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Automated expenses solutions on the rise

7th May 2015
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Automated expenses management tools may be on the rise within companies, as a recent survey of UK workers shows around 42% are using one.

The remainder enter expenses into an offline spreadsheet and a very small proportion are outsources by their company. 

KDS, a company that operates a travel and expenses management solution for companies ranging from 300 employees upward, surveyed 1,235 workers for the survey. It also showed that 66% of employees at companies with 101 – 500 employees still use spreadsheets to keep track of expenses.

KDS argue that spreadsheets are inefficient and can lead to employees ‘fiddling’ their expenses. Indeed, the survey showed one in five admitted to stretching them. In addition, automated expenses can save time, and therefore money.

“For companies with more than 500 employees, the expense process is faster for those who use automated expense management tools,” the report said.

“Among this group, 63% take less than 30 minutes to file claims and 34 % receive reimbursement within seven days. Only just over half using spreadsheets file claims in less than 30 minutes and only 17% are reimbursed within seven days.”

Of workers that commented on their expenses reclamation experience, most don’t mind it. But many also used the words “pain” and “painful”.

In terms of employees exaggerating their expenses, When claiming for private car mileage, 21 % round up the distance by one or two miles, while another 3 % round up to the nearest five or ten miles. However, 71 % record the accurate mileage and 5 % even say they round down.

Vice president Oliver Quayle told AccountingWEB that while Excel is a great tool for manipulating data, it's only as reliable as the data that's input. Therefore, it may not be as efficient as an automated solution when used by employees.

"When you take an accounting tool and distribute it to thousands of end users with no control over each one of them, you can easily end up with 1,000 versions of the truth. Control goes, human manual errors creep in and in reality is its easy for people to get things wrong. It then takes lots of time to put it right.

"Think about the number of people in an organisation who need to fill spreadsheet in manually. Think about the time that they take to do it, how easy it is to make a little mistake and then the ripple effect that has in the organisation," he said. 

Quayle added many companies don't even realise the time and money that gets wasted when employees are left to fill in manual spreadsheet expenses. This is possibly truer for larger companies.

And even if it is identified as an issue in i.e. employee satisfaction surveys, many companies think it is expensive to implement an automated expenses solution. "Some assume it is an ERP style cost to get something implemented and take a lot of risk, time, money and set-up. But it won't - software-as-a-service (SAAS), cloud-based companies can get you up and running affordably and lot faster," Quayle said. 

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