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Expense Reports: How To Digitalise Them [+ FREE Template]

4 minutes reading time

VAT recovery

Like it or not, our daily tasks are becoming more and more digital – fast. For companies, this means new opportunities to do business more efficiently than ever before. In some cases, technology is providing solutions to problems that have existed for decades, holding back productivity and employee satisfaction. Submitting expense reports is one of them. Read on to find an example of an expense report and why digitalising is the answer to practical problems you are experiencing.

How does your company handle expense management and reporting today? Even when working with online accounting and/or financial reporting tools, companies often still follow the same outdated process for expense claims.

The old-school process: paper expense reports

It is likely that some elements of the following process are familiar to you:

  1. After paying for a product or service, employees manually enter expenses into an Excel or Word document.
  2. They then print the document to serve as an expense report.
  3. Then, they must staple the receipts to the expense report as proof of purchase.
  4. Next, employees must sign the expense report and submit it to their supervisor.
  5. If certain expenses are not in line with the company policy, the entire expense report is returned, causing delays.
  6. When the reimbursement is made, the exact amount must be entered into your G/L accounts. This is done manually, running the risk of creating discrepancies.
  7. Ultimately, expense reports and their supporting documents end up in the archive, where they are rarely retrieved (difficult to access) and take up a lot of space.

Does any of this sound familiar? This so-called "paper expense report process" is not only prone to errors due to the quantity of manual data entry, but it is also very time-consuming, costly, and well… annoying.

According to a study from a few years ago, the three main frustrations employees have with expense reports are:

  • The difficulty of keeping track of all the receipts
  • The time it takes to manually draw up an expense report
  • The fact of having to fill in an Excel table.

Would you like to see an example of an expense report up close (before they become completely obsolete)? We have one here for you.

Download your FREE expense report template

Even with high-end accounting, banking or expense report software, there can be gaps in the process. Only a true end-to-end solution like Mobilexpense will genuinely save you time, money, and headaches by automating the entire process. From scanning receipts with your smartphone and approving them, integrating your expense policy, automatically matching transactions with expenses to checking and even reporting.

How to do it better: digital expense reports

Ideally, your digital expense reporting system is:

  • Focused on mobility with a smartphone app.
  • Easy to use.
  • Accessible for employees.
  • An all-rounder, meaning you can add different types of expenses including mileages and daily allowances.
  • Open - your expense reporting software must be able to interface with your existing accounting, payment, and other software.

It helps to keep these points in mind when looking at options for your organisation. If an expense reporting app makes it easier for employees to handle their expense reports, they will not only understand and follow your company policies and processes better, but they will also likely be more satisfied.

How do you digitise expense reports?

The key to success of the entire process lies in the digitisation. Without a simple and effective digitisation process, chances are that the way you deal with expense claims will not change significantly.

To digitise expense receipts, your system must first and foremost be able to deal with different types of receipts: digital receipts, paper receipts and handwritten receipts. This means that your software must also be able to handle online receipts by reading downloaded or uploaded receipts in the same way it does paper receipts.

Paper receipts are usually read by intelligent technology such as OCR (optical character recognition) directly from the camera of your smartphone. Handwritten receipts, on the other hand, still require manual processing, and a good system will offer that option.

Integrate with the right tools

The software you choose to digitise expense reports must, of course, be able to interface with your existing systems, regardless of which ERP, accounting software or payment system your business uses.

Whether it's Egencia, Mastercard, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle, SAP, Personio, VATIT, or any other type of integration, your ideal solution fits perfectly into your digital infrastructure - like Mobilexpense. Discover all our integrations here.

Automate...

By digitising expense reports, you also allow for a certain level of automation. The better expense reporting tools allow you to set rules that are specific to your company. Automatically approving expenses based on type, amount, date, or another parameter becomes possible, saving your financial controllers a lot of time.

...within the right framework

Of course, expense claims are regulated by the tax law of each individual country or jurisdiction. Multinationals and large cross-border teams can sometimes struggle to keep up with these different rules. They may vary in terms of privacy, language or transparency and reporting requirements. Organisations with centralised financial services tend to have an even harder time, despite the other advantages offered by centralisation.

If you are thinking of digitising your expense process (and you should!), it is important to look at the compliance capacity of the solutions you are considering. The best expense reporting tools will have strong compliance know-how and simplify the lives of your cross-border teams.

Conclusion

At first glance, expense reports seem to be a relic of a paper-based past. By digitising them, you can potentially save your company a lot of money and time. It pays to look at the better expense reporting tools that help automate the whole process, integrate with your existing infrastructure, and know the legal framework for your jurisdiction.

How it works step 1

Check out our mobile expense management app in action.

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Posted on 26 Nov 2021

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