If your sales reps are on the road selling, they’re spending company money in the process. I don’t know of a single sales rep who likes dealing with the tedious reporting of their travel, entertainment, and miscellaneous expenses. Keeping track of and logging receipts is time-consuming — not just for the sales rep, but for sales managers as well. Sales managers must also devote time to the expense reporting process since they’re the ones who have to review, approve, and forward each of their team members’ reports onto finance.
Here is how the maddening cycle of activities related to logging, submitting, tracking, and reimbursing expenses looks:
Luckily, there are now a number of sales tools designed to help both sales reps and their managers with this process.
ExpensAble offers a desktop solution that is designed for smaller companies, those with 10 or fewer filers. Its online, Webbased version is for large corporations and is a more comprehensive expense management solution.
ExpensAble includes a user interface for completing expense report forms using policies and expense types defined by their administrators. Users also have the ability to attach scanned receipts to the file so no hardcopies of receipts or forms are required. Then the digital form is routed using administrator-defined workflows. Currency conversion is built into the system as is a credit card genie which lets users select corporate card charges and quickly pre-populate expense reports. Administrators can view reports to analyze expense trends, and spending by categories, employees, departments, and merchants.
Pricing for ExpensAble is not available.
ExpenseAnywhere also offers both a desktop version and an online, Web-based version. It’s also considered an end-to-end solution which starts with expense entry and continues through approvals and escalation, audit and reimbursement, reports and analytics and user management. It includes the ability to define workflows, and it supports multiple currencies.
You can connect the system to your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system as well. ExpenseAnywhere is a “roles-based” system with specific levels of functionality for each user type within the organization. These roles are the traveler, the approver, accounting and administrator.
Using the Profile Manager the administrator provisions specific functionality for each user type involved in the expense management cycle. This component establishes how different user-types and functional groups of the organization interface with the system.
The system also includes a Corporate Policy Manager which is the run-time functionality checks, flags and/or enforces, and reports on any variations from corporate travel policy. Specific checks are set up by the administrator to implement the policy guidelines. Flags and appropriate messages are displayed to the user when variations are encountered.
The Systems Configuration component manages the processes that provide data exchange between ExpenseAnywhere and the corporate credit card input files, ACH (direct deposit system), financial systems, human resources systems, and imaging systems. These processes are initially developed by and implemented with the Virtual Communications team during what they call the “Rapid Implementation Process.”
Pricing for ExpenseAnywhere is not publically available.
Certify is a self-service, online expense management solution for small-to-midsize companies. All users can access the system anytime from anywhere. Each user has their own home-page where they can complete new expense reports, view the reports that are still pending approval and view reports which have been approved.
One thing I particularly like is the ability to add receipts that have been captured with an iPhone, Blackberry, smart phone, webcam, scanner, or a fax. Imagine you’ve just finished a client lunch. Simply take a snapshot of the receipt with your smart phone and upload it to your online “Certify wallet.” Then you no longer need the physical receipt and it’s now available in your online wallet for you to associate with the proper expense line item.
No need to collect a mess of receipts to input at a later time after you’ve forgotten the “who,” “when” and “why” associated with the expense.
You can even capture a line item from an online credit card statement without exposing confidential details like account number. No more copying your statement and blacking-out account numbers or personal balances.
Certify will even convert foreign currency expenses automatically, based on the precise date of each expense. The administrator has a dashboard as well where s/he can easily manage the system. It’s there where s/he can edit and post the employee travel expense reimbursement policy that becomes available for all users to view through their dashboard. Administrators can also view and edit the different expense categories and other variables such as automobile reimbursement rates, preferred travel partners and user profiles. Once a user clicks to submit his or her expense reports, the administrator can immediately identify expenses which are in excess of company policy and track it through the approval process.
Certify also offers a host of reporting tools. Managers can clearly see who is spending what and how it impacts overall T&E budgets. There are many report options: Expenses by category, by employee or by date are three examples.
The analytic component allows you to review and analyze your expenses in great detail. For example, you can track average costs for hotels and airfare, calculate average expense amounts per employee and report your total expenses by month or quarter. You can even identify chronic offenders of your corporate travel policy.
The Policy Enforcement component automatically integrates your expense policies with the approval workflow. Any items in excess of the company policy are automatically flagged for employee and approvers to see. To facilitate quick payments of expenses, you can easily export expense report data which can then be imported directly into your Payroll, Accounts Payable and General Ledger systems.
Certify costs less than $10 per month per user.
Nancy Nardin founded Smart Selling Tools after a prestigious career in high-tech and IT market research sales. She is considered the leading expert on sales productivity tools.