How to select the right expense management software for your business

Catherine Nottage
Catherine Nottage

May 5 ∙ 5 minutes read

The best way to track employee expenses is using automated expense management software. But choosing from the available options can be confusing. So what should you be looking for when it comes to expense management software, in order to choose well for your business?

1. Ensure it’s available anytime, anywhere, anyhow

Today’s always-on world means that your employees expect your work systems to be always available at any time, wherever they are and however they want to access them be it their phone, tablet or computer. Expense management is no different. Choosing cloud-based, mobile-enabled expense management software means that employees can submit expenses on the go, managers can approve them no matter where they are and finance can see things happening in real-time.

2. Flexible to adapt to your company’s expense policy

Any expense management software that you choose should allow you to build in the approval processes and workflows required to fit with your company’s expense policy, but also should be flexible enough to adapt to changes in policy quickly and easily.

3. Automates expense claims

Who wants to trawl through all their receipts, manually entering data and submitting claims at the end of every month or quarter? It’s no wonder expense processes and systems are often unpopular with employees. The better option is to have expenses for travel bookings like flights, hotels, trains automatically created with all the relevant information once the bookings are made. The expense then just needs a quick check before submitting.

Even when out on the road, paying for food, beverages or other incidental expenses, software that allows you to import corporate card or personal card transactions easily saves time and automates the expense claim process. And if your team just needs to submit a receipt, then software that uses OCR scanning can extract all relevant information from receipts and pre-populate the expense claim.

4. Integrates with your current systems

You don’t want to have to navigate through multiple systems to manage your expenses. And considering your travellers are most likely to be those in commercial roles you want to ensure that your expense management software integrates with your customer relationship management software. Your commercial teams live in your CRM system, so including expense management there means one less place to go – and one less password to remember.

Even better is if travel management and expense management sit together in the same place. Given the time that’s required between booking, travelling, reporting on and reconciling expenses, having siloed systems exhausts your travellers and accounting teams and also risks errors with data spread across too many systems.

It’s essential for speedy reimbursement, and for accounting purposes that your expense management system also integrates with your financial systems. Having end-to-end expense accounting where claims can be made and automatically sent to your payment system saves everyone time and makes for a better employee experience.

5. Ability to leverage your expenses data to support business goals

You need to make sure that your expense management software’s reporting and analytics capabilities help you maintain visibility of expense costs in real-time and against business outcomes. Having expenses isolated from other company data – like customer, campaign or project data – leaves holes in your understanding. Companies will need to understand whether they’re travelling too much, or too little and the impact of that on the bottom line – and the best way to do that is keep your expense and travel data in the same place as your customer or prospect data.

Expense management software should allow you to collect and analyse the most critical data from the business, align it to business goals and manage expenses against revenue and ROI.

6. Ensure reporting capabilities offer real-time views of expense spend

Expense management software with in-built reporting and analytic capabilities – that you can access on demand without having to buy back your data – will be crucial. Real-time expense insights provide valuable data to Management and Finance teams, allowing businesses to see which activities are incurring expenses and whether those expenses are leading to profitable outcomes. It allows teams to track and predict how future expense spending should be directed, which will become even more important when business travel picks up after the Covid-19 pandemic. Travel expenses in particular will be more meticulously reviewed before approving, so having the ability to see a real-time view of actual and future spending will be essential.

Why use expense management software?

Expense management software is an essential element of any organisation’s software stack. Managing expenses on spreadsheets or paper-based approvals wastes everyone’s time and risks manual errors both on the employees’ submissions and finance tracking and reimbursement.

Expense management software brings greater control all round, enables robust fraud detection and helps compliance with expense policies. With built-in real-time analytics, managers can drill down into business expenses and understand their contribution to the bottom line.

Catherine Nottage

Catherine Nottage