Find The Right Expense Report Software With Our Buyer’s Guide

Does any of this sound familiar to you or other finance and accounting functions at your small business? 

I want more time to focus on strategy and growing the business, but I’m bogged down by manual work like managing expenses. 

Employee reimbursement takes too long, but we’re moving as fast as we can to compile, review, approve, and reimburse expenses. 

I’m tired of worrying that I’ve missed something when reviewing expenses that may be out of policy and reconciling that data with our accounting systems.

If so, you’re not alone. Forty-nine percent of companies rely on manual expense management processes that can lead to any (or all) of the above challenges. 

Expense report software can help. The right solution can automate your workflows, freeing finance and accounting to focus on the big picture with: 

  • Increased visibility for better decision making backed by data
  • Increased control over expenses, removing human errors and out-of-compliance expenses
  • Lower costs and reduced time spent on expense management — no more manual work

To help you with the search, we’ve created this guide: The small business’s guide to finding expense reporting software

Here’s how this resource will help you find the best software for your small business. 

Calculating costs of expense report software

The guide walks through the benchmark costs for manual expense management, and management via a solution. It also walks through calculation for figuring out what your ROI would look like:

 (Monthly Savings – Business Cost to Process Expense Reports) /

(Business Cost to Process Expense Reports)

Evaluating your current process

Before starting the search for a solution, you need to look internally. What are your current concerns about your expense management process? The guide walks through the process of identifying what you need to solve for, and what you need a solution to help with. For example, here are few questions to get you thinking — more can be found in the guide: 

  • Are expenses getting stuck in the review process? 
  • Do you need to automate the expense workflow of credit card transactions? 
  • After reviewing expenses do you manually categorize and enter them into your accounting software–QuickBooks Online or Desktop, Sage Intacct, Oracle NetSuite?

Features and capabilities to look for

It’s important to understand what features your small business needs most, how they’re best implemented, and how they work in a solution. Our guide walks you through the features to look for. 

Evaluating solutions

It’s finally time to evaluate and select the best expense report software for your small business! We’ve included a handy toolkit with ready-to-use resources for the process, such as worksheets and suggested questions to ask.

Download the buyer’s guide to finding expense report software here. And if you’d like to see how using Tallie’s expense report solution would automate your workflows, start a free trial today. Tallie has transformed the way small businesses manage expenses: 91% of customers say it’s easier to reimburse employees with Tallie, while 93% have said they’ve saided time with Tallie.

Questions to Ask When Evaluating Expense Report Software

Using expense report software can not only lead to clear cost and time saving benefits, but also help reduce human error and fraudulent activity. In fact, companies can reduce the cost of managing expenses by nearly 60% when implementing an expense report solution.

Selecting the solution best suited for your needs will solidify those benefits and increase adoption throughout your small business. 

But how do you pick the best one? 

You can start with an evaluation questionnaire. It will include the questions to ask each solution you consider, so be sure to ask the same questions to each solution you are considering. That way, you can gather information consistently and compare your findings easily. 

We’ve drafted a suggested evaluation questionnaire for expense report software below. If you’d like a full solution evaluation tool kit, download our free guide.

Evaluation Questionnaire for Expense Report Software

Solution Structure and Basic Features

  • Can I create custom expense level fields and team level fields to filter and report on expenses?
  • Are reports created automatically from expenses? 
  • Can I create dynamic, custom reports?
  • Can I tie individual expenses to events, clients, projects, etc.? 
  • Can I customize my approval process?
  • Do you offer direct deposit to employee bank accounts for reimbursements? 
  • How long do funds usually take to be received by the employee?
  • Do you offer travel booking and travel expense management within your system?
  • What security features do you have to protect bank account and credit card information?

Expense Policy

  • Can I automate my expense policy by building granular rules?
  • Can I build rules off of any standard or custom field? 
  • Can I build rules off of a combination of fields?
  • Can I set rules and budgets down to the employee, category, time period, etc.?
  • Can I choose whether I want to warn a user or block an expense from being submitted if it’s in violation of a rule?
  • What tools do you offer inside the platform to communicate with employees? 
  • Is employee communication attached to the individual expense that it refers to?

Managing Corporate Cards

  • What tools do you offer to help me manage my corporate card program?
  • Do you offer card issuing through your system?
  • What will my monthly reconciliation process look like?
  • Is there a way to manage outstanding expenses on corporate cards?

Extracting Data

  • What accounting software do you sync with?
  • How often is data synced over? What triggers data to be synced?
  • Do you match the synced expenses to the associated debits in my accounting software?
  • Can I export my data? Can I select what fields are exported? What file types are supported?
  • How long is data stored?
  • How is data accessed in the event of an audit?

Mobile

  • Do you have a mobile app for both Android and iOS?
  • What features are available in mobile?

Additional Questions

  • Do you offer a free trial? For how long?
  • Is any feature or capability unavailable during the trial?
  • How is your pricing structured? What price point would I fall into based on my needs?

Get the full evaluation toolkit in our guide to finding expense report software

Credit Card Transaction Management: How Expense Reporting Software Helps

Business expenses incurred on credit cards are increasingly common. Employees make out-of-pocket personal card charges that they pass on to an employer for reimbursement. Or employees use corporate cards issued by the business to make non-reimbursable charges. 

But keeping accurate records of each charge can be difficult without manually reviewing and approving each charge.

What if there was a better way? A more automated way? 

Your expense reporting software can help with credit card transaction management. Here is just some of the functionality to look for. 

Pro Tip: If you need a comprehensive list of features to look for in expense reporting software, we’ve got you covered. Download our free guide to finding expense reporting software.

Credit Card Transaction Management: Features to Look For

Corporate Card Statement Imports

Your solution should be able to import corporate credit card data by:

✔ Setting up auto import;

✔ Uploading a credit card statement; or

✔ Uploading a credit card bank file with sub-accounts

Look for a central view into issued corporate cards to see unexpensed transactions before month’s end. The ability to distinguish reimbursable and non-reimbursable expenses will help determine employee payment and support clean reporting.

Corporate Card Statement Reconciliation

Rather than manually coding credit card transactions, your software should enable a check-and-confirm management experience that eliminates hours of work on monthly reconciliation. 

Once your company is pulling in credit card transactions, your software should be able to:

  • Auto-categorize expenses that come in
  • Mark expenses as possible duplicates
  • Auto-match receipts with transactions
  • Set up rules for classifying or categorizing transactions

This transforms the laborious multi-day credit card transaction coding experience into a check-and-confirm management experience that takes just minutes out of your cardholders’ day at the end of the statement period.

Card Issuing

Your solution should allow companies to issue virtual and physical cards to their employees that draw from the company funds. This gives your company end-to-end control over employee expenses.

Issued right from within Tallie, administrators can set spending rules for where, when, and how much an employee can spend for approved expenses. The company can then kick off automated expense reconciliation after a card is swiped. Think of it like a debit card that gives you more control with preset rules that’s connected to the software you use for expense management. 

Related: Get our handy evaluation toolkit here to help you find the best solution for your small business. 

Approval Workflows

Want a catch-all, default approval workflow? Or, looking for the option to set up multiple levels of approvals? Your expense reporting software should allow you to do either. 

With approval workflows, each expense can pass through a variety of approval controls specified by your company. Your software should be able to:

  • Configure manager approvers on an employee basis
  • Create a global approver whose sign off is required on all expenses
  • Automate approval routing based on spend, project, or management structure

As an approver, you should be able to see all outstanding expenses routed to you at a glance. 

As a result, you can trust that each credit card transaction is being routed to the right person, at the right time for approvals. 

Integrations with Accounting Software

Your software should connect directly to your accounting or bill pay systems. Ideally, it should do so through automated syncs — removing the need for manual syncs on your end. 

These integrations mean your software delivers fully coded expense data directly into your accounting or bill pay system in your preferred format, including bills, checks, expense reports… and credit card transactions. 

As a result, you can trust that your accounting and reimbursements are accurately taking credit card transactions into account.

Find Your Expense Reporting Software

Our how-to guide walks you through the process of finding the right solution for your business. It includes: 

  • ROI calculations for your next solution
  • Features to look for
  • An interactive evaluation toolkit

Download the buyer’s guide to expense reporting software.

The Small Business’s Guide to Finding Expense Report Software

If you’re finding that manually managing business expenses takes too much time, you’re not alone. Forty-nine percent of companies still rely on a manual expense management process.

The right expense reporting software automates your workflows, freeing finance and accounting to focus on the big picture. This article dives deeply into the process of finding the right software for your small business. Or, you can download the PDF version with interactive worksheets here.

Why you need expense report software

✓ Increase visibility for better decision making backed by data

By 2025, the world’s volume of data will expand tenfold. We increasingly need tools to help us parse through that data.

✓ Gain control over expenses to keep costs low

Companies saw a 64% reduction in errors and 40% improvement in policy compliance when using an expense reporting solution, according to the Aberdeen Group.

✓ Lower costs and reduce time spent on expense management

Reduce the cost of processing expenses by nearly 60% when implementing an expense reporting solution, according to the Aberdeen Group.

“In the past, organizations looked to the CFO to ensure the financials of the company were accurate. Today, with the increase of data across organizations, CFOs are looked upon to advise leaders as they plan out the strategic future of the company.”

— Adaptive Insights CFO Jim Johnson, as told to Forbes

Step 1: Evaluate Your Current Process

Outline your current concerns about your expense management process before you start evaluating solutions. Then, identify what you need from a tool to address that challenge. It will be much easier to compare tools and your process will be much smoother. 

Outlining concerns and needs

Here are some examples of common concerns for small businesses regarding their expense management.

  • Concern: Manual syncs with accounting and bill pay software
    • Need: Seamless integrations with accounting software
  • Concern: Manually reviewing expenses one by one
    • Need: Automation that enforces expense policy rules
  • Concern: Expenses getting stuck in reviews and approvals
    • Need: The ability to set approval workflows
  • Concern: Manual expense entry taking valuable time
    • Need: Management of corporate card programs
  • Concern: Waiting for bank statements to categorize and enter expenses into accounting systems
    • Need: Automatic syncs with accounting systems and credit cards
  • Concern: Asking employees for the nature of each transaction in order to properly code them
    • Need: Automation that enforces expense policy rules and employee expense submission that captures receipt data.
  • Concern: Slow reimbursements causing complaints
    • Need: To bill expenses back to clients and track and reimburse travel spend
  • Concern: Lack of visibility over employee spend
    • Need: Tracking spend against projects
  • Concern: Employees holding onto receipts for months on end
    • Need: Easy employee expense submissions and reimbursements

Step 2: Look for the right features & functionality for your small business

As you evaluate solutions with your list of needs and requirements, be sure to understand what features are available, how they’re best implemented, and how they work in the solution.

Submitting and Approving Expenses

Speed and Convenience

Mobile apps for Android and iOS

Capture expenses as they happen for better data from employees. Reviewing and approving expenses from an app is more convenient for managers and expedites bookkeeping.

Automated receipt scanning (OCR)

This feature uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) algorithms to identify key expense data for import in seconds. 

Linked business credit cards

Syncing a card speeds up the submission process, and leads to easy and streamlined approvals. 

Automated expense creation

Look for features such as matching receipts to card feed transactions, reading receipt data, auto-drafting and suggesting expenses, and categorizing expenses based on past behavior.

Integrated accounting system lists

Seek out accounting system integrations with an “activity-based sync.” Your expense reporting software will immediately pick up on changes made to list data in your accounting or bill pay system. 

Simplified travel expenses and booking

In addition to a user-friendly travel booking experience, look for integration with expenses, automatic enforcing of your expense policy, and travel-specific dashboards or reporting.

Mileage tracking

For frequent travelers, mileage tracking can be a frustrating, manual process. Look for a solution that can track and calculate mileage for employees — employees just need to hit “start” and “stop,” and enter their departure and destination addresses. 

Workflow and Organization

Approval hierarchy

Look for the ability to add levels of approval, such as a user manager, project manager, or monetary threshold. This helps control departmental spend and improve policy oversight.

Company organization

Be sure you can group employees by department, teams, and projects. This will affect how your policy is applied, the automation rules you can create, reporting, and accounting syncs.

Non-employee users

You may need the flexibility to invite users outside of your small business for actions such as providing access to your accountant, paying contractors, or reimbursing interview candidates.

Credit Card Transaction Management

Corporate Card Transaction Integration

Your solution should be able to import corporate credit card data by:

✔ Setting up auto import;

✔ Uploading a credit card statement; or

✔ Uploading a credit card bank file with sub-accounts

Look for a central view into issued corporate cards to see unexpensed transactions before month’s end. (Your data should only be entered once reconciled, ideally through a report that matches the card statement.) The ability to distinguish reimbursable and non-reimbursable expenses will help determine employee payment and support clean reporting.

Corporate Card Statement Reconciliation

Rather than manually coding credit card transactions, your software should enable a check-and-confirm management experience that eliminates hours of work on monthly reconciliation. Once your company is pulling in credit card transactions, your software should be able to auto-categorize the expenses that come in. It should also have functionality that can mark expenses as possible duplicates. 

Card Issuing

Your solution should allow companies to issue virtual and physical cards to their employees that draw from the company funds. This gives your company end-to-end control over employee expenses.

Issued from your solution, administrators can set spending rules for where, when, and how much an employee can spend for approved expenses. The company can then kick off automated expense reconciliation after a card is swiped. Think of it like a debit card with preset rules that’s connected to the software you use for expense management. 

Expense Policy Compliance & Internal Controls

Your solution can help enforce your expense policy by solving communication challenges and automating policy enforcement.

Communication

The majority of issues causing expenses to be rejected are often cleared up with a simple question or additional information. Use a solution that makes communication more efficient — and, ideally, ties each communication to the expense it relates to. 

Look for:

  • Chat
  • Commenting
  • In-mail

Automated Policy Rules

A solution’s system-triggered rules can allow you to catch issues before expenses are even submitted and set up card issuing without a hitch.

Look for policy rules that boost compliance by automating your expense policy to prevent or warn of out-of-policy expenses before they’re submitted. 

Examples of commonly automated rules are requiring a receipt for any expense over $75 and setting a daily budget for meals when traveling.

Transparency

An expense management tool should provide you with a place to store your written expense policy, while helping you implement rules and communicate about specific expenses.

Integrations With Accounting Software

Any tool that you add to your finance toolkit should work well within your existing ecosystem. Your expense reporting solution’s data should automatically flow into your accounting software, matching expense categories to your existing chart of accounts and mapping custom expense fields like customer or department. Your integration should also help automate bookkeeping by matching and reconciling expenses with bank debits.

Also, be sure that you can download your expense data as a .csv or PDF file. 

Reporting and Analytics

Finance is being asked more than ever to produce data and insights to help companies make strategic business decisions. In fact, five of the top 10 threats cited by CEOs are financial in scope:

  1. Uncertain economic growth
  2. Over-regulation
  3. Exchange-rate volatility
  4. An increasing tax burden
  5. Social instability. 

The information from company expenses is valuable data. And finance functions are critical to providing insights on navigating these threats. 

Reporting & Data Tracking

Your reporting should help you provide context and tell a story about topics such as return on marketing spend, customer acquisition and retention costs, and spend by project. It should also index expenses individually, storing data in individual fields. This will allow you to pivot your spend data to add context to strategic decisions. 

Look for software that:

  • Sorts data based on merchant, category, user, class, project, etc. over any time period
  • Syncs and tracks data from your integrations, such as your accounting system

Audit Preparedness

Source documentation and soft copies of expense reports with approval history should be automatically sent to your system of record, such as your accounting system or bill pay system.

Support

There will always be times when you or your team needs assistance or has questions.

Consultative Services

If you want a team to lean on, consider a solution that offers services like:

  • Administrative services that manage day-to-day operations and system changes of your expense reporting tool, while providing best practices. 
  • Approval services that can offload the approval process from your in-house team, to ensure compliance and protect internal relationships. 

Customer Support

Reach out to Support as if you were a customer. Make sure your concerns are addressed in a time period that you feel is appropriate. 

Look at a solution’s social media channels and phone, chat, and email availability.

Also take a look at customer reviews on sites like G2 Crowd and Capterra. 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review — what other customers say can play an important role in your decision.

If you anticipate needing faster, in-depth support for urgent matters, research whether premium support is an option too.

Documentation

The ability to troubleshoot issues will help you keep your expense report software up and running. Proper documentation and videos should be available to get you through common issues and questions, for both you and your team.

Before you purchase, comb through the support documentation. Does it seem helpful? Is it easy to understand? Read through any FAQs. 

Reimbursements and Cash Flow Management

Your solution should make reimbursing employees as easy as possible. Look for integrations with bill pay systems, such as Bill.com, that provide a central place for reviewing all payments — both for expense management and accounts payable.

Employees’ experience and wait time for funds is an important — often overlooked — consideration for reimbursing expenses. Real time systems can initiate reimbursements as often as you approve individual expenses — meaning employees can get quickly reimbursed.

Step 3: Evaluate solutions

There are clear cost and time saving benefits when using expense report software. Selecting the one best suited for your needs will solidify those benefits and increase adoption throughout your small business.

Our PDF version of this guide has 2 interactive evaluation worksheets that can help get you started:

  1. A pre-evaluation worksheet to make sure you’re internally aligned.
  2. A feature evaluation worksheet to make sure you’d get the features you need.

In addition, consider asking each solution the same questions. This will ensure you can compare answers equally as you evaluate. Here are suggested questions to ask:

Solution Structure and Basic Features

  • Can I create custom expense level fields and team level fields to filter and report on expenses?
  • Are reports created automatically from expenses? 
  • Can I create dynamic, custom reports?
  • Can I tie individual expenses to events, clients, projects, etc.? 
  • Can I customize my approval process?
  • Do you offer direct deposit to employee bank accounts for reimbursements? 
  • How long do funds usually take to be received by the employee?
  • Do you offer travel booking and travel expense management within your system?
  • What security features do you have to protect bank account and credit card information?

Expense Policy

  • Can I automate my expense policy by building granular rules?
  • Can I build rules off of any standard or custom field? 
  • Can I build rules off of a combination of fields?
  • Can I set rules and budgets down to the employee, category, time period, etc.?
  • Can I choose whether I want to warn a user or block an expense from being submitted if it’s in violation of a rule?
  • What tools do you offer inside the platform to communicate with employees? 
  • Is employee communication attached to the individual expense that it refers to?

Managing Corporate Cards

  • What tools do you offer to help me manage my corporate card program?
  • Do you offer card issuing through your system?
  • What will my monthly reconciliation process look like?
  • Is there a way to manage outstanding expenses on corporate cards?

Extracting Data

  • What accounting software do you sync with?
  • How often is data synced over? What triggers data to be synced?
  • Do you match the synced expenses to the associated debits in my accounting software?
  • Can I export my data? Can I select what fields are exported? What file types are supported?
  • How long is data stored?
  • How is data accessed in the event of an audit?

Mobile

  • Do you have a mobile app for both Android and iOS?
  • What features are available in mobile?

Additional Questions

  • Do you offer a free trial? For how long?
  • Is any feature or capability unavailable during the trial?
  • How is your pricing structured? What price point would I fall into based on my needs?

Features to Look For in Your Expense Report Software

Looking for expense report software for your small business? As you evaluate solutions, you’ll want to understand what features are available across platforms, how they’re best implemented, and how they work in the solution.

To get you started, we’ve gathered our suggestions of the key features and functionality to look for below. We’ve also created a comprehensive guide to finding the right expense report software. You can download it here.

Expense Report Software Features & Functionality

Submitting and Approving Expenses

Speed and Convenience

Mobile apps for Android and iOS

Capture expenses as they happen for better data from employees. Reviewing and approving expenses from an app is more convenient for managers and expedites bookkeeping.

Automated receipt scanning (OCR)

This feature uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) algorithms to identify key expense data for import in seconds. 

Linked business credit cards

Syncing a card speeds up the submission process, and leads to easy and streamlined approvals. 

Automated expense creation

Look for features such as matching receipts to card feed transactions, reading receipt data, auto-drafting and suggesting expenses, and categorizing expenses based on past behavior.

Integrated accounting system lists

Seek out accounting system integrations with an “activity-based sync.” Your expense reporting software will immediately pick up on changes made to list data in your accounting or bill pay system. 

Simplified travel expenses and booking

In addition to a user-friendly travel booking experience, look for integration with expenses, automatic enforcing of your expense policy, and travel-specific dashboards or reporting.

Mileage tracking

For frequent travelers, mileage tracking can be a frustrating, manual process. Look for a solution that can track and calculate mileage for employees — employees just need to hit “start” and “stop,” and enter their departure and destination addresses. 

Workflow and Organization

Approval hierarchy

Look for the ability to add levels of approval, such as a user manager, project manager, or monetary threshold. This helps control departmental spend and improve policy oversight.

Company organization

Be sure you can group employees by department, teams, and projects. This will affect how your policy is applied, the automation rules you can create, reporting, and accounting syncs.

Non-employee users

You may need the flexibility to invite users outside of your small business for actions such as providing access to your accountant, paying contractors, or reimbursing interview candidates.

Credit Card Transaction Management

Corporate Card Transaction Integration

Your solution should be able to import corporate credit card data by:

✔ Setting up auto import;

✔ Uploading a credit card statement; or

✔ Uploading a credit card bank file with sub-accounts

Look for a central view into issued corporate cards to see unexpensed transactions before month’s end. (Your data should only be entered once reconciled, ideally through a report that matches the card statement.) The ability to distinguish reimbursable and non-reimbursable expenses will help determine employee payment and support clean reporting.

Corporate Card Statement Reconciliation

Rather than manually coding credit card transactions, your software should enable a check-and-confirm management experience that eliminates hours of work on monthly reconciliation. Once your company is pulling in credit card transactions, your software should be able to auto-categorize the expenses that come in. It should also have functionality that can mark expenses as possible duplicates. 

Card Issuing

Your solution should allow companies to issue virtual and physical cards to their employees that draw from the company funds. This gives your company end-to-end control over employee expenses.

Issued from your solution, administrators can set spending rules for where, when, and how much an employee can spend for approved expenses. The company can then kick off automated expense reconciliation after a card is swiped. Think of it like a debit card with preset rules that’s connected to the software you use for expense management. 

Related: Get our handy evaluation toolkit here to help you find the best solution for your small business. 

Expense Policy Compliance & Internal Controls

Your solution can help enforce your expense policy by solving communication challenges and automating policy enforcement.

Communication

The majority of issues causing expenses to be rejected are often cleared up with a simple question or additional information. Use a solution that makes communication more efficient — and, ideally, ties each communication to the expense it relates to. Look for:

  • Chat
  • Commenting
  • In-mail

Automated Policy Rules

A solution’s system-triggered rules can allow you to catch issues before expenses are even submitted and set up card issuing without a hitch.

Look for policy rules that boost compliance by automating your expense policy to prevent or warn of out-of-policy expenses before they’re submitted. 

Transparency

An expense management tool should provide you with a place to store your written expense policy, while helping you implement rules and communicate about specific expenses.

Integrations With Accounting Software

Any tool that you add to your finance toolkit should work well within your existing ecosystem. Your expense reporting solution’s data should automatically flow into your accounting software, matching expense categories to your existing chart of accounts and mapping custom expense fields like customer or department. Your integration should also help automate bookkeeping by matching and reconciling expenses with bank debits.

Also, be sure that you can download your expense data as a .csv or PDF file. 

Reporting and Analytics

Finance is being asked more than ever to produce data and insights to help companies make strategic business decisions. The information from company expenses is valuable data. 

Reporting & Data Tracking

Your reporting should help you provide context and tell a story about topics such as return on marketing spend, customer acquisition and retention costs, and spend by project. It should also index expenses individually, storing data in individual fields. This will allow you to pivot your spend data to add context to strategic decisions. 

Look for software that:

  • Sorts data based on merchant, category, user, class, project, etc. over any time period
  • Syncs and tracks data from your integrations, such as your accounting system

Audit Preparedness

Source documentation and soft copies of expense reports with approval history should be automatically sent to your system of record, such as your accounting system or bill pay system.

Support

There will always be times when you or your team needs assistance or has questions.

Consultative Services

If you want a team to lean on, consider a solution that offers services like:

  • Administrative services that manage day-to-day operations and system changes of your expense reporting tool, while providing best practices. 
  • Approval services that can offload the approval process from your in-house team, to ensure compliance and protect internal relationships. 

Customer Support

Reach out to Support as if you were a customer. Make sure your concerns are addressed in a time period that you feel is appropriate. 

Look at a solution’s

  • Social media channels
  • Reviews on sites like G2 Crowd and Capterra
  • Phone, chat, and email availability

If you anticipate needing faster, in-depth support for urgent matters, research whether premium support is an option too.

Documentation

The ability to troubleshoot issues will help you keep your expense report software up and running. Proper documentation and videos should be available to get you through common issues and questions, for both you and your team.

Before you purchase, comb through the support documentation. Does it seem helpful? Is it easy to understand? Read through any FAQs. 

Reimbursements and Cash Flow Management

Your solution should make reimbursing employees as easy as possible. Look for integrations with bill pay systems, such as Bill.com, that provide a central place for reviewing all payments — both for expense management and accounts payable.

Employees’ experience and wait time for funds is an important — often overlooked — consideration for reimbursing expenses. Real time systems can initiate reimbursements as often as you approve individual expenses — meaning employees can get quickly reimbursed. 

Ready to take the next step in your search? Our guide has a solution evaluation toolkit, complete with a pre-evaluation worksheet, feature evaluation worksheet, and questions to ask. Download it here.

Calculate the ROI of Your Expense Report Software

The expense report process can be notoriously time consuming. Manually submitting, reviewing, reimbursing, and recording expenses adds up. For a small business — often with finance teams that wear many hats — that time can add up.

Expense reporting software can automate many parts of the process, saving you time and money down the road. So if you’re wondering whether to make the switch to expense reporting software for your small business, then understanding the return on investment of a solution is a good place to start. 

And if you’re looking for expense reporting software, our guide walks you through the process

The ROI of Expense Management Solutions

If you’re interested in a general idea of ROI for an expense management solution and don’t want to spend the time analyzing internal costs, The Aberdeen Group published data on averages for expense report processing:

  1. Average business cost to process a single expense report without expense report software is $20.65
  2. Average of 1.5 expense reports submitted per employee per month
  3. Average business cost to process a single expense report with expense report software is $7.50

Calculating the ROI of Expense Management Solutions

The basic ROI calculation is:

(Monthly Savings – Business Cost to Process Expense Reports)
————————————————————————
(Business Cost to Process Expense Reports)

To find out your monthly savings, you’ll need to know what your current average cost per month is to process your expense reports. If you don’t have this data and want to use Aberdeen’s data, multiply the industry average to process a single expense report by the number of expense reports you process per month (again, you can use the industry average per employee and multiply it by how many employees you have if you don’t know).

Current Monthly Processing Costs

(current cost to process a single expense report)
X
(# of expense reports processed per month)

Next, figure out what it would cost with an expense management solution in place to process your monthly expenses. This will be based around some assumptions of how much time you think you’ll save from your current way of doing things, or again, you can use Aberdeen’s data.

New Monthly Processing Costs

(new cost to process a single expense report)
X
(# of expense reports processed per month)

Subtract the new costs from the current costs to get an understanding of your monthly savings.

Finally, you can calculate how much of a return on investment an expense management solution would be by subtracting the new monthly processing costs from your savings and dividing the total by your new monthly cost. In other words what you want to know is, yes the costs are lower per month, but is the difference worth the effort?

Using Aberdeen’s data, the ROI calculation would look like this for a company with 150 employees:

[$20.65 x (150 x 1.5)] = Current Monthly Processing Costs of $4,646.25

[$7.50 x (150 x 1.5)] = New Monthly Processing Costs of $1,687.50

[$4,646.25] – [$1,687.50] = $2,958.75 in monthly savings

or an ROI of ($2,958.75 – $1,687.50) / $1,687.50 = 75%

This translates to saving almost $3,000 a month on processing costs: meaning the investment in a new system will return 175% of what you paid.

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