Automation

What is Expense Automation and Why You Should Implement It?

Expense automation leverages advanced technology to eliminate repetitive tasks in expense management and help businesses avoid many financial issues.

Last updated:
October 19, 2023

In today's fast-paced business environment, falling behind on expense management can put you at a significant disadvantage compared to your competitors. It may leave you susceptible to inefficiencies and financial setbacks, disturbing your organization's finances and resources, but expense automation can help you avoid these issues.

Expense automation leverages technology to streamline and simplify the management of business expenses. It does more than simply automating repetitive task but can transform how your organization handles costs and allocate resources. Helping you reduce administrative burden and enhance accuracy and compliance, expense management automation is a game-changer and must-have in financial management.

In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about expense automation and why you should adopt it to maximize overall efficiency and minimize financial risks.

What is Expense Automation?

Expense automation leverages advanced technology to simplify and expedite the management of business expenses. It involves the use of software tools and digital platforms to handle tasks such as expense reporting, approval workflows, and reimbursement processes. This eliminates the need for manual data entry and paper-based records, making the expense management process less prone to errors.

Key Process Where Expense Management Can Be Automated

Here are three critical areas where automation tools can be especially beneficial:

Expense Reporting

Expense reporting is a fundamental aspect of financial management for any business. Expense automation simplifies this process by enabling your employees to submit expense reports digitally, often through dedicated software or mobile apps. It allows them to easily input expenses, attach receipts, and categorize costs.

This lessens the likelihood of errors and speeds up the entire reporting procedure. With automated expense reporting, employees can also submit claims on the go, and finance teams can access data instantly, improving the overall efficiency of the expense management process.

Approval Workflows

The approval of expense reports can be a time-consuming and manual task. Expense management automation brings in workflow automation, which streamlines the approval process.

Managers can receive notifications and access digital reports for quick assessment and approval. The automation of approval workflows can then be configured to match your company's specific policies and hierarchies. This ensures that expenses are reviewed and approved promptly while maintaining compliance.

Integration with Accounting

Integrating expense management systems with your accounting software is crucial for maintaining accurate financial records. You experience seamless data transfer from expense reports to accounting platforms, reducing the need for manual data entry.

The integration ensures that expenses are accurately reflected in your financial records, which is essential for budgeting, auditing, and financial reporting. It also minimizes the risk of data discrepancies, boosting financial transparency and accountability within your organization.

Benefits of Expense Automation

Here are some of the benefits of expense automation:

Streamlines Workflows

Expense management automation streamlines and optimizes workflows by digitizing and automating various tasks. It eliminates the need for manual data entry, paper-based receipts, and spreadsheets, making the entire process more efficient. Employees can quickly submit expenses, attach digital receipts, and categorize costs using user-friendly software or mobile apps.

It also facilitates the smooth flow of expense reports through the approval phase, notifying and enabling managers to access reports digitally. This reduces delays and minimizes the time and effort spent on administrative tasks, improving productivity.

Enforce Policy Compliance

Expense management automation ensures that every expense claim aligns with the company's established policies and regulatory requirements. It integrates these policies directly into the software, triggering automated checks and alerts when employees submit non-compliant expenses. As a result, your organization maintains high compliance, financial accountability, and transparency.

Reduces Errors

According to the GBTA, one in every five (19%) expense reports contain errors, costing your business hundreds and thousands of bucks. But there's nothing to worry about as expense automation eliminates manual data entry and paper-based record-keeping.

Automation has OCR technology and advanced scanning features that automatically read receipts and checks for policy compliance, preventing errors that could lead to financial discrepancies or regulatory issues. It saves your employees time and strengthens the overall financial control and accuracy of your organization's expense management.

Real-Time Data Visibility

Most businesses say lack of visibility over company spending is their biggest concern. Expense management automation solves this issue by providing organizations with the invaluable benefit of real-time data visibility.

It offers immediate access to up-to-date information on expenses and detects irregularities, enabling finance teams to monitor spending accurately as it occurs. Hence, you experience timely decision-making, the early identification of cost-saving opportunities, and the ability to allocate resources more effectively.

Challenges of Expense Automation

Here are the challenges you may come across when automating your expense management:

Integration Complexity

Expense automation software often needs to integrate with existing systems - accounting software or ERP systems, to ensure a smooth data flow. This integration can be complex, particularly for organizations with legacy systems that may not readily connect with modern automation tools.

Employee Adoption

Transitioning to expense automation may encounter resistance from employees accustomed to manual processes. Employees might be hesitant to adapt to new software, leading to a slower adoption rate and errors during the initial implementation phase.

Initial Setup Costs

Implementing an expense automation system can entail initial setup costs. These costs often include software licensing, customization, and training expenses. For some organizations, the upfront investment can be challenging. But it's essential to recognize that long-term gains in efficiency, accuracy, and cost savings typically offset these costs.

Customization

Organizations often have unique expense policies and processes. You must customize the software to accommodate your needs, like additional time, resources, and technical expertise to meet your requirements. However, this customization isn't easy, and adapting expense automation software to align with these needs can be challenging.

Use Cases of Expense Automation

Expense automation doesn’t simply help businesses manage costs in a more efficient way. Various business processes and aspects can also benefit from expense automation:

  • Expense Reporting: Automating expense reporting streamlines capturing, submitting, and approving expenses.
  • Receipt Management: Expense automation can digitize paper receipts through scanning, OCR, machine learning, and other advanced AI technologies.
  • Travel Expense Management: It simplifies the management of travel-related expenses, including flights, accommodation, and meals.
  • Policy Enforcement: Automation ensures adherence to expense policies and regulatory compliance.
  • Data Analysis: It provides real-time data for in-depth spending patterns and budget allocation analysis.
  • Audit and Compliance: Automation tools facilitate auditing and reduce the risk of non-compliance and fraud.
  • Timely Reimbursements: It accelerates the approval and reimbursement process, enhancing employee satisfaction.

Future of Automating Expenses

The future of expense automation holds significant promise, driven by ongoing technological advancements.

One key aspect of the future of expense automation is enhanced intelligence and predictive capabilities. Machine learning and artificial intelligence will be used to analyze historical expense data and anticipate spending trends. This will allow organizations to make proactive decisions and further optimize their budgets.

Furthermore, integrating expense automation with emerging technologies like blockchain will provide an immutable and transparent ledger for financial transactions. Mobile devices and apps will also become even more ingrained in expense management. As a result, users will enjoy greater flexibility and convenience while ensuring policy compliance.

Automate Expense Document Processing with FormX

The first step towards expense automation is automating data extraction from different expense documents; however, this task can be quite challenging as these documents often come from different sources and have various formats, making the traditional templated-based data extraction solutions obsolete. This is where Intelligent Document Processing solutions like FormX comes in.

With pre-configured information extraction models, including general shopping receipts, identity cards, and official licenses, FormX allows you to effortlessly extract essential information with a single click and send the extracted results to other platforms or software for expense management and automation.

Our API-based approach ensures easy integration with your existing software, delivering results in a user-friendly JSON format. The user-friendly web portal makes FormX accessible to all, offering intuitive instructions for low or no-code configurations. Our Workspace feature also allows you to upload expense documents by batch, export the extracted results as Excel files, and set up integrations to automate expense reporting.

Conclusion

Expense automation management is the key to unlocking efficiency in your business. It streamlines workflows, enforces compliance, reduces errors, and accelerates reimbursements. You can use it for expense reporting, data analysis, receipt management, travel expense management, and more.

Contact us today to see how FormX can help you start automating expense document processing and reporting.

Extract data from these documents
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Invoice
Receipts
Purchase Orders
Bank Statements
Contracts & Agreements
HR Forms & Applications
Shipping Orders & Delivery Notes
Loyalty Members Applications
Annual Reports
Business Certificates
Personnel Licenses
And much more!