Automated expense reporting can help your business control costs – you guessed it – automatically. So, if you haven’t already automated your company’s expense reporting process, it may be time to give it some serious thought.
Most people jump at the chance to make life easier. After all, we live in an age where we automate just about everything – from paying bills and grocery shopping to tracking the food we eat using our smartphones.
That’s because making things easier often presents us with opportunities to more fully utilize our resources and maximize our results.
Smart business is no different. For decades, growing businesses have been introducing HR technology to help them run better, grow faster and make more money. And expense report automation should be a logical extension of that same concept.
When it comes to protecting your business’s financial assets and making smarter fiscal decisions to help you take your organization to the next level, automated expense reports can be a powerful tool.
Here are four not-so-obvious reasons it’s time to consider making the leap.
1. Smarter financial decisions for your business
Let’s face it. When you don’t have all the information you need, it can be difficult to make the right decisions. And shooting in the dark when it comes to making smart financial decisions for your business is not how you got where you are today.
You need to see the big picture, and that includes a clear and predictable understanding of where your company’s money is going.
Whether you’re the only one doing the spending, or you have a top-notch sales force dedicated to growing revenue, automating your expense reporting procedures will give you valuable data analytics you can use to plan for the future.
With this information readily at your fingertips, you might ask yourself:
- Did spending increase from one quarter to the next?
- Do I have expense policies that I can consistently and accurately enforce?
- Do I have the information I need to negotiate discounted rates for travel and entertainment expenses?
You might even be compelled to ask yourself if you have the capital to grow your business year after year. It helps to have a pulse on where you’ve been to know where you’re going. Answering these tough questions can tell you a lot about where your business is headed.
Through expense reporting automation, you can collect smarter data regarding your company’s spending, so you can make more strategic decisions regarding your business.
2. Less tax-related anxiety
Improved accuracy and traceability are probably among the more obvious benefits of expense report automation. But what may not be as obvious is the secondary benefit that comes from having confidence in your financial reporting practices: peace of mind.
If you’re like most business leaders, you would exhaust every effort to keep from being put through the paces of an IRS business audit, right?
What if those efforts didn’t involve scrambling to find documents and receipts that may or may not have been filed properly? By automating your expense reporting, you’ll have the process in place to more proactively manage your expenses (and record-keeping) and help you stay on even ground with the IRS.
While it’s true that audits are sometimes just the luck of the draw, the IRS uses a statistical data formula to scour tax returns as part of their national research program.
That means that any inconsistencies on your business’s or personal tax return (related to your company) could set off a series of red flags and bring the IRS knocking at your door.
So, unless your business operates in the world of accounting, or you happen to be fond of the alphabet soup that is the IRS tax code, an automated expense reporting system can help keep you out of hot water.
Most automated platforms allow you to set rules on the front end to help ensure expenses are submitted in compliance with tax or related regulations that may affect your company, employees or industry. When things move at the speed of business, an automated system can catch noncompliant expenses that you might otherwise miss.
With an automated reporting system in place that you can trust, you’ll gain confidence in your processes and may even reduce your odds of being subject to an IRS audit. You’ll also be able to maintain your focus on what drives your business forward.
3. A more effective sales force
A motivated sales force can do wonders for your bottom line.
Maybe that motivation comes partly from their intrinsic passion for what your company has to offer. You’ve probably also considered (and maybe incorporated) perks such as sales-based incentives or other gifts and prizes for extrinsic motivation.
But what happens if your team loses the energy to seek prospective clients because of frustrations that can be easily eliminated?
The frustration: tracking and maintaining receipts related to travel and entertainment expenses. It may seem trivial, but it can have a real impact on the way your team operates.
It’s probably reasonable to say that you would prefer to see your team conduct business in person, rather than over the phone or through email. Automating your expense reporting process can facilitate that human connection by streamlining the transactions that foster face-to-face interaction.
An automated expense reporting system with mobile functionality gives your team the tools they need to quickly log expenses, which eliminates the need to hold on to paper receipts and can reduce the likelihood of error though integrated corporate card transactions. Combine the receipt capture functionality with integrated corporate card transactions and your company and users benefit from efficiency and accuracy.
Not to mention, employees can be reimbursed faster through automated workflows. And who doesn’t want to get paid more quickly?
Bottom line: Whether it’s golf or another form of entertainment, when your team is able to spend their time with prospects, instead of being preoccupied by expense reporting, it’s a win for everybody.
4. Greater employee accountability
Self-service allows your employees to own the expense reporting process from beginning to end, and do it all from the convenience of their computer or smart device.
As a bonus, since your automated platform will likely include built-in guidelines – something paper processes can’t deliver – it can help make policies and procedures more enforceable. It also empowers employees to do their part in ensuring compliance.
Still not convinced you should automate your expense reporting? Here are a few more-obvious reasons.
You already automate everything else
We’ve automated so many things in our personal lives that we’ve lost sight of what that actually means. It’s just become the way we do things – second nature to most of us.
The Digital Revolution has created a major shift in how we do pretty much everything. We’ve moved from using antiquated mechanical and analog methods, to depending on the ubiquitous digital technology that powers every aspect of our lives and continues to evolve at a dizzying pace.
What’s more, we’ve even taught our technological devices to speak to one another.
In other words, we’ve learned to leverage technology platforms and sync them together so we can get more done. Not only can we get more done, it’s usually done quicker and more accurately than if we were to tackle the same tasks manually.
Shouldn’t you take the same approach with your business?
With just a few clicks or taps, expenses can be submitted and approved in a fraction of the time it takes to complete a paper process. What used to take days or weeks to complete can be reduced to hours and even minutes in some cases, so you and your employees can get back to business.
Integration with other software
You can track expenses and have the systems do all the work when you automate the process. For example, consider looking for an expense card provider that integrates with your automated expense reporting software.
These cards work much like a personal pre-paid card might, allowing you to add and remove funds for employees as you see fit, and monitor it all from a single technology platform – not a glorified spreadsheet.
Learn more about how automated expense reporting can give you the fiscal insight and control to maximize the results you want by downloading our free e-book: Taking Control of your T&E Budget: Best Practices for Managing Employee Spending.