Business Continuity

People, AI, Automation: How to Improve Expense Report Audit

SAP Concur Team |

It’s no secret that the best way to increase audit efficiency is to audit 100% of expense reports. But that costs money and staff time, both of which are finite. Your business can overcome that challenge, though, through a powerful combination of technology and people.

With AI-infused audit solutions, you can cover every report, with the technology doing the heavy lifting and, learning as it goes, finding the exceptions. Experienced auditors can then use their skills and company knowledge to address unresolved exceptions. Still, getting the most from the audit process requires more than applying people and technology. Keys to gaining efficiency and compliance include understanding how audits can improve spend management and drive growth, recognizing what both technology and humans do best, and knowing best practices involving when, what, and why to audit.

6 Ways to Increase Audit Efficiency to Improve Spend Management

Streamlining your audit process allows your business to scrutinize more expense reports and gain time, resources, and savings to pursue growth.

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A multifaceted approach allows businesses to ward off problems before they grow. Solutions can scan expense reports for exceptions, with human auditors following up on ones that artificial intelligence (AI) cannot resolve. With other solutions, policy and receipt checks can be performed during the expense stage or reports and receipts can be compared before a payment goes out to spot anomalies or fraud. Your people focus on high-risk cases and high-value tasks.

“With Intelligent Audit, we’re inserting audits of policy prior to manager approval. By ensuring policy is followed prior to manager review, we can syphon off more expense reports that don’t require intervention, increasing speed to payment, reducing delinquency, eliminating work from the system, and maintaining our risk profile,” says Merck’s Jeffrey Thompson, director, payment services-program design, policy and sourcing.

Fueling expense report audit efficiency and growth potential

Automating the audit process brings measurable reductions in time and money, lowering the cost of expense report mistakes by 60% and cutting audit time up to 90% when AI is used for initial report investigation.1 With technology, machines excel at a function humans dislike repetitive and time-consuming tasks.

Here are ways businesses can make the process more efficient, providing agility and freeing resources and energy to invest in the growth that more than half of CFOs – 57%2 – report is a key goal.

  • Reduce non-compliant spend by promoting corporate credit card use, resulting in fewer problematic paper receipts and an audit-friendly path.
  • Identify top opportunities for greater effectiveness, ferreting out repeat offenders of exceptions and policies that cause confusion.
  • Use automated solutions with AI to check every expense report, replacing error-prone manual work and spot checks that leave openings to fraud and other issues.

With an intelligent solution watching, you can thwart two human tendencies – slapdash paperwork and fudging on expenses. “Once we established that we were using Verify and we were going to an AI audit tool, I saw compliance immediately improve,” says Marcy Hagenbuch, a finance systems specialist for Chobani. “Employees knew that every line item, every expense in every report was going to be reviewed by AI.”

Determining your best practices for audit process

To determine the best use of intelligent technology and people, it’s important to consider core questions about your audit process involving purpose and intent. The answers define your best practices.

When to audit: By using technology to screen and performing audits before manager approval, employees have a chance to fix issues and the company can identify regular areas of non-compliance. Auditors spend less time following up, and the company doesn’t have to recapture reimbursed funds.

What to audit: Businesses still handling doing expenses on paper or not fully taking advantage of intelligent automation often make hard choices about how many expense reports or which expense types receive scrutiny. Today’s technology can render that question moot. Even in your company isn’t all the way to digital transformation, committing to an edit-them-all can identify improvement areas and raise compliance.

Why to audit: This question might seem self-evident but answering it can define your mission. So, as a company, ask whether you’re trying to drive compliance, manage costs, identify bad behavior, reduce risk, or manage reclaim of value-add tax (VAT). All of the above is a fine answer, but you can still establish your priorities.

Explore the auditing power of technology and automation


  1. Internal data, SAP Concur.
  2. CFO Insights Survey, February 2024.


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