If your business reimburses employees for out-of-pocket expenses (yourself included), you need a process to track and record those costs and make timely, accurate payments. But for many people, expense report filing ranks somewhere between going to the dentist and doing your taxes.
Several web-based services are out to ease the pain with easy-to-use, low-cost systems that make the expense reporting process as quick and easy as possible for small business owners. Choices include Expensify, Concur Breeze and ExpensePoint.
Concur Breeze (concurbreeze.com) is the small business version of the online expense management service that Concur has been offering bigger businesses since the 1990s. It's an all-in-one gig that lets you manage your entire business expense process online.
Expensify (expensify.com), which defines itself as "Expense reports that don't suck," can completely eliminate paper. For example, the system can import expense info directly from your credit card accounts (via nightly updates).
You can also import expenses via text message (to log cash outlays, for example), email your receipts or use your app-equipped smart phone to record expenses on the go. You can download the Expensify app at the Intuit Workplace App Center, Google Apps Marketplace and Salesforce AppExchange.
You can even snap a picture of receipts with your camera phone and send that to your file. Once all of your info is there, you can quickly assemble the expenses on the website. All of your imported, uploaded and logged business expenses are stored digitally and available 24/7. Working offline? Reports can also be saved as PDFs for review. Or to conduct a deeper dive into the numbers you can export all expenses into Excel to develop metrics for growth, monitor overall spending and build forecasts.
As you receive a new expense report, export it to QuickBooks (online or desktop versions) and attach it to a corresponding employee account. Expensify displays a list of accounts and lets you choose which employee submitted the report for reimbursement. With all expenses attached to an account in QuickBooks, pick the account to pay from and reimburse all work through QuickBooks. Simply select the employee or account to compensate and click "Write Check."
Most web-based systems also let you reimburse employees or contractors online, directly to their bank accounts. And you can use the Expensify application in SalesForce to link expenses directly to customer accounts.
Submitting reports is free with both Concur Breeze and Expensify. But there's a monthly fee to use the approval and reimbursement features of around $5 for each unique report submitter, with the first two free.
Other Benefits of Online Tracking
In addition to expense report basics, online services can also help you calculate business-related mileage, track time and convert currencies.
Managing expenses online can also help sole-proprietors keep business and personal expenses separate. For example, when you import a credit card into your online account, all expenses will be presented to you in an easy to manipulate format. Just remove all personal expenses from the list and leave only work-related spending. With a trimmed list of charges, add them to a report and find out what your operating costs are.
This can help you keep on top of your business. And with a service such as Expensify, you can create and submit expense reports to yourself for free, for as long as you want.
Managing expenses online can also help you make the most of business tax deductions and save time doing your taxes. Once your information has been imported the systems let you organize and group all expenses into various tax reporting categories. Whether you then prepare taxes yourself or take it to a tax pro, an organized list of expenses lessens time spent and helps keep more money in your own pocket.