The Top 4 Hidden Costs behind a Manual Expense Process

So you’ve used and trusted spreadsheets for the longest time to manage critical finance tasks like company expenses. You’re not alone. The humble, yet powerful spreadsheet has long been considered the “Swiss Army knife” in the finance team’s arsenal. And with good reason: spreadsheets can be used to carry out complex calculations quickly using cell formulas and pivot tables. It can even be used to help make forecasts based on predicted data. It’s no surprise then that when companies begin to track and manage their employee expenses, the finance team has traditionally turned to its faithful friend – the spreadsheet.

But spreadsheets weren’t designed to manage processes

There are many steps in the end-to-end expense process – from the time when an employee accrues an expense to the approval, payment and backend consolidation. The spreadsheet may be a great tool to capture data along the way, but when it comes to managing a complex process like employee expenses, it falls far short.

When you rely on spreadsheets, data can become disjointed as it tends to sit on individuals’ computers. Real-time, cross-team collaboration in one place is virtually impossible. It’s not easy to track where an expense claim is in the journey and you’re reliant on humans to keep the process moving.

So what’s it costing you? Here are the four top hidden costs you’re probably facing with a manual system in place:

  1. Your employees are frustrated and are wasting precious time

Your staff spends a lot of time gathering and submitting their expenses and dread putting together a claim. Attaching paper receipts and filling in lengthy forms is the name of the game. Did you know 39% of employees work on admin-related tasks like their expenses outside of working hours according to YouGov? No wonder many put it off for weeks and even months, which doesn’t help you budget for future spend reliably.

  1. Your finance team is bogged down with labourious admin

It’s probable your team spend a large chunk of their time rekeying data into spreadsheets, chasing employees for further information and their managers for approval, and cross-checking each claim against guidelines and company policy. It’s also probable that they’re bored. Their time could be much better spent on value-added tasks like helping to budget and forecast and claiming back VAT for the business.

  1. You lack compliance and control

Despite your team’s best efforts, out-of-policy claims and expenses that breach regulations are more common than you’d like to think. It’s a delicate balance checking every single claim and receipt against current mandates while keeping the finance processes ticking over swiftly. 99% of managers don’t question employee claims, which means your team has to be extra vigilant. Many finance teams have neither the time nor the inclination to claim back VAT owing to them lest they get it wrong and face a substantial fine.

  1. You’re flying blind around spend

When you rely on a manual process involving spreadsheets, you cannot easily plug into other finance tools like payroll and invoice, nor can you easily combine it with sales, marketing, HR and other company data to get a truly holistic view of your company spend. That makes it difficult to budget, take corrective action and ensure a steady cash flow. Perhaps that’s why 57% of companies report that poor visibility into spending and compliance is the greatest T&E business pressure they experience according to Aberdeen Group.

There is a better way and it begins with binning those spreadsheets – well, at least as a means to manage your expenses. Contact us to know what the blueprint of a best practice expense solution looks like.

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