What is Expense Management Automation, and Why Should You Go Paperless?

When organizations manage expenses manually, it can take a toll on everything from productivity to employee happiness to the bottom line. By upgrading to software that automates expense management, businesses of all types and sizes can streamline operations, cut costs, and reduce tasks that waste time and cause frustration.

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Why should you automate expense management?

Businesses leverage all sorts of tools and technology to operate as efficiently as possible. Yet, for various reasons, companies often overlook expense management or put on the backburner. For instance, some businesses:

  • Don’t believe they’re big enough to automate expense management
  • Have legacy technologies or processes that “work just fine” and therefore aren’t upgraded
  • Feel more comfortable with known quantities like spreadsheets and paper expense reports

Whatever the reason may be, every business should understand this fact: 

Manual expense management can hinder your organization.

Old-school processes may get the job done, but they’re clunky, time consuming, error prone, and don’t provide the visibility into spend you need to do your job effectively. And when your expense process is slow and cumbersome, it can really add up.

Who benefits from automated expense management?

Manual expense management is frustrating for managers and employees alike. However, not all priorities within a company are the same, and different teams have different goals and desires. Here’s a sample of who can benefit from automating expenses and how.


Financial Teams

What they want: To simplify processes and save money.

When a business uses manual processes to manage expenses, valuable data about how much is being spent, by who, and where is often overlooked or exists as “hidden costs.” Through automation, financial teams can see where every penny goes, which means bills and reimbursements are paid on time, errors and fraud are eliminated, and business decisions are based on complete and accurate spend data — not to mention a clear view into overall cash flow.


IT Managers

What they want: To extend IT’s influence and reduce the burden on tech support.

Llegacy technology and poor alignment between IT and finance teams is a root cause for poor spend management. When IT and finance work together to automate expense, travel, and invoice management, it can lead to greater employee satisfaction and compliance.

Additionally, IT leaders need a seat at the table to help plan and shape the future of their organization. When automated, cloud-based tools are implemented, it can also lessen the burden on the internal IT support teams and allow them to support employees in other ways.


Employees (in general)

What they want: The latest tech tools and as little frustration as possible.

In the Age of Digital Everything, employees expect the technology they use in their personal lives to carry over into their work. By providing employees with cloud-based tools that take away the pain and tedium of expense reports, you can give them what they demand, keep them happy, help them stay productive, and let them focus on the jobs they were hired to do (rather than wasting time on expense reports). 


CEOs and business leaders

What they want: To run the best business possible and maximize profit.

This one is easy. And it comes down to three big points:

  • Business leaders want what’s best for their people
  • Business leaders want to keep costs low and profits high
  • Automated expense management can take care of these simultaneously

Makes sense, right?

What capabilities should automated expense management have?

While automating expense management is good for any company, not all expense management systems are created equal. And once you have a good system in place, it’s important to establish an expense policy and process to make it work well. 

Here are a few considerations to help you choose a solid expense management solution and create policies to support it.

Good automation software should:

  • Streamline expense management with e-receipts
  • Automatically populate expense reports using electronic receipts from airlines, hotels, restaurants, and ground transportation services
  • Integrate with your existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system
  • Reconcile expenses with card integration
  • Track your expense data securely
  • Manage business expenses easily with mobile apps

Good expense policies and processes should:

  • Make it simple to follow and easy to comply with
  • Encourage managers to push back on inappropriate or non-compliant expense submissions
  • Collect the right amount of expense information
  • Make it easy to submit and approve expenses from anywhere
  • Pay people back quickly and keep everyone happy
  • Analyze data routinely and find opportunities for more cost savings


What’s next?

You now know that automated expense management can have a positive impact on every part of your business. Not just in dollars and cents, but productivity, compliance, fraud prevention, employee satisfaction, and more.

If you want to learn more, get our guide to building a best-in-class travel and expense program, use our calculator to see what an average expense report costs your organization, or check out our self-guided Concur Expense demo to see for yourself how automated expense management works.

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