Nearly half of all organizations are still stuck using manual expense reporting systems. Does your company still have a tedious, paper-based system or a homegrown solution with a spreadsheet and a few email routing rules? Unfortunately, these manual or low automation systems are prone to errors that can cost you in terms of money and productivity. To give you a peek at what those numerous perils can be, we’ve selected our top 10 to share.

1. High-Cost, Low-Speed Processing and Approval

Add up all the time spent by various employees to manually process expense reports, and each report costs you an average of $26.63. Switch to one of the expense reporting solutions that offer real-time expense automation, and you speed things up while bringing the cost down to about $6.85 per report.

2. No Way to Submit Expenses while on the Road

Manual expense reporting solutions require travelers to retain receipts and then log them in when they’re back in the office. As most business travelers are aware, finding and organizing all the receipts at the end of the trip is a challenge. Mobile expense management solutions let them save time and boost efficiency while entering expenses – and copies of receipts – from any device while on the road. 

Related: How to Make the Business Case for an Expense Management System

3. Tougher to Negotiate and Keep Volume Discounts

Travel vendors often offer discounts if you commit to a specified level of spend. It will be very difficult to figure out how much you spend with each vendor if you’re still using a manual expense reporting system. Automated expense reporting solutions let you quickly pull up annual spend for each vendor, along with items such as average room rate or fare and location of spend.

4. Limited Enforcement of Compliance

From airline lowest logical fares to per diems, monitoring and enforcing policy compliance can be a bear with a manual or homegrown expense reporting system. Automated solutions let you set up parameters that either flag or prevent out-of-policy expenses, prompting travelers to explain why they might be out of policy.

5. All-or-Nothing Approvals

If the person who normally approves reports is away from the office, or an item requires additional information, expense reports and payment can be delayed. With manual approval systems, if one line item on the report is delayed, the entire report is delayed. Expense automation keeps the workflow going with line-item approvals and reimbursements for uncontested expenses.

6. No Employee Visibility into Reimbursements

With manual systems, users never know where their report is in the approval process, or why their reimbursement is being delayed. Modern expense reporting solutions give users real-time email notifications if reports require further clarification. They also let users log on to the system to see where their report is in the approval process at any given time.

7. Greater Chance of Human Error

A system that requires manually keying in of data is begging for mistakes to be made. Mistakes are easy to make and tough to track, with paper-based processes making it difficult to find the error’s starting point. Receipt OCR eliminates human error issues, relying instead on imported data, scanned images and optical character recognition.

8. No Integration with Online Booking Tools

The use of online booking tools (OBT) is growing, and such tools can become even more efficient and effective when they feed all trip data directly into a global expense system. Such effortless integration is never the case with a manual system – and what about trips that get extended, changed, or canceled?

9. Difficult to Prevent Expense Fraud

Expense fraud in the U.S. reaches $2.8 billion per year, with 67 percent of the fraud cases committed by those who submit expenses manually. Manual expense reports lack the safeguards such as booking tool integration, policy compliance monitoring and flagging of suspicious-looking claims – just to name a few. Modern solutions include expense report audit capabilities that provide a secondary review process to help catch errors and thwart fraudulent activity.

Related: How Much Does Business Expense Fraud Cost?

10. No Way to Scale as You Grow and Evolve

As your organization grows and evolves, the only growth in your manual expense reporting system is a higher volume of reports to manually review, approve and reimburse. Modern expense report solutions effortlessly handle any sized workload with the utmost efficiency and ease.

If you think your company is saving money by sticking with a manual expense reporting solution, think again. Look beyond the fixed costs and into the gains in productivity, time and other benefits a fully-automated expense report software can bring. 

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Pitfalls of Manual Expense Reporting

Pitfalls of Manual Expense Reporting

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