6 reasons to stop using spreadsheets for expense management

Because we’re human, there’s a tendency for us to be resistant to change – just look how reluctant people are to move to another bank. And when it comes to using Excel as your small business expense management software, that could be a very expensive ‘tradition’, and one you can ill afford. Here are six reasons why; and why you should think about switching to online expense management as soon as possible.

Hands up all those getting to work by horse and cart. No-one? Thought not. What was once the best way of travelling has long been overtaken, literally and metaphorically, by more efficient solutions.

And so it is with business management systems in general and expense management software in particular. Don’t misunderstand the message; Excel is still a powerful data manipulation tool, telling the story behind the numbers. But for expense management, it’s not the best game in town. Here’s why:

Reason 1:  It can be expensive. To work out the cost for your business, work out how much time is being spent by those who have to collate the numbers, and then fire them back and forth in your own approvals process before they can be paid. Factor in the time taken in making sure the accountants have the right data, and the time they take to process it. Multiply that time by the notional hourly rates for the people doing the work, and that’s what it’s costing your company. Chances are not only that you’ve never done the calculation, but that you may well be surprised at the total when you do.
Now consider how much time – and money ­– could be saved by switching to cloud based expense management software like Solo Expenses, which allows automation of several elements, saving time, and therefore money, on each one.

Reason 2: It invites fraud. We wouldn’t for a moment want to suggest that your employees were dishonest, but by the law of averages someone, somewhere, in some company must have claimed more than they were entitled to.  What’s to stop it having been yours? How about adding a few miles to a journey, or two people who’d traveled together each making a claim on their own expenses. Is your system sufficiently robust to pick up on that? Solo Expenses offers the facility to photograph receipts. If those pictures have to be produced as part of the claim, this online expense reporting software would eliminate duplication if only numbers were involved.

 Reason 3: Keeps private and company money apart: Like oil and water, private and company money don’t – or shouldn’t – mix. Picking the right business expense software package from the ones offered, Solo Expenses allows company credit cards to by synchronised to expense accounts, so any spend on them is kept within the company. No cash changes hands; no private credit cards are involved, and the whole expense management system become more transparent.

 Reason 4: It’s prone to error. I just mistyped ‘error’, and had to go back to correct it. A spelling mistake is easy to see; with numbers it’s less obvious, especially when there are lots of them to be ploughed through and time is limited, such as the insurance policy devalued by £3,000 when someone, somewhere, typed in a final value of £333.73 instead of £3333.73. All of those claim errors will get lost in your system, and appear, unknown to you, in a reduced bottom line at the year end.

Reason 5: You’re missing a trick. Expenses claims are collections of numbers relating to your business. Curated and interrogated properly, those numbers can be a rich source of intelligence with a valuable contribution to make to your business efficiency.  With the help of cloud based expense management software, which can create customised reports, you have the power to pick out spending patterns that, with a little adjustment, could show how to improve cashflow, retain more cash in the business, and ultimately improve profitability.

Reason 6: You could have the alternative for nothing. Solo Expenses was the first company to create expense management software exclusively for sole traders. Today it offers four service levels of the same core software. The first is a free-to-download ‘Household use’ package that we’ll never charge you for. The others are aimed at Business Owners and SMEs (within one, claims require approval, and which isn’t the case in the other) and then the big brother ‘Enterprise’ version aimed at companies with employees numbering into the thousands. With the exception of ‘Household Use’, which is already free, the others could work out to be so, not only because they’re competitively priced to begin with but also because they could be the route to savings far greater than the amount you’ll invest in getting them into your organisation.


Picture: Photodynamx | Dreamstime