speed and convenience

Nobody enjoys the time-consuming nature of manual data entry or desktop-only features. Consider if speed and convenience are a priority to you or your clients. Smart software can also integrate with accounting systems and simplify travel expenses and booking in a way that automatically enforces your travel expense policy.

  • Mobile apps for android and iOS
  • Automated receipt scanning (OCR)
  • Linked business credit cards
  • Automated expense creation
  • Integrated accounting system lists
  • Simplified travel expenses and booking
  • Mileage tracking

3. Workflow and organization

Even within a small company, it’s easy for miscommunication or a lack of protocol to prevent expenses and invoices from being processed quickly. Finding expense management software that bakes in an approval process may make it easier for both you and your clients to speed up approvals and reimbursement times.

You may look for features such as:

  • Approval hierarchy
  • Company organization
  • Non-employee users

4. Expense policy compliance and internal controls

Just like with workflow and organization, a faster process often comes down to good communication. According to the Harvard Business Review, 57% of employees report not being given clear directions, and 69% of managers aren’t comfortable communicating with their employees in general. Built-in features can help clear up some of these issues: 

  • Chat, comment, and in-mail communication
  • Automated policy rules
  • Transparency

5. Credit card transactions

Most small businesses benefit from credit card usage, even if they’re not getting corporate discounts. Check if the expense management software you’re considering has the following:

  • Corporate card transaction integration
  • Corporate card statement reconciliation
  • Card issuing

Once you’re clear on the specific challenges you and your clients are facing, it’s easier to sift through features and decide which ones matter most. Whichever expense management software you choose, automating manual tasks and gaining insights into spend will make a huge impact on day-to-day activities.

Tallie can help

Tallie offers expense management solutions for small businesses with accounting needs in mind. Sign up for a free trial of Tallie, complete with integrations with the accounting system of your choice.