The Reliance on Spreadsheets for Expense Management

By EmmaSeptember 28, 2016

-This article was last updated on 21 September 2021-

Spreadsheets are still a widely employed method of data management ever since the introduction of Microsoft Excel over thirty years ago. Businesses can organise data such as their expenses on a familiar system that most companies already have installed. A survey by Getdata found that 35.9% of businesses track their expenses using Excel spreadsheets. It cannot be disputed that the popularity of this software pays testament to its jack of trades approach. Spreadsheets can be used for data input, analysis, all the way through to reporting. However, there has been much debate as to whether spreadsheets are being ‘spread too thin’ and there are limits as to how far they can be stretched.

The image shows a person working on a spreadsheet on their computer

Online Expense Management Spreadsheets

There is an abundance of different expense spreadsheet templates that can be found online. Google ‘expense spreadsheet’ and you will be inundated with results. For the majority of these you select an expense type from a list then manually enter a description and the amount. You then get a breakdown of your totals for each section and a grand total. One template can be used month on month to create a consistent set of records. However, having to update bespoke templates that have been created internally can be an issue. Sending out the updated spreadsheets to employees and relying on them to act on it means you run the risk of having mismatched spreadsheets and creating errors.

The Disadvantages of Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets can be useful for a variety of business needs, but it is exactly this trait that limits them. While you may be able to achieve your goal using spreadsheets it is normally not the most efficient way of doing so. Often a tailor made solution will save a lot of time and money by streamlining processes and automating many long tasks. Using spreadsheets for expense management relies on data being stored on individual computers and then being passed down the line of expense approvers. As a result company compliance is often compromised. Once approved, the finance department would then have to manually review the expenses, spending valuable time validating each expense claim against HMRC regulations and company policies. On top of that they have to simultaneously crosscheck receipts against expense claims. It can only take one person to make an error to break the chain of compliance.

The Alternative?

ExpenseIn offers a chance to revolutionise the way you handle your expenses. Data entry becomes as easy as taking a picture on your phone. This can then free up staff time by eliminating manual data entry. There is no passing on of spreadsheets down a line as everything is centrally stored on the cloud. This helps to save time but also to increase visibility and drive up compliance.