Choose the Right Expense Management Tool for Your Growing Business

Whether you have a handful of employees or a hundred, trying to be successful with the wrong expense management tool is cumbersome and frustrating. Using an unfriendly interface can lead to an error-filled report that creates a time consuming process for everyone. It can also increase the likelihood of user error or lead to employees reporting very late-- or even not reporting at all due to pure dread of interacting with the tool.

Perhaps you're worried about inaccuracy and fraud, or maybe you're simply looking for a more feature-rich and friendly interface to make life easier. Whatever expensing challenge you're facing, we built this guide to enable your small business to pick an expense management tool that pleases everyone.

When reviewing the various tools available on the market, it's important to know your priorities. After all, an expense management tool isn't just about making it easy for employees to input expenses. It's also important that the approver can quickly access and handle the report.

In other words, it needs to be easy-to-use for all parties. It should have an intuitive interface and certain must-have features so that it works seamlessly for your company.

When it comes to adoption and consistent use of your expense management software, simplicity is the name of the game. This is even more true if you have one or more employees who travel frequently for work. Being able to input expenses on the go and request timely approval are major factors. Here are some tools that fit the bill.

The Top 4 Expense Management Tools Available

1) Expensify

Be it gas, food, or flights, Expensify enables employees to easily report on any work-related expense.This tool tends to be managed mainly from the web interface, but they also offer an optional mobile application, which you'll certainly want to use. The interface is considered both feature-rich and intuitive. Plus, this platform has a plethora of integrations available. However, you will want to take into account the per-user pricing, which many reviews bring up.

Why You'll Love It: Seamless Mobile Logging

If your team is not able to access an expense management tool from a phone, there is absolutely no way you can expect timely reporting. In a perfect world, employees would track each expense immediately after purchase, and a quality mobile app will make that happen.

With the Expensify mobile app, your team will be able to use their phone or tablet's built-in features to really track their expenses on the go. Most expense management tools these days offer an app, but Expensify has gone the extra mile. Receipt scanning, GPS-enabled mile logging, and easy categorization make the Expensify app stand out. These things encourage users to report purchases as soon as they're made because it makes the process of doing so easier.

Just take it from a verified Capterra user who states: "[Expensify] works on multiple platforms, although the mobile app is the most useful. Submit and edit expenses anytime, anywhere. I've yet to come across anything else that works as well. This will save you time and money, and most importantly help your employees maintain their sanity while filing accurate expenses."

2) Zoho Expense

Zoho Expense is another powerful expense tracking tool that's worth considering. Within the friendly platform, your team can automate expense recording, track mileage, and submit expense reports on the go. With its feature-rich interface, it's no surprise that it comes highly praised by users. Real-time approval, quick reimbursements, and competitive user pricing make Zoho Expense a top pick.

Why You'll Love It: Efficient and User-Friendly Digital Solution

In dramatically reducing the time required to record receipts, prepare expense reports, and get them approved, Zoho Expense is focused on automating business travel expense management. That’s why Zoho Expense is a true perk for traveling employees, managers, and finance teams who have stacks of expense reports awaiting approval.

If your expense management tool does not brag about its ability to produce visual, extensive reports, you need to look elsewhere. Reporting is, by far, one of the most critical features of an expense management tool. If you can’t see what you’re spending at a quick glance, it’s much harder to track, and to share with company management.

For companies looking to automate employees’ expense reporting, see how other teams have found success in leveraging Zoho Expense as their go-to solution. In a featured case study, foodpanda’s head of finance, Eva Versloot, highlights how Zoho Expense offers the optimal balance between price and required features. With their “finance department wasting too much time processing and reconciling expenses on pieces of paper with stapled receipts,” foodpanda was looking to move to a digital environment to find a more efficient, user-focused and environmentally friendly way. As she discovered, “Zoho Expense came out as the one with the most interesting balance between price and required features.”.

Zoho Expense’s powerful analytics allows both leadership and employees to get a quick view into business expenditures anytime. Plus, teams can even customize and create up to 30+ highly customizable reports, including a breakdown into “actual vs. budgeted” expenses.

After all, without concise, accurate, easy-to-generate reports, your expense management tool will fail. It's as simple as that because your company has to have strong reporting in order to monitor and control spending.

3) Tallie

"The quickest path from receipt to balance sheet." That's the slogan for Tallie, which promises a reporting process that takes just seconds to complete. Reimbursement and reconciliation is easy, allowing accountants to approve and export transactions directly into your bill pay systems. They also offer a 14-day free trial so that you can test out the well-liked system for yourself.

Why You'll Love It: Integrated Receipt Management

Tallie is the perfect solution for a receipt-based business, offering not only expense management, but also seamless record keeping. Reviewers love the mobile app for being able to upload receipts on-the-go, but more than anything, they like the all-around automation that takes the pain out of paper-based accounting.

One verified reviewer, Cheryl, has used the software for over ten years and says she likes the "automatic bundling of expenses into an open expense report for non-reimbursables (corporate credit card) vs. reimbursables." Other reviewers agree, with Claudia also mentioning not only the mobile scanning capabilities but the third-party integrations that keep receipt tracking simple and hands-off.

She states: "We've tried other expense reporting systems and what Tallie does that we've had difficulty finding elsewhere is its ability to be used to capture receipts. The app and website are both intuitive. The expense reports are easy to read. We love that it connects to Bill.com, which we use to reimburse our clients' employees! However, some clients also use it to store receipts for everything they buy with their credit cards. The receipts are automatically matched with each downloaded transaction. Their QuickBooks integration is great because unlike some other systems, they import each transaction individually with vendor, account, and class data. This makes reconciling credit cards at the end of the month quite easy."

4) Certify

 

Certify promises powerful, simple, automated reporting for both employees and your finance staff. It's all about accurate reporting and includes built-in payment and invoice management software. Users love the clean online interface. Plus, the mobile application makes for easy, timely reporting anywhere an employee may be.

If you are prioritizing robust reporting capabilities across travel, team expenses, and invoices, Certify might be a top tool to consider.

Why You'll Love It: An All-In-One Solution with Endless Support

If your business has more complex accounting needs, Certify should be at the top of your list. It's travel, expense, and invoice management bundled into one intuitive platform. Although a complete onboarding and training program is included, you will also be confident knowing that the 24/7 support team is always available to answer questions. Like other tools featured here, Certify offers a mobile app and reporting, but where it really shines is its ability to do-it-all without being overwhelming.

A keyword that you'll find throughout most reviews says it all: "everything." People praise Certify again and again for being able to do so much. One user states: "Certify has changed my outlook on completing expense reports. Instead of drowning in paper receipts and scratching my head trying to remember what happened weeks (or sometimes months!) ago, Certify and its mobile app make it a breeze to keep track of everything. The amount of time and stress spent on the reimbursement process has been significantly reduced."

Selecting The Right Tool

After you have started to look at the various tools available on the market, you should go through the steps to make the right choice for your business. 

Identify Issues With Existing Systems

Understanding the shortcomings of your current expense management process is the first step in finding a better option. There are many places where your current process could be failing your business, and metrics and analytics can do wonders in helping you understand where there is room for improvement.

For instance, if you are currently using a manual submission process, you are probably seeing a lengthy delay in reporting. Manual submission is tedious, so most employees will probably hoard receipts. They'll wait until they have multiple purchases to report before they do, which makes it harder to monitor spending and leads to a slower approval process.

If you are already using an expensing tool, you may have identified some pitfalls within the product itself. For instance, if it is not mobile-friendly, it is definitely hindering employees from reporting purchases on the spot. This leads to the same delays as not having a tool at all, and can also lead to employees losing receipts or forgetting to report expenses all together.

Collect Input From End Users

In order to identify the issues you are facing with your current system, sit down and speak to your employees about their pain points. Is it cumbersome to input information? Is the entire process too time consuming? Let them know that you are looking to upgrade the tool and that you want their input to ensure the new solution meets their needs. Try using simple tools like SurveyMonkey to gather and report on feedback.

After you have spoken to users and looked at patterns and reports, you can identify where your current expense management system is coming up short. Then, you know exactly what technological requirements to prioritize for your company.

Determine Technological Requirements

The most basic technological requirement is to identify which operating system your company needs. If all of your employees work from iOS devices, you know that you need to find a tool that is compatible with iOS. If it's web-based, it should work seamlessly on Google Chrome and Safari.

The toughest requirement to fulfill is finding a single tool that works across all of the systems your team uses. After all, it's likely that your employees use a mixture of devices. However, finding a multi-platform tool is entirely possible, especially with web-based (non-native) applications.

A trickier technological requirement to fulfill is finding an expense management system that will integrate with your existing tools. Integrations will help your team avoid data silos and make for more accurate reports. It will also ensure compatibility and streamlined workflows, even as different systems are upgraded.

Implement and Educate

As with any tool, the key to a successful implementation and adoption process is employee education. You should get your employees excited about using the tool, and help them get in a regular habit. A great way to do this is to show-off all of the ways it will make expense reporting quicker and simpler for them. Demonstrate how the new tool makes their job easier, and they will certainly be on board.

So, how do you currently handle your expense management? Share in the comments below which tools you've tried at your company and what works best for your team. Also, tell us what tools you want to try out. Out of the four featured here, you're sure to find a new solution worth considering.