Expense Management refers to software designed to submit, process, reimburse, and track employee expenses. The software includes abilities for employees to input expenses for approval through a browser or mobile application. Administrators can track expense reports, enforce company policies for expenses and travel, set up approval routings, and generate reports for specific projects or company departments. In addition, some softwares provide tools to help book and manage travel itineraries.
What is Expense Management Software?
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G2 Crowd Grid for Expense Management
Buying Considerations in Expense Management Software
- Suite vs. best of breed
- There are few vendors that focus primarily on expense management. However, many suite products have expense reporting features. For example, PSA (Professional Services Automation) suite software usually includes expense management but also offers time reporting, resource management, billing, project financials, and advanced reporting features. Some vendors offer a lighter version of PSA that focuses on both time and expense reporting. These softwares provide expense features and features that allow employees create time sheets for an hourly paid workforce and often functionality to bill time to clients as well.
- Also, most ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or accounting software offer expense reporting features. If you are already using an ERP system, expense reporting features are likely part of the system. If one of the suite tools meets your requirements, you may save money purchasing and maintaining an additional system. In addition, you might reduce the amount of integration required to implement the system.
- Size of company
- Small companies often desire an expense software that is easy to learn and offers a wide variety of features but only handles the most common use cases. Small companies should look for tools that have standard, easy-to-implement integrations with their existing accounting software.
- Larger companies often seek a tool that handles more complex use cases, but in turn usually takes longer to implement and requires more training. In larger companies, custom integration to ERP, accounting and CRM softwares is required so a flexible API is important. Because policies and workflows often vary across roles, departments and international regions, the administration platform must be more flexible. Also, companies that have divisions in international locations are often required to report expenses in different ways to meet local government regulations.
- Companies that have a professional services component (bill clients for their time or projects) will want to consider a software that contains PSA features. In addition to expense management, PSA software offers time reporting, resource management, billing, project financials, and advanced reporting features.
- Some of the biggest changes in expense software have been supporting the most common mobile platforms. Because expense reports are often created for expenses incurred while traveling, features for reporting expenses on a mobile device has moved from nice-to-have to a must. The most popular mobile features are receipt capture and approvals; however, some tools allow you to complete and submit entire expense reports via the mobile app. Make sure you get a demo or free trial of the mobile application to ensure they will meet your requirements and user experience expectations.
- Travel management vs expense management
- A few tools not only manage expense reports but also serve as a virtual travel agent. These tools help you book your travel and manage your itinerary while you are on the road.
- Cloud vs. on premise
- Cloud expense management tools offer a Software as a Service pricing model and work inside a browser. On-premise expense tools are installed on hardware owned and maintained by the customer.
- Most of the new expense management tools were born in the cloud. Cloud pricing models vary from user fees per month to active user fees per month to the number of receipts submitted. Cloud tools are easy to implement, don’t require hardware investments, and allow you to pay overtime based on usage. Often cloud expense tools have difficulty providing robust offline functionality that allows you to complete reports and access past reports while disconnected from the Internet.
- On premise
- Most customers who use on-premise tools purchase a perpetual license based on the number of users and pay an annual maintenance fee. On-premise tools might be client-server tools that require a software to be installed in each user’s PC or might be browser based. On-premise tools require IT support to install and maintain, and also require investments in hardware
Key Benefits of Expense Management Software
- Improved productivity - Productivity is improved for managers and expense report submitters, including reductions in time spent enforcing policies, completing and approving reports, submitting receipts, and reimbursing employees.
- Reduce expense spending - Better policy enforcement, preventing expense entry errors, and more accurate currency conversions via expense management software can save an organization money.
- Make better decisions - Through reporting, users can make better decisions about short-term and long-term expense policy adjustments as well as budgeting.
- Improved employee satisfaction - It takes a unique person to enjoy creating expense reports, so the better the software, the happier the employee. In addition, because the reports get submitted faster, reimbursements can be issued faster - good news for everyone.
These are the common features of Expense Management Software
- Ease of creating expense reports
- Creation of expense reports takes little time and is intuitive for new users
- Bank/credit card integration
- Can easily pull in receipts from all credit card statements
- Smart categorization
- Automatically assigns categories/accounts based on past entries and credit card statements
- Digital receipt management
- Provides various methods to easily capture receipts digitally and can automatically parse receipts to create expenses report entries. Methods may include mobile photos, desktop drag and drop, etc.
- Employee reimbursement
- Functionality to reimburse employees directly to their bank account or can easily integrate with payroll system
- Currency conversions
- Enables easy entry of expenses in other currencies and converts to expense report currency
- Ease of booking
- Can book Flights, Hotels, and Rental cars directly from software.
- Itinerary management
- Creates travel itineraries based on booking
- Trip notifications
- Integrates to calendaring systems and/or provides notifications of upcoming flights, hotels, rental cars, etc.
- Invoice creation and delivery
- Ability to create and send printable or electronic invoices. Includes standard invoice style library that can be customized/branded.
- Electronic payments
- Accepts electronic payments from clients
- Project accounting/revenue recognition
- Provides adequate reporting and/or can integrate to AP systems to recognize revenue appropriately
- Receipt capture
- Can easily capture receipts, parse receipts and convert/assign them to a report from mobile device
- Mileage tracking
- Allows users to track mileage from mobile device using maps or GPS.
- Travel Itinerary and flight status updates
- Mobile application can store travel itineraries, electronic documents, and updates user of travel delays/changes
- Standard integrations
- Provides standard connectors for popular Finance, Payroll, HRMS and CRM systems
- Routes Timesheets, Invoices, Expense reports through approval process. Easy to maintain and administer
- Automated Reminders
- Sends automatic reminders to employees that have not completed expenses reports and/or timesheets
- Policy compliance management
- Enables administrators to create rules that enforce compliances of corporate time and expense policies
- User, role and access management
- The ability to grant access to select data, features, objects, etc. based on the users, user role, groups, etc.
- Access pre-built and custom reports and dashboards.
- Application Programming Interface - Specification for how the application communicates with other software. API's typically enable integration of data, logic, objects, etc. with other software applications.
- Enables users to view and transact business with the same content in multiple languages and currencies.
- Performance and reliability
- Software is consistently available (uptime) and allows users to complete tasks quickly because they are not waiting for the software to respond to an action they took.
- Mobile user support
- Allows software to be easily used on multiple mobile devices include phone and tablet devices.
- Provides users ability to create and access expense reports/timesheets while not connected to internet.