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How do I submit an expense report?

Many companies are still using manual spreadsheets and paper receipts to submit expense “reports”. If your business uses spreadsheets, you can fill in a detailed spreadsheet and attach the spreadsheet to an email with the appropriate documentation and send it to the designated approver. Or your business might use an online tool for submitting expense “reports” which collates a number of different expense items into one report.

Calculating expenses

However, this process is time-consuming and leaves rooms for errors that will cost you even more time spent on manual correction. Because this is such a time-consuming task, it’s typically done once a month, or even once a quarter, ultimately undermining financial reporting by submitting expenses months’ late. Precisely how it’s completed depends on your business specific details, but below are the general steps.

1. First, be sure to thoroughly review your business policy about filling out expense reports

This may be in the form of a travel policy guide or a separate manual. Ensure that you have the most up-to-date version and reach out to your manager or Finance department for assistance, if needed.

2. Start a new expense report and review it thoroughly to ensure that you have gathered the appropriate documents before you begin

For most people, this will be all of the business expense receipts with clear and legible details and amounts, as well as a paper or online copy of the expense report.

3. Once you’ve gathered all of your receipts, organise them by date and type of expense.

Separate them into piles by date, and then the expense type. For example: all of your March 3rd expenses should be in one pile, but your meals from that day should be separate from your accommodation costs.

4. Fill in the expense report with your name, date, the trip purpose, and record the expenses on the day or week that they were incurred, depending on your form

Be sure that the receipts match your report, minus any personal expenditure that may be on the receipts, if applicable. Record any other information that the form is requesting in order to make it as complete as possible.

5. Record all totals for the expenses including transportation, fees, rentals, and other expenditures

Ensure that your totals match your receipts. Fill in any additional details or explanations as needed.

6. Once you’ve reviewed your report for accuracy, sign and date your expense report, attach your receipts to it, and submit the report to your supervisor or appropriate accounting department, as needed.

Is there a better alternative to manually submitting an expenses report?

Expenses management automation software that can allow you to simply snap photos of your receipts and uses OCR (optimal character recognition) technology to extract and populate the data automatically. In addition, the software can attach your booking details to key trip data, which saves you the hassle of manually entering the business trip, need, and details of every single expense. This is a drastic improvement over the monthly model. When items are submitted as you spend, it not only saves you a significant amount of time on administration and expense reporting, it also allows your business to see and respond to the data in real-time.

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