Manual vs Automated Expense Reporting: 6 Reasons Why You Should Make the Switch Today

By Linda RoperNovember 24, 2020

-This article was last updated on 20 September 2022-

Corporate expenses are one of the most controllable expenses for businesses. Because they account for such a sizable portion of a company's cash outflow, they shouldn't be managed using paper records, torn receipts, or error-laden Excel spreadsheets, however.

Automated expense reporting

Managing business expenses is never a simple process, but if you automate the task, you can quickly improve the workflows in your company. Automation results in less paperwork and spreadsheets, less administrative effort, and quicker processing. An expense management system can also raise compliance rates at your company, while preventing expense fraud altogether.

In this blog, we take a closer look at automated expense reporting, while discussing how old school manual expense processes measure up to the new and improved reporting systems of our modern era.

Table of Contents

What is Automated Expense Reporting?

The automation of expense management refers to the total digitalisation of the process of collecting, submitting, and approving expense reports. Unlike manual expense reporting, the automated process makes use of cloud-based software, accessible applications, and real-time data to streamline the entire expense procedure.

Accounting teams use expense management automation to track expenditures, generate quick approvals on employee expense reports, and reimburse employees in a timely manner. This automatic system also ensures the organisation isn’t overspending on any expense categories.

Additionally, automated expense reporting can help to prevent expense fraud and human error, while tracking and providing real-time expense data to assist companies with better-informed decision-making.

Manual vs Automated Reporting: How do They Differ?

Now that you know what expense management automation is, let’s delve into the numerous differences it provides over manual expense reporting procedures. In doing so, you can determine if making the switch is right for your company.

automated expense reporting diagram

1. Flexibility

You should only use tools in any part of your business management that are suited to you. Flexibility is a great strength of the automated expense processing software, as it allows you to utilise only the features that are appropriate for your business.

For example, if your employees are on the road a lot, travelling with their personal or business cars, the mileage recording feature allows you to gain complete visibility to your employees’ travel data. However, if your staff is only using public transport, it might be sufficient, to create an expense claim for the train tickets.

Furthermore, automated travel expense reporting software deals in a variety of languages and currencies and is able to automatically calculate conversions based on the latest exchange rates.

2. Reporting

When you record expenses and transfer payments using a manual system, that is all that happens. An automated expense processing system, on the other hand, does much more with the data it processes, including accurately collating the data in the categories of your choosing.

This process offers a new depth of business analytics that can help you to optimise the use of money that flows through your business. Of course, this could be done manually, but that would be a long and expensive process—often requiring the hiring of data analysts. Instead, automated expense reporting utilises computerised data analysation to get the job done.

3. Receipt capture

This is a tedious, lengthy process with a manual system and receipts can easily be lost or misplaced. Not only does this create a bottleneck in the expense approval process, but lost receipts can also result in employees not being able to lodge—or qualify for—their expense claims.

Quality automated expense processing will enable you to capture receipts by simply taking a photograph of the document. It will then be stored with the other relevant details in your expense management account, ready to be included when you next make a claim.

When using ExpenseIn, for example, users can even forward their email receipts for booked flights or items paid for online to the app. ExpenseIn will then automatically create an expense ready for submission.

4. Portable expense management

When using a manual system, someone from the finance team has to be in the office in order for a claim to be made, along with your line manager to sign off on things. This takes up valuable time for an organisation that could be better used elsewhere.

With automated expense reporting, claims can be made wherever there’s a Wi-Fi signal, reducing the whole process down to a few moments. The company’s executives or finance team can simply log into their expense management portal from wherever they are—whether working from home or on the road.

5. Mobile Friendly

In addition to being able to be accessed from anywhere there’s Wi-Fi, expense management automation takes this one step further with its mobile-friendly nature. Not all automated expense reporting systems will have this feature, so you’ll want to ensure your cloud-based expense management software (like ExpenseIn) does.

ExpenseIn’s mobile app lets executives, finance team members, or employees manage and track their work-related expenses on-the-go. This means those in managerial positions can approve expenses while out and about using a few simple taps on their phone.

Similarly, employees can access the receipt scanning function in real-time, allowing them to submit their expense reports immediately after the expense occurs—like a client lunch, for example. This ease-of-use through a mobile device also equates to less delays in submitting or approving expenses, resulting in a win-win for all.

6. Instant reports

Using the data that’s captured, an automated expense processing system can instantly create reports that can be integrated with your accounting system. In order to generate reports automatically, the finance team may also set up an export schedule that can be sent right to their inbox or even your SFTP server. This means that once you’ve scheduled your reports in advance, you can focus your time on more urgent tasks. That’s yet another task you’d have to do from beginning to end with a manual system.

ExpenseIn, for example, lets you generate reports filtered by user, department, expense type, category, and more, to determine which department is spending the most.

The real-time reporting capabilities of the software also let you develop strategies based on current data. This means that company decisions will be based on up-to-date statistics and trends, therefore increasing its effectiveness.

Make the Switch to Automated Expense Reporting with ExpenseIn

When it comes to the modern era of expense management, “out with the old and in with the new” certainly applies.

In a nutshell, choosing between a manual and automated expense reporting system is a no-brainer. Automated expense management is quicker, more cost-effective, and generally superior in every way. And if you’re concerned about not being technology-savvy, fear not. Automated expense processing is designed to be user-friendly, as companies offer support around the clock to ensure you never find yourself adrift.