If this headline gets your attention, you’re probably struggling with the downside of manual expense reports: a foggy view, at best, of cash flow; the frustration of chasing receipts all around the organization; the aggravation on both sides when accounting has to track down employees and demand that they fix an incomplete spreadsheet; the pain of always being ‘the bad cop.’ But the technology now exists to make those expense reports easier and faster than what you’re used to. Those easy expense reports can make your business life a whole lot better. This is the first of a series of stories that will explore these issues:
What’s wrong, and what’s at stake
If your business is doing expense reports on spreadsheets, you know the drill: A wallet jammed with aging, tattered receipts; lots of time spent moving what’s on those receipts to a spreadsheet; the risk of copying wrong numbers; accounting folks chasing down lost receipts and undone reports; a long wait to get your money back and NO visibility into your cash flow. The amount of money at risk is big: A 2014 Aberdeen study found that at businesses with up to 500 employees, the average expense filer accounts for $10,150 a year in expenses. And a lot could go wrong: 6 out of ten employees admit they’ve filed at least one incorrect expense report, and a third of employees have submitted reports containing at least five errors!
Hiring – and keeping – great employees
Businesses large and small all struggle with this right now: it’s tough to hire, and keep, enough good employees for the current economy. The numbers show why in the areas of hiring and retention, easy expense reports can give you an edge. The 2014 Grayling SME study shows 54% of employees want quick expense reimbursement, and 17% explicitly want automated expense reporting. Automation gives an expense approval cycle that’s 28% faster, on average, than a manual system. Expense reports which take too much time can badly frustrate employees who’d rather be doing what they were hired to do. That Grayling study shows at least half of salespeople spend more than an hour each month filling out expenses – 19% spend more than three hours a month. By the time a year’s gone by – that’s almost a full business week buried in spreadsheets!
Automation and beyond
Many businesses are finding relief for these pains when they automate their expense reports online. The right automated system lets you snap pictures of your receipts with a smartphone camera, then upload them to your expense report. Automation can even capture spending on a corporate card directly and fill in the expense report. Managers can approve on the fly from a mobile device, and you can build your travel and expense policies into the software, which flags any out-of-policy spending. Going beyond automation, companies can take the data and make decisions with the information, either quickly approving justified out-of-policy expenses, or analyzing cash flow and spending patterns to let the business shift directions quickly and take advantage of changing market conditions.
A better way – really
Here at Concur, businesses tell us how they are getting results with expense report automation every day – in the real world. One Chief Financial Officer tells us: ““We have reduced the time it takes employees to complete an expense report by 75%. […] That’s an enormous savings of time and dollars.” Another CFO says: “I would say to people who have small companies that [Concur] is worth it.”
If you’d like to know more about what an automated expense report system can do for you, say “Hello!” to easy expense reports and Download this concise eBook today!
 Aberdeen Group, “Integrating Globally, Executing Locally: The Only Game in Town,” September 2014
 Concur Technologies, Inc., “Concur Small Business Survey Reveals Surprising Habits for Expense Reporting; 59% of Respondents Admit to Making Mistakes,” October 2010
 Concur Technologies, Inc., “Grayling SME Study – Expense Management,” November 2014