Automate Expense Workflows: Integrate Your SMB’s Accounting Systems With Your Expense Reporting Software

How many systems does your small business rely on to run its financial operation smoothly? Expense reporting software, accounting systems, and bill pay systems might be a few. 

Keeping those systems in sync shouldn’t require manual work. But the file uploads and nightly syncs can feel all too familiar, since many accounting systems and expense reporting tools are built to work in a silo. But automated options exist.

Enter: activity-based syncs. Integrations that rely on activity-based syncs will immediately pick up on changes made to list data in your accounting or bill pay system.  

Integrations in Tallie’s expense report software offer the quickest path from receipt to balance sheet. Tallie is the only expense reporting solution to offer a comprehensive integration with Bill.com. It also offers integrations with Sage Intacct, QuickBooks Desktop and Online, Xero, and NetSuite. 

Watch our video on how Tallie syncs with your choice of accounting software.

With its award-winning integrations, Tallie has made it easy to keep your small business’s financials in sync. 

Related: This small business’s guide to finding expense reporting software walks through the features, such as integrations, to look for.

Integrations That Sync In Real Time

An integration with activity-based syncs will record and sync data each time a change happens to list data in your accounting or bill pay system. This sync keeps everything up to date, without manual work required on your end. 

Here’s how Tallie’s activity-based sync benefits you, your small business, and and your team:

Small business leaders can more easily onboard new team members. In your accounting system, create the record for your new employee and/or vendor. When you head to Tallie, the information will be in there. Grant the employee an invite and you’re good to go. 

Employees can track client expenses as soon as your project starts. In your accounting system, input a new client project. It will immediately become available in Tallie, so that employees can track client expenses in Tallie from the get-go. When a project is completed, it will immediately be no longer available in Tallie for expense tracking. 

Your finance and accounting teams can more easily clean up your general ledger. Every once in a while, major restructuring is needed. Your integrated systems shouldn’t attempt to use deactivated or erased accounts; Tallie detects those changes and prompts you to correct issues prior to export.

Tallie Integrations Across Accounting and Bill Pay Systems

Integrations are only as strong as the tools they can integrate with. Tallie’s award-winning integrations extend to: 

How Tallie customers use integrations

Here are a few ways our customers have seen their accounting and expense management processes improve with Tallie.

“Awesome and reliable platform. Reliable integration with QBO. The support pages end users are clear and helpful.” (via G2)

“We love that it connects to Bill.com, which we use to reimburse our clients’ employees! Their QuickBooks integration is great because unlike some other systems, they import each transaction individually with vendor, account, and class data. This makes reconciling credit cards at the end of the month quite easy.” (via Capterra)

“The software is awesome and really supports a fast, electronic, seamless expense reporting process for Quickbooks.” (via Capterra)

Give Tallie and its award-winning integrations a try with our 14-day free trial.

Tallie Versus Expensify: What’s the Value of Using Tallie?

As a user of Expensify, it can feel like you’re paying too much for what amounts to a confusing, fragmented experience. 

While Expensify is a recognized brand name in expense management, its offering is rarely a productive option for small businesses looking for a straightforward, cost-effective solution. As a result, it can be hard for a small business to realize a clear return on investment.

Here’s some good news: Expense management can be streamlined and automated. It can be easy — and it can all be done with straightforward pricing. At least, that’s the case with Tallie’s expense reporting tool that one customer called “objectively excellent.”

“Tallie offers small to midsize businesses that are looking for online/mobile expense management capability at an affordable price,” says one customer on Tallie’s G2 Crowd Page. “Choose Tallie! You can’t go wrong.”

This article explains how Tallie can be an excellent alternative to Expensify for your small business. 

To see the Tallie difference for yourself, sign up for a free trial today.

What’s the Value of Using Tallie Instead of Expensify? 

Ease: An Out-Of-The-Box Solution

Other expense reporting tools may offer supplementary bells and whistles that often distract from the main solutions small businesses look for: 

  1. Automating manual workflows
  2. Reconciling credit cards
  3. Increasing visibility over your expenses
  4. Connecting seamlessly with your accounting systems

Tallie provides out-of-the-box expense management with impact. Our simple user interface supports automation, visibility, and connectivity — it’s as simple as that. 

  • Automate expense reporting. Employees can simply snap receipt images with their phone and let the system populate their expense report for them. 
  • Reconcile credit cards. Connect Tallie to your bank account for any credit card, including corporate credit cards. 
  • Expense reports that build themselves. Tallie can prepare an expense report that matches your statement cycle or automatically build reports as employees upload receipts. 
  • Panoramic view into outstanding spend. Tallie’s Administrator Overview offers visibility into the status of all expenses in the system. 
  • Award-winning accounting integrations with Bill.com, Xero, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop/Enterprise, Sage Intacct, and NetSuite.

As one customer put it on Tallie’s G2 Crowd page: “Tallie is super easy to use and adopt. No training required, you can pretty much explore the interface and learn by using.”

Customer Success That’s “Objectively Excellent”

Questions happen, we get it. It shouldn’t be a challenge to get your questions answered, and you shouldn’t be forced to troubleshoot yourself. Without a direct phone number, Expensify customers can experience challenges in receiving proper support. 

The Tallie team is here to help when you need it; call or email us anytime. We’ve built a Help Center with dozens of articles, videos, PDF user guides, and live trainings. And you have the option to upgrade to our white-glove implementation and additional chat support and guaranteed 2-hour response times. 

Customers can even opt into enhanced service options, like letting Tallie administer your account and approve expenses on your behalf. 

But don’t take it from us. As a customer put it on Tallie’s G2 Crowd page: “The customer support at Tallie is objectively excellent if you have an issue.”

Flexible Pricing That Works for Your Business

Your business deserves clear pricing for its expense reporting tool — it doesn’t need to worry about hidden fees, surprise price hikes, or punitive charges. 

With Expensify, pricing doubles when 50% of company spend is not performed on an Expensify card. Customers report punitive charges in order to cancel subscriptions. The result can mean prices much higher than initially expected. 

At Tallie, we keep things straightforward. You don’t need to worry about doubling rules or hidden charges. Your pricing is tailored to your needs, and scales with your company. Our simple pricing tiers let you choose a plan that meets the needs of your back office — with integrations and active users that can grow alongside you.

Explore how much Tallie would cost for your small business on our pricing page.

Ready to explore how Tallie can help your business? Contact us for a demonstration or sign up for a free trial today.

Why Do I Need Expense Report Software Over Spreadsheets?

More than ever, your small business’s finance and accounting functions are strategic assets. Businesses are generating more data than they ever have before; the ability to make data-backed decisions for your business starts with finance’s ability to parse that data. 

But all too often, these functions are bogged down by manual workflows instead of spending valuable time on those strategic decisions. In fact, 49% of companies still rely on a manual expense management process.

What if we told you that it didn’t have to be this way? 

The right expense reporting software can automate your expense workflows. You’ll increase visibility and control over your expenses, as well as boost productivity thanks to the time saved. Most importantly, you’ll free finance and accounting functions to focus on the business’s big picture.

This article walks through why your expense report software is important, and the impact it can make. You can also download our comprehensive guide to finding expense reporting software. It covers:

  • Calculating the ROI of your solution
  • Features and functionality to look for
  • Questions to ask each solution
  • And more!

Now, on to why you need expense reporting software…

Increase Visibility for Better Decision Making

Your expense reporting software should empower your finance and accounting teams to be a more strategic company resource. Automations to help track expenses, reconcile and manage credit card transactions, pull reports, and gain insights at a granular level across your company help achieve this. Best case, expense reports are just as easy to access on mobile as they are on desktop. Now, instead of pulling reports and sifting through data, finance can easily glean insights that inform business decisions. 

“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

Gain Control Over Expenses

Maintaining policy compliance and reducing the risk of fraud is a common concern for finance teams in regards to business expenses. Expenses are often submitted with missing or incorrect information, or are outside of policy. An expense management solution will help you dramatically increase your control over your data’s accuracy. The solution should have system-triggered rule settings that automatically flag out-of-policy expenses as rule violations. It should also connect directly with your ERP or accounting system (Bill.com, QuickBooks, Sage Intacct, etc.) to decrease the amount of manual work (and human error!) required.

Companies saw a 64% reduction in errors and 40% improvement in policy compliance when using an expense management solution.
— The Aberdeen Group

Boost Employee Productivity to Lower Costs

According to the Aberdeen Group, the average cost of processing a single expense report is $20.65 factoring in the time it takes for a finance team to review, approve, file and reimburse expenses. 

An expense management software can help automate your expense reporting and reduce time across the entire workflow. This is especially true with tools that focus on usability and automation, so employees can quickly enter expenses without major disruptions to their work. Be sure  your expense report software can also connect to corporate credit cards for streamlined credit card reconciliation and management.

You can reduce the cost of processing expenses by nearly 60% when implementing an expense management solution.
— The Aberdeen Group

Why choose Tallie as your expense reporting software

How Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is Transforming Accounting

Optical Character Recognition or OCR is transforming accounting by reducing data entry for accountants. (Use our guide to find the expense reporting software with OCR that’s right for you).

Software with OCR can take on time-consuming tasks, allowing professionals to focus on more value-add activities. But first things first:

What is Optical Character Recognition (OCR)?

Here’s the meaning of OCR: Optical Character Recognition is a technology that extracts text from an image and converts it into editable and searchable data. Think of OCR as a scanner that has evolved far beyond photocopying. OCR can do handwriting recognition, which means it can read and store printed or handwritten text. Handwriting recognition provides a huge benefit to accountants who spend time manually coding documents including receipts, checks, and invoices. Hallelujah!

While OCR has only recently started to disrupt accounting, it is by no means a new technology. Some of the first computerized applications of OCR date back to the 1950s. In 1951, a Department of Defense engineer created an elementary scanner that could interpret Morse Code and read messages aloud. The US post office has used OCR for over thirty years to scan printed or handwritten address labels. As digital cameras and processing software modernized over the past 10 years, the speed and accuracy of OCR has improved. As a result, the applications of OCR have expanded across industries.

While the benefits of OCR in accounting are transformative, enhancements can still be made to how accurately OCR can convert data from both structured and unstructured documents.

Optical Character Recognition and Structured Documents

What is a structured documents? It’s a document that follows a static layout, such as checks. A structured document’s key data is always found in the same place. This standard format is ideal for Optical Character Recognition software.

You’re likely to be familiar with one particular use of OCR and structured documents: Depositing checks using your mobile phone on a bank’s mobile app. The efficient point-and-shoot method of depositing checks is a great first step for OCR. When you snap a picture of your check, OCR knows precisely where to look and what to look for. Checks even use the same block-like font — based on magnetic reader technology — for routing and account numbers.

Having this kind of structure in place dramatically improves the accuracy of OCR in these use cases. However, even despite the uniformity of structured checks, banks still require the user to enter the total check amount, leaving part of the data entry to you.

Tallie Optical Character Recognition

Tallie Optical Character Recognition

Optical Character Recognition and Unstructured Documents

What is an unstructured document? Documents that vary in formatting, such as bills and receipts, are considered unstructured documents. The variation makes these documents difficult for Optical Character Recognition to interpret. Fortunately, we are witnessing a breakthrough moment for unstructured OCR.

Technology titans such as Google and Microsoft are investing heavily in OCR applications. We are beginning to see the gains. For example, Google Translate allows users to take a picture of foreign text, such as a traffic sign or a menu, and receive a translation on the spot.

To share these OCR developments with the broader tech community, Google released Cloud Vision: A smart image analysis tool that gives startups access to OCR technology without having to build the OCR software in-house themselves. Cloud Vision is a win-win for consumers and businesses alike.

Even Oxford University has joined in on the fun, releasing a series of publications on text spotting. The renowned institution has developed a technology that can read words in non-standard fonts and handwritten text, and interpret the information much like our brains do.

OCR Tallie

Optical Character Recognition Map – Tallie

OCR Isn’t Perfect (Yet)

As a result of the ongoing investment, optical character recognition software is beginning to assume more and more data entry responsibilities for accountants. Automating this process will take a significant burden off of accountants. However, the primary obstacle for adoption in our profession is accuracy.

Today, we see OCR accuracy in the 80% to 90% range for unstructured documents and greater than 90% for structured documents. Although imperfect, accountants are beginning to leverage OCR to shift their time from data entry to data review.

For example, OCR within Tallie’s expense reporting tool means that employees simply snap a photo of their receipt and submit their expense report. The rest of their expenses data — such as the merchant, date, and amount — is auto-populated. From there, finance and accounting admins simply review expense reports in one place before approving and sending to accounting and bill pay systems.

This phenomenon will have a lasting and transformative effect on the daily responsibilities of accounting teams.

Want to incorporate OCR into your expense management? Our guide shows you how to find the best expense reporting tool for your business. Download it here.

How to Prevent Per Diem and Expense Report Fraud

Employee expense report fraud is one of the most prevalent dangers to a company’s assets. Even per diem claims have recently come under scrutiny because of several high-profile fraud allegations. How can a company protect itself in the face of a projected $3.5 trillion global loss to fraud each year?

Tallie has written in the past about how to prevent expense report fraud:

We’ve also developed a comprehensive guide to finding expense reporting software that can, among other things, automate your compliance review. Download it here.

But we wanted to revisit this topic on the Tallie Blog to not only share how we can help prevent reimbursement fraud, but per diem abuse as well.

Preventing Per Diem & Expense Report Fraud

What is per diem?

Per diem (meaning “for each day”) allows companies to give a pre-set amount of funds to their employees in advance, rather than reimbursing actual employee expenses for things like meals and lodging.

For example, a $200 per diem would mean that an employee receives $200 to spend on travel expenses that day. By contrast, under an expense reimbursement system, that employee might spend $180.46 on a ticket, submit the amount on their expense report, and be reimbursed for the exact total.

When is per diem a good thing?

As an employee, per diem allows you the freedom to choose how you want to spend the per diem allowance. Let’s say you’re a pretty heavy sleeper, but you can’t stomach the idea of visiting a conference in Maine without trying a lobster dinner. You might choose to stay in a crowded budget motel, leaving more money to put towards your big meal. Of course, some companies specify how much of a per diem can be spent on meals as opposed to lodging or other incidental expenses, so be sure to read the rules before ordering the surf ‘n turf!

As an employer, per diems mean no surprises when the expense report comes in. If you know that your employees will receive X amount of money on X amount of travel days this year, these costs can simply be budgeted in advance. And since your employee has a set maximum for a meal budget, they are less likely to set you back for the cost of a $50 steak or $200 in room service. Any expenditures over the allocated per diem amount must be covered by the employee.

What are the dangers of per diem?

Because hotel and restaurant rates vary based on location, it can be difficult to ensure that the same pre-set amount will be appropriate for every trip. While the GSA provides yearly per diem rates for individual counties in the United States, seasonal prices fluctuate dramatically for both lodging and transportation.

For example, a reasonable rate for traveling in New York City the Saturday before New Year’s Eve is much higher than that for a Wednesday in March.  Some businesses choose to establish on-season and off-season per diem rates for different locations, but these must be constantly checked and updated to remain effective.

Per diems may also inadvertently encourage risky or unethical behavior from your employees. On the one hand, a fixed allowance might motivate your team be frugal with company funds. On the other hand, an employee who wants to pocket any leftover cash from their lodging allowance might choose to stay in a dangerous part of town in order to maximize their payout. Another might ask for per diem to pay for meals at a conference in which lunch and dinner were included with her ticket. The latter is known as “double-dipping,” and may also manifest as employees collecting per diem and then submitting an expense report for reimbursement. Someone might also try to claim that visiting two conferences in separate towns on the same day qualifies for 2x the per diem, while another might leave at 4:00 in the afternoon and ask to be reimbursed for a full day’s worth of meals.

Oftentimes, whether in business or government, receipts are not required to justify per diem use. Without records to show how that money was (or wasn’t) spent, it’s very difficult to prove whether or not food- and lodging-specific funds are being spent appropriately.

Per diems are commonly used by government agencies to provide incentives for legislators to take part in optional committees, events, and special sessions. But a state lawmaker from Pennsylvania is currently in hot water over potential per diem fraud, facing allegations that he deliberately took advantage of the state’s per diem program. Critics cite the fact that even though the House had only 81 days in session, Rep. Sainato logged and received per diems for 192 days on the job. A New Mexico representative was also recently accused of double-dipping her meal expenses–in addition to collecting her per diem, she allegedly sought reimbursement for meals from the state’s funds as well as from her campaign account.

The truth is, whether your company deals in per diems or reimbursable expenses, any system that doesn’t require documentation in the form of receipts is at risk for fraud. But there is good news: with the right system in place, expense abuse can be prevented before it starts.

How can I prevent per diem or expense report fraud?

To set up per diems in Tallie, you must first create a new expense category. Then enter your amount into “Fixed Rate” and map it to the service item or expense account you wish to operate as per diem. Some companies choose to provide a set amount of dollars per day regardless of expense type, while others choose to get more specific. For example, you could choose to set up one new category as “Per Diem – Food” and use a rule to reimburse up to X amount of dollars per employee. You could then set up another as “Per Diem – Lodging,” good for up to Y amount of dollars, and so on. Here we’ve entered $71, the GSA’s required minimum for meal per diems in San Francisco.

Tallie blog expense report per diem

To help prevent abuse, Tallie allows administrators to create policies for each individual expense category, including per diems. If you opt to require receipts for any and all per diem expenses, our smart fraud detection will automatically flag reports that do not provide the appropriate documentation.

Tallie blog expense report per diem

To prevent double-dipping, Tallie can also detect and alert you to potential duplicates, so that the same receipt can not be used to justify multiple meals or hotel stays. By taking advantage of Tallie’s detailed, customized expense report policies, your company can reap the benefits of a per diem system while minimizing the risk.

Only you know whether per diem or expense reimbursement is right for your company. Our job at Tallie is to make sure whatever system you’ve created runs smoothly, efficiently, and safely. For help configuring our features for your chosen accounting system, contact our Product Expert team at support@usetallie.com or 888-874-1118 Ext 2.

Auto-pilot your expense reports FREE for 14 days! Sign up for a fully-functional free trial – no credit card or commitment required. You can also request a walkthrough from a trained expert. Contact our team to schedule your free Tallie product demo at any time.

Making Life Even Easier for Tallie Administrators

The current pandemic has made effective expense management even more critical for all organizations. Understanding the status of unapproved expenses is vital for finance teams and accountants to effectively forecast cash flow, which is essential for organizations to thrive in this challenging economic environment.

That’s why we’re excited to announce the launch of Tallie Administrator Overview, which is available immediately to all Tallie customers as part of their subscription. Tallie Administrator Overview offers a panoramic view into the status of all expenses in the system, even if they haven’t yet been submitted by end-users or approved by managers. 

The solution gives expense administrators straightforward insights into how much employees are spending, and also enables them to understand the status of every employee’s expenses, without having to switch user views. 

Not only can administrators view expenses at each stage, they will also have the ability to remind users to submit expenses, push unsubmitted reports to the approval process, or approve on the managers’ behalf. This ability reduces the potential for organizations to be caught off-guard by large unsubmitted expenses, and the overall insight that Tallie Administrator Overview provides makes it easier for administrators to have a holistic view of all outstanding employee spend, enabling more effective and efficient financial forecasting.

Key features of Tallie Administrator Overview include:

  • Remind users of pending unsubmitted reports and remind approvers to review submitted reports.
  • Submit unfinished expense reports for approval.
  • Approve expense reports on behalf of your assigned approvers
  • Easily sort through expense reports of all states with a variety of criteria, including submission date, amount and approval date.
  • Click on any user’s submitted or unsubmitted expense report to view all transactions.

We’re confident that this new solution will be a big help to all Tallie customers, both as we navigate the current financial climate and as we move forward. To learn more about Tallie Administrator Overview, create a 14-Day Free Trial today!