State of expense management

Are you still using spreadsheets to go about your expense management?


This could prove detrimental to the health of your business. With the world going digital, it is crucial for businesses to automate whatever they can, to use their productive time, otherwise. This E-book will help you understand the nuances of automating your expense management software and the added benefits it brings. Old is gold, but the same does not hold good at all times. Keeping up with the trends is crucial for growth and scale. If you are currently using an archaic method to manage your expenses, here are some reasons you should consider otherwise.

Disadvantages of using traditional expense management system:

  • Time-consuming: Manual data entry and verification, both cost your finance teams and employees crucial productive hours.

  • Higher chances of human error: Human error could occur either while inputting data for an expense claim, or while validating data for an expense claim. This could result in businesses losing large sums of money, without even noticing what’s causing the problem.

  • Increase chances of fraudulent claims: With stringent deadlines, missing receipts and a tad bit of greed, employees may opt for ways of making a few quick bucks.This could be done through incorrect or exaggerated claims, duplicate bills and more.

  • No visibility into spending trends: Not having sufficient insight into what the data is trying to convey to you, may result in employers or admins making ill-informed decisions, which could have adverse effects on the company.

  • A decrease in productivity and efficiency: With your employees and finance teams wasting manpower and effort doing something that could merely be automated, businesses run the risk of employees and finance teams spending too much time in reporting, claiming and validating expenses.


4 Reasons to consider automating your expense management software:


  1. Save oodles of money: As per a study conducted by PayStream Advisors, companies approximately spend $20.18 to process an expense report. Multiply this with the number of traveling employees you have and the number of reports filed every month. You know this means big money. Big money which is utilized on unnecessary spends which could have been curbed at the source.


  2. Increase compliance and accountability: Businesses using traditional means of handling expense management almost always have little to no insight into the expenses claimed. Automation as the name suggests, automates all these processes for you, with virtually no human intervention.


  3. Save productive hours: Manual work, be it data entry or verification of claimed spends, can be a daunting task. This requires tons of patience, manpower, effort and hours of huddling around. Looking through multiple expense submissions, comparing and validating expense claims, and having various back and forths when there are policy violations are just some of the things admins and finance teams deal with on a regular basis.

    But what if we told you, automation can solve this entire challenge?

    With an automated expense management software, admins and finance teams would spend less than half the time they spend while using traditional methods. Employees can directly upload images of receipts, where the expense management software can automatically extract specifics from it. Additionally, once all the receipts have been submitted, employees can directly generate an expense report within minutes. What generally would have taken hours to compile and submit can now be dealt with, within a few clicks.


  4. Increase employee satisfaction and morale: It is vital to keep employee satisfaction as one of the critical attributes to gauging the health of a business. Happy employees would mean improved productivity and efficiency. While on business trips, employees are required to use their personal money for the company. Hence, reimbursing them on time via seamless processes is crucial. Automation of your expense management process aims at

    reducing work for your employees, thereby showing, you value their time and effort in the betterment of your business.


The path to automation

Champion automation in your oraganisation

Automating your expense management comes with multiple benefits such as saving productive hours, decreased reimbursement times, reduced fraud and errors, increased employee happiness, achieving a ROI of up to 500% and more!

Companies today understand the value of automating T&E, but get horrified on the thought of taking up this project due to multiple reasons.


Here are some reasons businesses dread T&E:

  • Impact on the entire company: Unlike ERP implementation, T&E as a process impacts all departments such as finance, HR, IT, Sales and all your business travelers
  • Establishing ROI for internal buying and getting consent from stakeholders
  • Limited time and insight to evaluate potential vendors
  • Preparing a project plan with timelines
  • Document travel & expense policies
  • Manage the on-boarding process and training for all employees to increase the rate of adoption

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Using the features mentioned above can help businesses build morale and enable employees to feel more valued; while also reaping the benefits of an automated expense management software.


Benefits of using an automated expense management software:

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Word of advice, when it comes to picking the right expense management software for your business:

  • Jot down all the challenges you are currently facing with your expense management system (conventional or otherwise.)
  • Allocate a budget depending on the number of employees you have, the stage of your business and more. You can customize these variables based on your business requirements.
  • Make use of the “Free Trial” or request demos to gain a better understanding of the expense management software you wish to proceed with.
  • Ensure the system you opt for addresses all your expense management pain points.
  • Step into the new-age system of seamlessly managing your expense management woes.

Steps involved while picking an expense management software:

  • Understand the nuances of your current expense management system
  • Get the entire team on board
  • Evaluate the product market fit of the shortlisted solutions
  • Implementation process and project execution
  • Post-implementation evaluation

Step 1

Nuances of your existing process


“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.”

- Thomas Edison


With the above thought in mind, let's prepare and plan to streamline your expense management process.

Even before you start to plan, gather as much information as possible from all stakeholders about your current process and problems that you want to solve. Identifying your pain points will help provide clarity while evaluating various expense management tools. Additionally, identifying these pain points will help you during your implementation, execution and post-implementation exercises.


Aspects to consider before evaluating vendors:


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  1. Identify and define the problems in the current process that you wish to address

  2. Here’s a checklist of all information you should have before starting the vendor evaluation stage:


    • Data: Details regarding the number of expense reports, frequent users, amount claimed every month, year, and more.

    • Nature of expense claimed: Mileage, travel, mobile expenses, per diem, and more.

    • Current (TurnAround Time) TAT: Time taken to submit, approve, and verify expenses. It also helps calculate the time taken to initiate payouts and gain insight into the bottlenecks causing a delay in faster processing of a filed expense.

    • Fraudulent behavior: Eliminated duplicate bills, errors caused due to manual data entry, flag and notify respected individuals for expenses being flagged for policy violations.

    • Tools used: Details on HRMS, ERP or accounting tools and integration needs

    • Multi-currency and multi-entity setup requirements.

    • Problems faced by all personas: expense claimant approver, verification, travel admin, travel desk and reimbursement processing team and more.

    • Reporting & Management Information System (MIS) requirements.


  3. Insight into the current travel and expense policies within your organization

  4. Getting detailed insight into your current T&E policies will help in evaluating potential vendors. Additionally, you can share these policies with your vendor to configure them into your preferred T&E tool.

    If you do not have defined policies or if they are vague, work with your HR team to get a high-level strategy in place. You can also share these policies with your T&E vendor at a later stage as part of the policy review by your vendor. Ensure that all the policies are well documented and agreed upon at this stage. This would help set the pretext for your expectations from the T&E tool of your choice.

    Having a well-defined policy in place is crucial. Not having one may result in increased changes of fraudulent behavior, policy violations, multiple back and forths between finance teams and employees, to name a few. All in all, it is safe to say that you can avoid wasting hours of productive time used buried behind receipts and expense reports!


  5. Technological and security requirements

  6. It is crucial to ensure utmost security when it comes to managing your expense management tool.

    Some of the requirements to keep in mind are:

    • Cloud: Any security needs on keeping data on cloud
    • Risk team questionnaire, if any
    • IT team: Integration requirement with HRMS, ERP, etc

  7. Functional requirements

  8. There are a lot of T&E vendors who offer a fundamental tool, which is equivalent to a glorified spreadsheet.

    However, customer happiness paves our product road map. We at Fyle, focus on both the user experience as well as configuring workflow as per your requirements. Fyle handles features like data extraction from email and paper receipts, automated mileage tracking, real-time policy checks, multi-country and multi-entity workflows, integration with corporate credit cards, mobile, and web app, to name a few. All our features are custom-built to help address and resolve your expense management challenges, forever!


  9. Budgeting

  10. It is essential for you to ask the following questions before you delve into the topic of budgeting:

    • How much are you willing to spend?
    • What are your expected cost savings?

    Getting this information will help you calculate your ROI. Having an idea about your ROI will help you understand how much you can save and under which category. Additionally, it will help you understand whether the particular investment is worth the buy or not.

As per a report submitted by Paystream Advisors (2017),the total average cost of submitting an expense report manually is $26.63, while a fully automated TEM tool such as Fyle cuts this cost down to a mere $6.85.


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Step 2

Get your team onboard


Before you make the transition from the conventional means to an automated expense management software, it is essential to have your entire team on-board for the process. This can be done via various channels, be it emails, company newsletters, word-of-mouth communication, and other messaging channels used within the company.


Here is how this decision will affect your employees:


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Step 3

Evaluate the product market fit of the shortlisted solutions


Top 5 accounting challenges that expense management software can fix:


  1. Unclear travel expense policies:

  2. Let’s face it, your employees don’t pay much heed to your expense policies. Most knowledge that employees have about expense policies are either due to word-of-mouth, or because they, or their friends fell victim to certain expense policy violations. Often, unclear insight into policies almost always lead to policy violations. This means, hours which could have otherwise been spent productively are now wasted in manual policy checks, back and forth with employees and unnecessary discomfort caused to both parties.

    Once an expense has been flagged, typically the entire expense report gets stalled. Then via emails, phone calls or verbal conversations, employees provide explanations for the violations. Almost always, undocumented. This leads to further decreased visibility into the entire process. Once all this is sorted, the employee would get reimbursed long after deadlines. Thus, it's easy to assume, this is one of the leading reasons why employers and employees alike dread the entire reimbursement process.

    With Fyle, organizations can update their policies into the software. Once this is done, every time an employee uploads an expense claim, the claim undergoes real-time policy checks for any violations. If the expense claim violates a policy, the claim gets flagged. On getting flagged, both the employer and the employee get notified about the same.

    The employee can then provide detailed explanations, after which the admin or the approver can either accept or reject the expense claim. Additionally, a complete audit trail for all conversations, allow you to always stay audit-ready. This would not only fasten the process for both employees and the finance team, but also add a layer of transparency about the process.


  3. Expense visibility:

  4. It is crucial for an organization to have visibility into the spends of its employees. With insight into the expenses claimed, finance teams and admins can understand the spending trends among business travelling employees, high spend categories, frequently associated vendors, category-wise spends, most spending employees and more. Incomplete insights into these variables could lead to potential roadblocks during the audit processes.


    Based on insights into spending trends businesses can:


    • Validate or modify estimated budgets on spends
    • Alter or make additions to expense policies keeping finds in mind
    • Identify and negotiate discounts with frequently associated vendors
    • Calculate ROI by measuring money invested in acquisition of specific deals

    With Fyle, you can automate all these processes to have a well documented and seamless process. Admins or finance executives can gain insight into spending trends, frequently associated vendors and all other measures under one single dashboard. This encourages admins to hold more accountability into the spending trends of employees. Additionally, this allows for admins to take well-informed decisions when it comes to policy reforms, budget allocations, discount negotiations and more.


  5. Overlooking employee T&E trends:

  6. A key aspect of expense management is to derive insight from the recorded spending trends. Admins and finance teams need to pay attention to policy violations and fraudulent behavior. If there are certain policies that are frequently violated by employees, chances are the policy may need upgradations. If fraudulent behavior is flagged by the system, employees can follow through with concerned employees for course correction.


  7. Inefficient processes resulting in delayed reimbursements:

  8. Even though current expense management solutions offer automation, some businesses still find it hard to move from the traditional systems. These systems allow for little to no automation, thereby costing employers, time, manpower and effort which could have been utilized otherwise. Most traditional expense management software require employees to manually enter expense data, and employers to manually verify the submitted data.

    Additionally, human intervention increases the chances of error, further leading to incomplete records, acceptance of fraudulent claims, audit-related problems, and the list goes on.


    How does Fyle address your automation challenges:


    With Fyle, you can automate all these processes with our automatic data extraction software. All you would have to do is click a picture of the receipt you wish to claim and Fyle does the rest for you. Automating your system allows for reduced chances of error, elimination of human bias in manual entry and verification, streamlines the entire process and has detailed documentation of all the above mentioned processes.

    What’s more?

    It’s an easy, quick and intuitive process which requires little to no human supervision.


    Solving customer challenges drives the product roadmap of Fyle. Every feature we offer has been created to solve the crux of the problem. By automating and streamlining processes, Fyle does the thinking for you, allowing you to use your productive hours wisely.

    With so many T&E tools available, finalizing a good fit for your company can be a daunting task. However, it also gives hope to finding the best solution catering to your expense management needs!


We have compiled a basic list (in order of importance) to help you find the best T&E solution for your business:


Prepare a list with all your specific requirements (As discussed in Step 1)

Classify all your features under the following criteria:

  • Must-haves
  • Nice-haves
  • Prepare a list of vendors that resonate with your all your requirements. You can get a list of competing vendors here.
  • Check on the scalability of the shortlisted T&E vendors
  • Compare user experience, features, user reviews and prices of shortlisted vendors
  • Request a demo of free trial from the shortlisted vendors.
  • Test out the product and see if the system can be configured as per your workflow and policy requirements
  • Get a customer reference to understand how organizations who currently use the product respond to it
  • Finalize the T&E tool you wish to go forward with

Step 4

Implementation Process


Now comes the exciting stage of implementing your brand new expense management tool.

Timelines for implementation can vary from hours to months depending on various factors such as the size of your company, complexity of policies, multi-country setup, and more.

At this stage, proper communication is critical for both internal employees and external vendors. Ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page concerning responsibilities, timelines, and dependencies.


This is how the implementation process works at Fyle

The implementation process is dependent very much on the size of your company. While small companies opt for direct implementation and full roll-out, larger enterprises typically run a pilot with few sets of users. This helps to understand how the users respond to the new system, based on their needs.

The pilot gives your employees and finance teams a feel of the real-time environment with a limited set of users. This will help you determine whether the product is a good fit for your business or not.


Running a Pilot test to check for best-fit:

Make sure that you select users from all functions to get buy-in for the pilot test. Additionally, it is crucial to have an extensive user onboarding kit, training material and video materials for easy adoption. At the end of the pilot period, ensure your finance team gathers feedback, makes the required adjustments and then prepare for a smooth full launch.

Congratulations, you now have internal champions who will help you endorse the product within your organization.


Internal communication:

Regardless of how you decide to implement your expense management tool, it is important you get your employees on-board. As high adoption rates are crucial to the success of the entire project, it is crucial that your employees are excited about the new tool. You can communicate this via email or during lunch & learn sessions or any other innovative ways that come to mind.


Step 5

Post- Implementation Process


The post-implementation process, as the name suggests is a process for employers or finance teams to evaluate whether their goals and objectives have been met or not. It is also an essential way for businesses to streamline their processes. It is the last stage of any project cycle and most likely, always involves an independent party. This helps in providing a bias-free analysis into what is working or not working for the business.

An ideal time frame for a business to undertake the post-implementation review is usually three to six months post-implementation. By this time, you would have completed multiple payment cycles, and both employers and finance teams would have a fair idea of how the software works.


What is a post-implementation review?


A post-implementation review allows your finance teams or employers to quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate the cause and effect and undertaking certain decisions; in this case, selecting an automated expense management software

Even though you are successfully using a particular software, it is crucial for you to understand if the solution is addressing your challenges. This review will help you judge the viability of the software, and help you decide if it was worth the buy. Further, the evaluation can help businesses in not repeating the same mistakes in the future. It is also an excellent way for companies to identify project successes, achievements, learnings and more.


Here’s a quick checklist to evaluate your T&E project:


  • Were your primary challenges regarding expense management addressed?
  • Did your employees positively adapt to the new system?
  • Did this change have a positive impact on employee satisfaction?
  • Has the automated expense management software help in decreasing the turnaround time in terms of expense report submissions, approval checks, and final payouts?
  • Has the integration with the HRMS and Accounting tool impacted the efficiency and overall productivity of your employees?
  • Is there any reduction in fraud or error rates after using an automated expense management software?
  • Is there better compliance with T&E policies amongst employees while submitted an expense report?
  • Have the analytics from the new tool and if finance team has acted on the same
  • Do you have better negotiation power with vendors, now that you have insight into the spending trends of your employees?

Return of Investment

You are one step closer to solving your expense management challenges

What is ROI and how does it matter?

ROI drives everything. Even Expense Management.

Growing up, we all dreaded report cards. Report cards gave us insight into our strengths and weakness, indicated areas of improvement and flagged aspects which needed our urgent attention. Without report cards, we were left with little to no insight into how our efforts were panning out. Understanding ROI serves the same purpose.

ROI is a measure for performance, which can be used to gain insight and compare the efficiency of an investment. Since ROI is measured by percentage, it makes it incredibly useful to compare with other investments, to check if it’s is worth the buy or not.

In this case, if you were using the traditional means to manage your expense management calculate the ROI in terms of amount, time and effort invested in the conventional methods. This could be both, quantitative and qualitative in nature. Adding a numerical value to ascertain your business hypotheses, is crucial for growth and scale.


What does ROI measure: ROI measures the amount of returns on a particular investment. This is relative to the associated investment cost.


How to calculate ROI:

ROI = (Gain from a specific Investment - Cost of a specific Investment) / Cost of a specific Investment

Here,

Gain from a specific Investment = All the proceeds which have been obtained from the sale of the investment, in case

Cost of a specific Investment = The total amount spent by the business in owning a particular software, in this case.


How can you be the champion for change to help your company enter the digital era of expense management


Now that you have already done your research, finalized on the software you wish to go ahead it, it becomes incredibly important for you to also make the case to pursue your seniors to making the buy.

Calculate and document the ROI for all key aspects: This could either be quantitative or qualitative, in nature. Once done, conduct a comparative study to evaluate how the change has impacted the business and processes.


Some of the aspects you could measure are:

  • Number of productive hours saved
  • Turnaround time for reimbursements
  • Increase or decrease in the overall costs for processing an expense report
  • Increase or decrease in the number of fraudulent claims
  • Increase or decrease in manual entries while filing expense claims
  • Increase or decrease in overall employee satisfaction

Make sure your senior executives understand your learnings derived from shifting from the conventional means to the automated methods to manage your expense reports.

Share the possible reasons for the change and the benefits this will bring to the employees and the company. This will help them be more open to change. Moreover, implementing a T&E tool could be the perfect opportunity to show your employees how your organization keeps up with the technological trends, to ensure employee satisfaction.

Depending on the size of the company, the preferred mode of communication can be a simple email or a detailed onboarding session. Companies like Fyle provide you with an onboarding kit to help encourage a higher adoption rate within your company.

Also, Fyle is so intuitive and easy to use that users are up and running with minimal training. This further helps in achieving better ROI.

However, ensure that you have a detailed training session for your accounting or finance teams to bring them to pace with the new tool of choice.


Tip: Helping your employees understand the nuances of extracting Management Information System (MIS), report verification, maintaining master data, and how to handle changes in any of these areas will prove to be extremely useful.


With these answers in hand, you can now drive your company towards the digital era of expense management.

Getting a system like Fyle will give you best in class features along with ensuring ROIs of upto 500% and impeccable 24*7 customer support.

State of expense management

Are you still using spreadsheets to go about your expense management?


This could prove detrimental to the health of your business. With the world going digital, it is crucial for businesses to automate whatever they can, to use their productive time, otherwise. This E-book will help you understand the nuances of automating your expense management software and the added benefits it brings. Old is gold, but the same does not hold good at all times. Keeping up with the trends is crucial for growth and scale. If you are currently using an archaic method to manage your expenses, here are some reasons you should consider otherwise.

Index

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