by Ann Donovan and Peter Glenn
Staying in control and on top of your team’s expenses – especially a team that is frequently on the road for client meetings, trade shows and training events – is a constant challenge for many organizations. Expense management can easily be overwhelming as logistics, planning, and approvals take away time from more meaningful activities. The spillover of work falls far beyond departmental obligations and can quickly impact the work-ability of both your team members and those in the accounting department.
A strong expense management system can reduce or eliminate many data entry activities, help clarify company policies, and transform an often redundant and laborious activity into a valuable collaboration in business management. Your expense management system can be one of the more valued tools in your organization’s tool belt. It can help you track conversations that justify the spend, approve trips quickly, and reimburse employees fast, keeping them focused and productive.
Expense Management solutions fill the gap in financial accounting that occurs between team members’ engagement tools, such as the CRM and the Office Suite, and the ERP. Many solutions will also selectively grant the benefits of access to vital ERP data for team members to interact with in a meaningful way, without the risks inherent in granting them full access to the ERP or accounting system. An expense management solution provides a comprehensive and well thought out feature set that moves organizations away from cumbersome expense spreadsheets and high maintenance in-house developed solutions and towards powerful planning and insight tools that help you track many day-to-day dimensions of your business.
If you don’t already have an Expense Management Solution implemented in your business, or if you are considering switching to a different one, here are some key features to be on the lookout for:
- Mobile Data Entry – Having the ability for team members to enter their expenses into a mobile interface is crucial for an expense management solution. Users should be able to enter their expenses from anywhere as the expenses occur.
- Flexible, Automated Approval Workflow – This provides automatic routing for different expense types based on rules set by the financial department leaders. It also helps keep expense reports from getting “stuck” by handling common delays. Approval workflow and budget tracking allow an administrator to create rules for approvals based on department, GL account, over-budget status and a host of other comparison options to manage spending.
- Travel Pre-Authorization – This is a key feature that expense management solutions can offer that can greatly facilitate the budgeting for on-site business needs. Trips can be planned and approved before any spending commences, and once approved, later matched to expense reports for easy reimbursement, or reconciled to imported credit card statements.
- Per Diem Expenses – Built-in calculations based on both IRS and company policies are easily accommodated with per diem entry via expense management solutions. Per diem rules can be built and applied differently based on the per diem type.
- Customizable Expense Entry – This provides flexibility to handle a broad range of entry types and processes for organization-specific requirements and rules.
If you are in the exploration stages, one Expense Manage-ment solution to consider is eRequester. Randy Pape, President and CEO of eRequester by Paperless Business Systems, Inc. shares, “When we started developing our expense management solution, we spent a lot of time analyzing the existing processes and needs of our clients. We looked at the manual forms and processes in use in the marketplace, then set out to automate and optimize the travel and expense data entry and expense approval and tracking processes. Our team was able to develop a product based on real-world needs and experiences.“
About the Authors
Ann Donovan is the Vice President of marketing of Paperless Business System, Inc. and has worked to develop the eRequester solution since its founding, as well as having a background in internet consulting and marketing. Her interest is in usable applications to meet business critical solutions.
Peter Glenn is a Senior Level Manager for Paperless Business Systems, Inc. and Product Manager for eRequester Purchasing and Expense Management Software. Peter has a long and varied history in managing custom software development projects across multiple industries and over 15 years of experience in software. He has been a key player in the recent growth and direction for the eRequester platform and has been an integral part of the eRequester team since 2009.
Article reprinted from the Winter 2016 issue of Bellwether.
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