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As a business incurs expenses (everything from entertainment to office supplies), it becomes critical to establish a systematic process for approvals. Expense approvals ensure that all employee spending is aligned with budgets, company policies, and compliance requirements.
One solution is to implement expense management automation strategies to enhance financial controls, mitigate risk, and create a greater level of transparency.
Manual and paper-based processes are time-consuming and error-prone. To address these challenges, companies are turning to expense approval software to streamline the expense management process, from submission to approval and expense reimbursement.
In this article, we’ll explore the top end-to-end expense approval software platforms, including the best features, and how to implement the right solution for your needs.
What is Expense Approval Software?
Expense approval software is designed to automate and streamline the process of managing and approving expenses. It helps a company efficiently handle expense requests, monitor spending, and ensure compliance with company policies.
Expense management software offers a multitude of features, like:
Staff can submit their employee expense reports electronically. You can attach receipts to the expense claim, enter relevant details, and categorize expenses.
Custom Approval Workflows
Expense approval software enables the creation of customizable approval workflows. This form of expense approval automation allows expenses to be routed to the appropriate departments or managers for review and approval.
It also ensures that expenses are reviewed by the relevant personnel, in accordance with the business hierarchy. The technology works to streamline the entire approval process.
At times, spend management can get away from finance teams. In this case, the software enforces expense policies by validating expense claims against predefined limits and rules.
An expense management system can check for duplicate entries, policy compliance, and suspicious expenses, greatly reducing the chances of fraudulent claims.
An expense management platform sends automated notifications and messaging to remind managers and employees, keeping them updated on the status of pending approvals and expense claims.
3rd Party Integrations
The software you choose should also have the ability to easily integrate with other popular financial and accounting systems. This allows the seamless transfer of approved expenses to reimbursement, and further financial processing.
The expense reporting process can be lengthy and complex without a little help. Expense approval software provides features for reporting and analytics to analyze business spend, identify cost-saving opportunities, and generate in-depth reports for auditing purposes.
Whether you run a small business or a large enterprise, visibility into expenses is critical. Expense approval software gives a company real-time visibility into expense status and progress. Managers can easily review pending, approved, and rejected expenses, allowing them to better monitor spend, and make more informed decisions.
Leveraging expense management platforms allows a business to streamline the expense approval process, ensure policy compliance, reduce manual paperwork, and improve the overall efficiency of managing expenses. This type of fintech creates a more controlled environment for tracking and managing corporate spending.
Best Expense Approval Software Solutions
The best expense approval software solution for your business is going to depend on a variety of factors, like:
- Integration needs
- Specific requirements
- User preferences
- And more…
This may leave you a little flustered when it comes time to find the best solution. Fear not! We have compiled a list of highly-regarded, well-known brands that are simplifying expense management for thousands of companies, right now.
|Reporting||In-depth spend analysis features to identify patterns and cost-savings.||Generate insights into spend patterns, identify cost savings, and track performance metrics.||Real-time reporting features to consolidate expenses and receipts into a structured format.||Track every dollar with real-time reporting and in-depth analysis.|
|Mobility||Mobile and web apps to file expenses easily and for seamless approvals.||Capture and submit expenses through the mobile app.||Mobile apps on iOS and Android to manage expenses from anywhere.||Formerly TripActions, Navan app is available in the Apple store.|
|Compliance||Reduce compliance risk with automated expense policies and built-in compliance checks.||Define and enforce expense policies as you see fit.||AI-powered receipt auditing which staff can review.||Proactive spend controls that are automatically enforced at the point of sale.|
|Reconciliation||Unified system with expense categorization and automatic reconciliation.||Spot expense claim errors, discrepancies, and duplicates immediately.||Corporate card reconciliation that automatically matches expenses to corresponding transactions.||Navan Expense automatically reconciles employee purchases.|
|Reimbursement||Multi-currency payment infrastructure helps quickly and efficiently reimburse employees.||Streamlines reimbursement by automating the calculation, management, and payment of employee expenses.||Three options: direct, indirect, and reimbursements outside of Expensify.||Reimburse staff for out-of-pocket spend, within days, across 45 countries and 25 currencies.|
Tipalti offers one of the most comprehensive and efficient expense management solutions on the market. The purpose-built platform was designed for managing and automating employee-driven spend and reimbursements.
Tipalti’s expense features promote real-time control and visibility with an all-in-one dashboard for tracking spending, modern UI/UX, and an intuitive mobile application.
The expense approval automation platform offers features like:
Tipalti eliminates the complexity of having multiple standalone apps. If the financial team is looking in too many places, it can get costly, not to mention it creates operational inefficiencies that slow everyone down. Tipalti promotes the ideal environment, where everything is in the same spot.
Tipalti Expenses also integrates directly with the Tipalti finance automation platform, a system proven to reduce finance workloads by 80%. It’s like a finance automation roadmap.
In addition, with corporate card integration, employees have the ability to manage their Tipalti card transactions and out of pocket expenses together in one place. This helps to reduce the amount of time spent on expense management.
Manually tracking and reimbursing expenses is a time-consuming and error-prone process that exchanges many hands. It’s far from fail-proof. Human intervention can lead to mistakes, delays, and frustration for both staff and the finance team.
Tipalti’s robust, multi-currency payment infrastructure helps teams quickly and efficiently reimburse employees, no matter where they’re located in the world.
Whether it’s tracking expense reports, entering receipts, or reimbursing employees, lack of automation makes month-end reconciliation challenging. Tipalti offers a single, unified system with expense categorization (by GL expense type) and automatic reconciliation (at the GL entity level with the ERP system).
Tipalti helps you cut through the everyday challenges of expense filing and reconciliation, with more efficient expense management software. Finance teams can accelerate monthly close by over 25% and significantly reduce workload with automated reconciliation.
Tipalti helps a business confidently reduce compliance risk with automated expense policies and built-in compliance checks. This helps to ensure expenses are always submitted and reimbursed in accordance with company policies. This works to reinforce spending limits while minimizing fraud.
- Mobile and web apps to file expenses easily and for seamless approvals
- The system is built to scale with you as the business grows
- SaaS business model with a solution fit for companies of any size
- In-depth spend analysis features to identify patterns and cost-savings
- T&E capabilities and integrations with custom approval workflows
Ready to manage all spend in a single spot?
Scale rapidly and efficiently while accelerating visibility and reducing risk.
SAP Concur is a comprehensive expense management platform that integrates expenses, business travel, and invoice management in a single platform. The system guides staff through the process of submitting charges, populates them into expense reports, automates approvals, and facilitates ERP integrations.
Concur expense management offers a variety of features like approval workflows, expense submission, and policy enforcement. It also provides a mobile app for employees to capture receipts and submit expenses on the go. Expect some top modules, such as:
SAP Concur enables employees to easily capture and submit expenses through the web interface or mobile app. It supports features like receipt scanning, expense categorization, and automated policy enforcement. You can also check the status of expense reports in real time, making data-driven decision-making easier.
The Concur expenses platform integrates seamlessly with travel management systems and online booking platforms, allowing you to easily track travel expenses from anywhere in the world.
Users can search for hotels, flights, and rental cars, compare prices, and even make reservations, directly in the SAP Concur software.
Reimbursement and Payment
SAP Concur streamlines the reimbursement process by automating the calculation, management, and payment of employee expenses. The expense approval automation system supports multiple payment methods, including direct deposit and corporate card reconciliation.
It helps a business simplify the expense management process, gain better control over spending, and reduce administrative burdens.
Policy Compliance and Auditing
SAP Concur enables companies to define and enforce expense policies as they see fit. This helps ensure compliance with company policies and regulatory requirements.
The system performs automated policy checks during expense submission and provides real-time alerts for any potential violations. It also offers robust expense tracking and reporting to ensure an accurate and accessible accounts payable audit trail.
- Receipt and invoice management with mobile capabilities and automated approval workflows
- Integrations with popular accounting and ERP systems for seamless data synchronization
- Eliminates manual data entry and provides customizable reporting and analytics features
- Tools to generate insights into spending patterns, identify cost savings, and track performance metrics
- Extensive ecosystem of travel providers, financial institutions, and software solutions
Expensify is a popular expense management software platform that helps a business track, manage, and report expenses. It offers a multitude of features that helps to streamline the expense reporting process and improve overall financial management.
Known for its user-friendly interface, Expensify helps to simplify expense tracking, receipt scanning, the reimbursement process, advanced reporting, integrations, and policy enforcement.
Expensify uses advanced algorithms to automatically categorize expenses. The system will recognize common expense types, saving teams time and effort in manual categorization.
Expensify offers multi-currency support, which is especially beneficial for companies operating globally. It makes it easier to manage expenses incurred in different countries.
Expensify integrates with a variety of popular accounting and finance platforms, including Xero, NetSuite, QuickBooks, and more. This allows for a seamless transfer of data and eliminates the need for manual data entry.
The Expensify solution allows users to scan paper receipts using the camera on their mobile device. The app uses OCR (optical character recognition) to extract the relevant information like merchant name, date, and amount.
- Mobile apps are available on both iOS and Android devices, allowing users to manage expenses from anywhere
- Mileage tracking which is useful for employees that need to log business-related travel
- Expense report software with real-time reporting features to consolidate expenses and receipts into a structured format
- Corporate card reconciliation that automatically matches expenses to corresponding credit card transactions
- A complete audit trail that provides transparency and security to the expense management process
Navan is an all-in-one travel, corporate card, and expense management solution that boost employee productivity and automatically drives down costs. It provides thousands of customers worldwide with features to automate manual processes, improve spend management, and drive visibility. Navan enables a business to gain complete control over employee’s spend in real-time.
Navan helps a business eliminate out-of-policy spending before it happens. The system offers proactive spend controls that are automatically enforced at the point of sale.
You can set spend rules and automatically enforce company policy when employees pay. With the swipe of a card, transaction details are automatically categorized and reconciled. This eliminates the need for expense reports.
Real-Time Monitoring and Reporting
Easily track and monitor business spend in one spot, while turning in-depth insights into action, with real-time analytics. Track every dollar and gain a consolidated view of global spend across cards and reimbursements.
Eliminate expense reports and automate reconciliation with Navan’s revolutionary expense technology. Make data-driven decisions that will reduce spend leakage, improve forecasting, and optimize expense policies with real-time, contextual insights into spend data.
Streamline the entire payment process with physical and virtual cards that are tied to each Navan travel booking. This eliminates the need for manual reconciliation and facilitates the tracking of on-the-go spending.
- Reimburse employees for out-of-pocket spend, within days, across 45 countries and 25 currencies
- Businesses capture, track, and report on VAT transactions to reclaim up to 25% of expenses
- Link existing Visa or Mastercard to the Navan platform, while keeping card benefits
- Wide array of agnostic, global, inventory that incentivizes employees to spend less and reduces travel costs
- Boost employee adoption with a quick, self-serve experience, and enjoy fast, high-quality support
Additional Expense Approval Software Programs
- Certify: Offers a broad range of expense management features, including approval workflows, expense submission, policy compliance checks, real-time reporting, mileage tracking, and mobile capabilities.
- Zoho Expense: Zoho Expense helps to leverage cloud spend management with cloud-based features like expense submission, approval workflows, receipt scanning, policy enforcement, and a variety of integrations.
- Nexonia: A scalable expense management solution with features like approval workflows, expense submissions, policy compliance checks, reporting, and customizable configurations.
How Can Expenses Be Routed for Approval?
Expenses can be routed for approval using a variety of methods. It just depends on the type of expense approval automation software you choose and your specific workflow requirements. Some of the more common ways expenses are routed include:
In a parallel approval workflow, expenses are sent to multiple approvers simultaneously. Each approver can review and approve or reject each expense independently.
This method is typically used when multiple individuals or departments need to review and approve an expense simultaneously. This can happen when an expense crosses cost centers or involves different stakeholders.
In this strategy, expenses are routed to approvers in a predetermined order. For example, an employee submits an expense, which is then routed to an immediate supervisor.
Once that approval happens, the expense is sent to the next approver in the hierarchy (like a department head), and so forth.
In this case, expenses are automatically routed for approval based on predefined thresholds. For example, if an expense exceeds a certain amount, it may require a higher-level manager or specific approver with the authority for large expenses. Smaller expenses below a certain amount may be automatically approved, without the need for manual intervention.
In this method, expenses are routed based on predefined roles within the company. For instance, expenses related to travel may be automatically routed to the travel coordinator. Expenses related to a certain project may be sent to the project manager.
This strategy automatically ensures the right person, with the right expertise or responsibility, is approving the expense.
Some expense approval software solutions allow for ad-hoc approval. This means the person submitting the expense can manually select the approvers for a specific expense. This is mostly useful for exceptional or one-off situations that require approvals outside of the normal workflow.
No matter what type of expense approval software you choose, it’s important to configure the program to your company’s policies, requirements, and approval hierarchy to ensure expenses are routed to the appropriate parties accurately and efficiently.
How to Choose the Best Solution for Your Business
Choosing the best expense approval software requires some careful consideration. Here are a few key steps to consider when making an informed decision:
#1) Assess Needs
Start by identifying the top needs of the organization. Study the specific pain points and requirements related to expense management. Consider factors like the complexity of expense policies, integration needs, mobile accessibility, reporting, and compliance requirements.
#2) Research Options
Conduct some thorough research on what’s out there. Consider the different expense approval software solutions available in the market. Be sure to read reviews, product descriptions, and case studies. Look at the features, scalability, ease of use, customer support, and brand reputation.
#3) Define a Budget
Determine the amount of funds you have allocated for expense approval software. Look at both upfront costs (licenses, implementation, etc) and ongoing expenses (support, maintenance, and upgrades). This helps a business narrow down the options and focus on solutions within a specific price range.
#4) Evaluate Integrations
Assess the platform’s integration capabilities with your legacy systems that are critical to the business. This can include apps like ERP systems, accounting software, or HR platforms. Seamless integration streamlines data exchange, improves efficiency, and eliminates the need for manual data entry.
#5) Request a Demo
Request a free trial or demo of the shortlisted software. This will give you a more hands-on experience with the functionality, interface, and overall user experience. Evaluate how your software choices align with the current workflows, and whether they can meet specific needs.
#6) Consider Scalability
Look at your organization’s future needs and growth plans. Ensure the expense approval software can scale with your business, accommodate increased users, higher transaction volumes, and additional features or modules (as required).
#7) Assess Compliance and Security
Evaluate the platform’s security measures, user access controls, data encryption, and compliance with industry regulations (like HIPAA or GDPR). Make sure the provider follows best practices to protect personal and sensitive business data.
#8) Look at Feedback
Seek references and customer feedback. Reach out to other companies in your network or industry that have already successfully implemented an expense approval software solution.
Ask for their experiences, including challenges, wins, and overall satisfaction. Their insights will provide valuable information for your decision-making process.
#9) Consider Support and Training
Look at the quality of training resources and availability of customer support provided by the software vendor. Ensure they have the proper training materials, comprehensive documentation, and responsive support channels to assist you as needed.
#10) Make an Informed Decision
Now it’s time to decide. Compare the pros and cons of each solution, along with their strongest features. Select the options that closely align with your company’s budget, needs, and long-term goals.
The best-fitting expense approval automation software depends on specific requirements, so it’s critical you take the time to carefully evaluate your choices.
Summing it Up
Expense management technology is important for companies to maintain stringent control over spending. It helps to ensure policy compliance and drive financial efficiency.
This type of software offers a modern and streamlined approach to managing expenses. It eliminates manual processes, reduces errors, and improves visibility.
By automating expense approval workflows, companies can achieve greater cost savings and compliance. Careful evaluation and selection of the right expense approval automation software can transform your expense process, enhance financial control, and improve your business performance.
When automating accounts payable processes, it’s typical to select software solutions that only meet basic requirements. Don’t get stuck in this rut. Find out the best ways to choose the top solutions with our latest ebook, The Holy Grail of Accounts Payable.