Expense reports are a necessary evil of all businesses. Employees often avoid the arduous paperwork associated with filing and submitting them, and during that period of procrastination it can be easy to lose track of what’s required to submit correctly, such as paper receipts. Traditional reporting procedures put the onus on the employee to save, track, and submit expenses on top of their more useful and important tasks.
But the challenges of outdated expense reporting methods can be frustrating for business leaders as well. Companies that depend on legacy systems may not get the level of detail required for accounting purposes, and rarely get it in a timely manner. Accounting departments are burdened with sorting through incomplete reports, uncovering inaccurate information, and engaging in lengthy exchanges with employees. These common complications delay the accurate tracking and forecasting of business expenses, which can impact a company’s overall financial success.
While expense reporting solutions aren’t new, there are tools that can better support your employees and accounting teams, especially as more companies embrace remote or hybrid work operations for the foreseeable future. Thanks to cloud technology, these tools are more accessible than ever. Businesses can harness cloud-based tools with software powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) that are designed to fit within remote and mobile working environments. Highly mobile industries such as construction, field service, and delivery can benefit immensely from the technology, where employees are tasked with purchasing materials, supplies and fuel, then regularly bill expenses.
Cloud-based mobile tools can transform an error-prone process into one that allows workers to allocate their time to more meaningful tasks and ensures that companies can process expenses in a timely and accurate manner.
Turn to AI and ML Solutions to Streamline the Process
One of the game-changing capabilities of modern expense reporting software is the ability to upload receipts from a mobile device. ML tools can recognize and automatically categorize expenses, eliminating the need for employees to do it themselves. Once an employee incurs an expense, they can use the system to record the item from their phone—making it easier to log expenses as they go, rather than saving a pile of receipts to sort through later. When processing the expense report, finance teams can then look up images of the receipts and verify entries much more easily.
Companies can improve the accuracy of reporting while the technology handles some of the behind-the-scenes work. Not only will this reduce the number of errors in reports, but it will also decrease the amount of manual labor required to finish half-filled reports or correct errors, which can save time for both finance teams and employees
Finally, another key feature to simplify the expense reporting process is automated corporate card reconciliations. This allows for intelligent creation of expense reports automatically and can detect transactions and remind the user to log a corresponding receipt as needed.
Save Time and Resources
We’ve all heard the saying that time is money. So, with the extensive time savings secured from intelligent expense management software, businesses experience a boost in employee productivity and contributions, but how else can intelligent expense reporting help them save money?
When expense reporting is done digitally and with AI-enabled technologies, it reduces tangible costs like paper, but companies also remove the costs associated with employees and managers contending with hard copies, searching for receipts or manually matching dollar amounts. Many companies fail to recognize how quickly materials and time add up to a significant cost. When a business considers the hundreds or thousands of reports submitted annually, introducing software-enabled expense management tools can help save money those companies didn’t even know they were losing.
Business leaders can follow a simple equation to get an idea of what they might be spending on processing expense reports: The number of hours spent on expense reports, multiplied by the average hourly salary of the staff, divided by the number of expense reports processed per year. The result might be surprising.
Leverage Relevant Data to Make Informed Business Decisions
When expense reports are submitted and processed in a timely and accurate manner, businesses have a more complete picture of their finances. To appropriately forecast revenue, plan raises and bonuses, and evaluate potential investments, businesses must have a clear and accurate picture of the business’ spend. This includes reimbursements owed to employees.
Embracing expense reporting systems that utilize automation allows businesses to make more precise predictions about future costs. For example, being able to understand how much home internet is costing a company as employees work remotely might help the company to determine if it can offer a stipend to help hybrid employees create a more comfortable home office.
AI and ML-driven expense reporting software has the power to solve some challenges that traditional systems have failed to address. Businesses have turned to tech-driven solutions to support collaboration and improve business operations, and it’s time they adopt modern expense reporting systems to streamline the process for employees and secure a more complete picture of their financials.
About the author
Ajoy has more than 15 years of experience in the industry in technical, marketing and leadership roles. Prior to Acumatica, Ajoy was at Microsoft driving business success across a wide range of product management and marketing roles most recently serving as Director for OEM Segment Marketing where he and his team were responsible for the go to market strategy across commercial and consumer audiences. In a prior role, Ajoy was part of the product management and marketing team in Microsoft Developer Tools division. Ajoy has co-authored half a dozen books on various MS technologies including ASP.NET and Visual Studio.