Automating Expense Management

Sven von Sperl
October 12, 2021

Expense reports have been necessary for employees and finance teams for decades. But this slow, manual process isn’t working for many businesses, especially organisations that are scaling, fast. Research tells us that it can take up to 20 minutes for someone to manually process a single expense report. Plus, this study also found that 19% of expense reports contain errors, and take an extra 18 minutes to fix.

That’s why forward-thinking companies are looking for ways to remove the most tedious, painful parts of managing employee expenses. By automating your expense management, you’re able to reduce the chance of human error, take redundant tasks off your team’s plate and score better visibility over your business’s cash flow in real-time.

Not sure where to start? Let’s walk you through the key steps you need to take when automating expense management.

What is expense automation?

As the name suggests, expense automation is all about swapping manual reports and spreadsheets for tech-driven expense management platforms.

While each expense platform works slightly differently, the basics of expense automation include:

  • Use virtual cards to control employee spending, self-police your expense policy and remove the need for reimbursement altogether.
  • Instant expense review and approval processes that are managed entirely online.
  • Simple receipt capture software that allows you to attach receipts in seconds.
  • Real-time visibility of your team’s expenses using dashboards that allow you to catch potential fraud quickly and freeze cards and spending in a few clicks.

The benefits of expense automation are obvious, especially when you consider the drawbacks and costs of getting expense management wrong. Human error, duplicate expense claims, long reimbursement cycles and slow reporting can lead to unwanted out-of-scope spending and a heightened risk of expense fraud.

Plus, manual data entry and reconciliations are tasks that will bog down your finance teams and stop them from adding real value to your business. From your employees all the way through to your accountants, embracing expense automation will help you say goodbye to manual expense reports and hello to simple, automated processes.

Top tips for automating expense management

The best expense automation software is simple to set up, offers easy accounting integration and can easily scale as your business grows. If you’re automating your expense management processes for the first time, here are four tips to get the most out of your platform.

Use a card linked to an expense management platform

The best expense management platforms remove the need for expense approvals and report altogether. How? Well, many of them offer cards that give your team access to company funds, backed by in-built spending controls to protect your profits.

We’ve taken things one step further at Cape with our virtual cards, which are linked to physical cards but come with a different 16-digit number. They allow teams to create specific subscription cards to manage ongoing payments as well as one-off burner cards for specific projects or events.

Each card comes with a maximum spend limit, easy monitoring and instant usability so your new recruits can start using it without any training. Plus, you can freeze virtual cards in seconds if you spot an unexpected charge to ensure your accounts are never compromised.

Use OCR software and digital receipts

The days of physical receipts weighing down your wallet are gone. In the era of expense automation, tech steps in to capture and record receipts virtually.

The best expense platforms team up with optical character recognition (OCR) software to instant read photos of physical receipts and match these up with expense transactions in seconds.

This means no more lost receipts, no room for error and no double-handling of receipts.

Replenish card funds on a needs basis

Without the right expense management software in place, it can be easy to go over budget and let employee spending eat into your profits.

But with cards and real-time visibility over your budgets, you can see exactly what is being spent and when you need to top things up. By seeing what is being spent immediately, you can make adjustments to spending controls quickly and easily as needed.

Whether you set up automated monthly top-ups or give your teams on-off burner cards for specific projects, expense automation gives you the tools to move fast and stick to your budgets.

Find a platform that integrates with your accounting software

Ditch manual data entry for good with seamless accounting integration. The top automated expense management software will reconcile in real-time and get a full picture of your position quickly and easily.

With Cape, we allow you to sync all of your virtual cards to your ledger in one click. Plus, all other payment types can easily be synced once payment is made.

Our native integrations and custom exports allow you to effortlessly integrate Cape transactions and receipts into your existing system. Trust us, your finance team with thank you.

Sven von Sperl
October 12, 2021