All aboard for the future of expense management

Why expense management software deniers will have to eat their words before very much longer, says blogger Stuart Pearcey

You no doubt know what ‘miscellaneous’ means, but look it up in the dictionary anyway. You’ll find a string of potential synonyms including ‘motley’, ‘jumbled’, ‘confused’ and ‘indiscriminate’.

Now consider that, if you’re not using business expense management tracking software, your year-end expenses report will probably have a column headed ‘miscellaneous’. Not a pretty thought, is it, to have a column labelled with any one of those four adjectives? Beneath that heading will be a sum of money for which the heading could just as well read ‘We don’t know what we spent that money on’.

What a way to run a railroad. And yet some companies still do it, allowing funds to run through their fingers like dry sand.

But it will all change. I recall working for a company whose senior managers could see no need for employees – who weren’t restricted to desk jobs – to have mobile phones. How foolish they would appear now. Everyone has a phone; unless they have two (but that’s another story).

The mobile is now everywhere. Primary school children have them. We no longer call them phones because the computing power they contain means the function of actually making a telephone call has been overrun by all sorts of other good stuff (OK, some of it’s not all good, but that’s yet another story).

With the ever-more-powerful mobile come ever-more powerful apps, and it’s this online expense management software that is changing expense management in an unstoppable tide.

Why would you want to lose money?
No CFO in their right mind would be happy to see unexplained losses, but they are all there under that catch-all ‘misc’ heading. It’s a euphemism for error and fraud – the latter on such a scale that JP Morgan is said to have estimated that American companies were losing $1bn through it. However, that’s the route you must go down if databases and spreadsheets are your chosen expense management tools.

Why it’s cheaper to use a business expense tracker app
There’s a hard part and an easy part in the best expense manager app. Before you introduce it to your business the hard part should have been done by the developers. Their job has been to make using the software simple and intuitive in use for people who have lots of other tasks to perform – tasks that add to the company’s bottom line, which claiming expenses never does.

The net result is that recording, claiming, and approving expenses takes moments, and can be done anywhere, at any time (so long as you have a WiFi connection.)

And that’s the first saving. It’s in time, and makes more available for profitable activity. To illustrate that ‘anywhere’ thought, consider that Solo Expenses is used by clients in 98 countries around the world, with each user working in their own currency. We’d say that’s a fair definition of ‘anywhere’.

The next saving is having free software. Take Solo Expenses, for example, which has been in the business for almost two decades. Elements of the software are free, and will remain so as long as you’re a user. Beyond that is a self-selection dashboard in which it’s possible to turn features on and off at a whim. You’ll be charged only for what you use, and only for as long as you use it. No long-term contracts here!

And speaking of charges, the billing principle is per user per month, so the smaller your company, the smaller your bill will be. Alongside that is the fact that larger companies, with more employees, will pay more – but are in a position to make much larger savings.

And speaking of savings, let’s go back to the suggested losses being made through outdated expense management systems. Tighter controls mean less waste, so it’s a fair bet that any investment in online expense management software will be rewarded with savings that are greater than the initial investment.

The main motivator
In the end, for business, nothing motivates like money. And that’s why spreadsheets and databases are ultimately doomed. They will be cast aside as online expense management systems become as much a part of business life as the mobiles on which they work.