With numerous Expense Management solutions available on the market today, how do you know what solution will meet the changing needs of your higher education institution?  First and foremost, significant cost savings will be recognized simply by automating the expense reporting workflow process due to reduced labor costs related to the processing of expense reports.  Many solutions are now available on-demand through a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.  SaaS solutions relieve the costly upfront fees for software and hardware purchases, while freeing up your IT department to focus on more strategic projects. 

Moreover, professors, researchers and their assistants must also be able to quickly and easily allocate expenses to grants so that they can accurately account for them.  Any delay in approving an expense report can contribute to cost overruns.  Best of breed solutions include the ability to facilitate travel preapproval when necessary, to quickly look up grant allocations with only a few keystrokes and easily split expenses between multiple grants and/or other cost centers.  Additionally, a best of breed solution can effortlessly and effectively manage expense reports that contain allocations to multiple grants, departments, or cost centers eliminating the need to have separate expense reports for these expenses.

Lastly, since grant sponsors and research organizations may require different travel rules, the solution must be able to easily track, enforce and maintain these ever changing rules. 

Key Motivators for Expense Report Automation

Online expense reporting and invoice management solutions available today provide complete process automation and cost controls around the institution’s unique AP operations.  Key motivators for institutions to deploy an automated Expense Management solution include:

  • Spend Control – Automation provides complete visibility into expense amounts and types of expenses.  This critical, real-time information provides the institution’s management with the information necessary to make informed decisions prior to reimbursement approval with the flexibility needed to make adjustments when necessary.
  • Fraud Prevention – Expense Management solutions provide visibility into expense abuse and helps pinpoint gaps in controls to reduce opportunities for expense fraud.
  • Cost Reduction – Institution management can drill down into expense categories and expense spending habits to achieve tighter cost control through automated expense reporting.  Automation also provides significant savings on the labor and processing costs associated with manual, paper-based expense reporting.
  • Compliance – Automation ensures approved business and travel expenses meet institutional governance and financial reporting regulations as well as the institution’s policies.
  • Operational Savings – Automation provides increased efficiencies and savings by allowing institutions to capture more supplier discounts and purchasing card rebates as well as eliminating the duplicate entry and/or manual routing associated with a paper- or Excel-based process.  
  • Employee Satisfaction – Valuable employee time is saved when creating and submitting expense reports.  In addition, employees are much happier with the ease of entry and the quick reimbursement processing time.
  • Manage Travel and Expenses on the Go – If there is a need for travel, expenses can be entered and managed anytime, anywhere through the SaaS platform via any web browser or via a mobile device.

The myriad of benefits from implementing an Expense Management solution are clear.  Not only will your institution reduce overall processing costs, but you will have the tools necessary to standardize your institution’s expense and reimbursement cycle and deliver on-demand, detailed data reports for strategic decision making.  As a result, your institution will witness an increase in productivity now that employees can focus on critical tasks rather than time consuming and error prone paper-based expense reports. 

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