Uncomplicating the Expense Report: 4 Steps

With an automated expense reporting system, employees can upload receipts, expense reports, bills, and email invoices on-the-go and on time.

Employee expense reports are essential, but managing them is a time-consuming function for any organization. As soon as an employee submits an expense report, the approver needs to review, validate, and approve the expenses to be processed immediately. This process is usually delayed because receipts are often lost, and duplicate receipts find a way to make their presence felt. And unfortunately, a large part of expense reporting processes are in violation of corporate policies. With most organizations still using paper-and-tape or spreadsheet-based expense management, the manual process is a veritable sinkhole involving complex validation and reporting.

Automation of expense management makes the approver’s job easy – and a streamlined automated expensing process is a boon for approvers and relief for employees. Here are four important things to consider to make expense reporting painless:

Ensure timely submission
Employees struggle to file and get approvals for their expenses in a timely manner. In a manual process, the approver needs to cross-reference corporate policies and keep falling back on additional references and receipts. It is estimated that 40% of employees forget to submit their reports on time and once an employee delays submission, it gets difficult to track those reports and maintain deadlines.

With automation, your employees can upload receipts, expense reports, bills, and email invoices on the go. The process is simple and alerts employees about policy deviations, unauthorised receipts, and additional requirements which can be fulfilled immediately. The do-it-yourself module of the automated expense management system makes it simple, real-time, and valid. Approvers also receive alerts from the system to immediately review the expense reports.

Validate expenses with corporate policies
It is important that employees are aware of corporate expense polices including timelines and spend thresholds. It is also important that the policy is clear about what is acceptable and ready to be submitted to the accounts payable. For an approver, validating every expense report is a humongous task. Corporate policy compliance can be increased by incorporating corresponding rules within the system. The system will automatically red-flag the impermissible claims.

Institute a participatory review process
An effective approval chain, which streamlines the expense process, encourages employees to adhere to acceptable norms. In many organizations, multiple approvals may be needed and it is important that all the reports are processed within deadline. Automated expense management can be customized according to routing needs and organization hierarchy. Approvers and higher management should be held to the exact standard as their employees. The automated alert system successfully incorporates this feature.

Leverage data analytics
Approvers can use data analytics to identify anomalies in the system. Reports and trends help in identifying expenses incurred by each employee, vendor, and department. Any unusual trend can be investigated and policy changes can be implemented immediately. Approvers should be able to review expense policies to incorporate new items and fix loopholes.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners found that expense frauds amount to about 5% of revenues. A streamlined expensing process and a watertight policy, which is implemented through an automated system, can help save time and money. Approvers are accountable for making the expense process simple, streamlined, and trustworthy. Automated systems like Expenzing Employee Expense Controller improve accuracy and enhance visibility of business expenses. With Expenzing tools, your employees can track their expenses real time and the bottle necks within the approval process are much reduced. The profitability and competitiveness of your business is assured through effective cost and expense management.

This post was written for the Shoeboxed blog by Ashley J., a freelancer and marketing operations manager in India. As a marketing operations manager, she focuses on growing expense control software as an open source product, and communicates the value of identity to customers, partners, and the larger community by targeting specific markets through segmentation and analysis.

Banish Bad Expense Reports with Our New PDF Export!

Expense reports can be easy. Check out our new PDF export to create beautiful, quick expense reports in just a few clicks.

Whether you’ve been making expense reports using Shoeboxed for years or are planning to make your first one for this month’s expenses, you’ll be glad to know that we just released a brand new expense report template we think you’ll love!

Expense reports still work the same way: just choose the receipts you want and click Export Selected to PDF from your receipt table.

So what’s the big deal? In addition to an updated, sleek design, our expense reports now feature:

  • A simple way to email the PDF to yourself or whoever needs to receive it (and we’ll remember who you sent it to next time!)
  • Easy options to view or download the expense report in the email
  • Faster exports and increased reliability/fewer errors
  • An email notification if for any reason your expense report was not generated properly

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to your receipt table and create a new expense report! We think you’ll be dazzled by the results.

As always, if you have feedback or questions about our new expense reports, reach us 24/7 at help@team.shoeboxed.com.

Are you getting the most out of your Shoeboxed account?

If you just signed up for a Shoeboxed account, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the powerful tools your account has to offer. Here’s how.

Not to toot our own horns, but we think Shoeboxed is pretty darn intuitive and user-friendly. But if you’re just getting started, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the powerful tools your account has to offer.

Here are a few common mistakes we frequently see small business owners making when they first start using Shoeboxed:

Treating every document as a receipt

Remember that Shoeboxed is for digitizing all of your paper documents, no matter their size or shape! That’s why we’ve created tabs for business cards and other documents.

It’s important to weed out any documents you don’t want included in your tax totals from the Receipts page – otherwise, when you go to generate a report, the application will pull those documents into your spreadsheet.

It’s easy to separate mislabeled items like bank statements and business cards from your receipts. Simply click on the document in question, scroll down to the lower righthand corner of the pop up screen, and click the Not a receipt button to choose the appropriate section to send it to.

Failing to use categories

Shoeboxed uses a sophisticated algorithm to detect which tax category each receipt should be placed in based on what you purchased and where.

But not all receipts all created equal! Sometimes the ink gets smudged, or maybe you visited a mom and pop shop that our algorithm doesn’t recognize. In these cases, it’s important to make sure each of your receipts isn’t left without the right category.

Specify the date range in question, then under the categories tab, select Uncategorized. This will pull up all of the receipts that Shoeboxed did not categorize.

From here, you can adjust totals and place each receipt into its proper tax write off category.

If you don’t categorize your receipts, you could be missing out on lucrative deductions come tax time!

Skipping the notes section

The notes section in your receipt manager is a powerful tool that can save you hours of time when doing your taxes.

When you select an individual receipt, you’ll see the scanned image of that receipt. Next to it, you’ll see a section labeled Receipt Notes. This is where you can add additional information about when and where the purchase was made, and more importantly, why it’s a valid tax deduction.

When exporting your receipts to a spreadsheet, your notes will automatically be included. This will allow your tax professional to see all of the information they need regarding each particular transaction.

When you don’t complete the notes section, you may have to field email after email from your accountant asking you “What is this expense?”

Remember that just because you remember the $250 dinner was a business dinner, doesn’t mean your tax preparer knows that. Getting specific in the notes section will make it easy for them to approve the write-off, saving you both time (and saving you money!).

What’s your favorite feature within your Shoeboxed account? What features do you still have questions about? Let us know in the comments — we’re here to help!