Expense Management

Expense Management Automation: What It Is + Why You Need It

Not sure if automated expense management is right for your business? Here's seven benefits you might not know about and how you can get started.

Danielle Antosz
Danielle Antosz writes about business, tech, and finance for ClearSpend. When she's not researching weird facts about business finance, you'll find her looking for her next favorite sci-fi show. Stalk her on Twitter @dantosz.

Tired of expense reports piling up on your desk? Sick of receipts with ketchup stains sticking to your paperwork? What if we told you there was a way to automate the expense management process? 🤯

Turns out there is. Expense management automation can take the expense management process from complicated and annoying to easy-breezy. But is it worth the switch? Here's what you need to know about expense management automation, including seven reasons you should give it a try. 

What is expense management automation?

Expense management automation means automating tedious expense management tasks like tracking employee spending, categorizing spending, reconciling receipts, and approving purchases. 

Essentially, it's like having a little expense fairy who takes care of all the annoying parts of expense management so you can focus on what matters—whether that's guessing today's Wordle or, you know, growing your business. 

If you're one of those who don't like to give up control (we see you), this might feel impossible. "Who else will know that Justin in sales can't spend $250 taking low revenue clients for drinks?" <Shakes fist at the sky.> 

Your expense management automation software will—because you'll tell it precisely what is cool and what isn't.

Drake meme comparing manual expense reporting and expense management automation.

Seven reasons you need to automate your business expenses (like yesterday) 

Maybe your current expense process is working okay, so you're wondering if it's worth the effort to switch to automation. Is it working, though? Or are you so used to the current practice that you'd rather wrap your paper expense reports around your shoulders like a security blanket than shake things up? If you're not sure if expense automation is right for you, here's what you need to know. 

1. Automating expense management saves time + money 

According to GBTA (Global Business Travel Association), filing expense reports takes about 20 minutes and costs around $58. On its own, that doesn't sound all that bad. But add that up over all your employees, and you could be wasting thousands of dollars a year filing expense reports. 

Even worse, an error in expense reports could cost you upwards of $50 to fix. I'll bet you could find a better way to use that money—maybe a new printer or Russell Crowe's jockstrap; we don't judge. 

2. Expense management automation improves spending visibility 

Tracking expenses isn't just about making it easier to reimburse Susan for picking up printer ink or covering the marketing team's travel expenses—it can provide deep insights into the overall health of your business. 

Want to know how much you spend wooing clients in Miami? Not sure how much marketing invested in ads for your new product launch? Automating your expense management means you won't have to dig through receipts or emails to find answers. Just log in, click on the expense category or budget allocation, and all that valuable information is right at your fingertips. Better expense transparency also makes it easier to spot compliance issues—before they become a huge problem. 

3. Get dynamic spending control 

Expenses change over time. Maybe your internet bill goes up, your ad budget increases, or you want to reward an employee for a job well done. With manual expense reporting, all those changes have to be done by hand. When you automate your expense management, you can easily adjust limits with the click of a button. Pro tip: ClearSpend’s expense management tools help you can do this even faster. 

Fast cast meme. That feel when you use expense management automation. I am speed.

4. No more paper receipts 🙌🙌

Do you know what bookkeepers and accountants love? A messy box of paper receipts they have to try to make sense of. It's truly the best part of the job. No, not really. In addition to being annoying, that box of paper receipts can increase inaccuracies and even result in missed expenses. With automated expense management solutions, those paper receipts are a thing of the past. 

With automated solutions, employees upload images of their receipts right in the app. Those receipt images are then automatically sent to the backend dashboard, where they can even be automatically categorized. No more handling paper receipts! Your bookkeeper will thank you. 

5. Automating expense management reduces fraud risks 

Some automated expense management tools allow you to set rules on how employees spend company funds—allowing you to prevent fraud before it can happen. For example, ClearSpend's spend control tools provide the ability to set spend restrictions based on transaction limits or approved merchant categories. 

Want to let your drivers fill up the company cars? You can set the cards to only work at gas stations. Need to pay a huge deposit to a vendor? Generate a card, set the spend amount to the invoice's exact cost, and you're good to go. (Yep, expense management automation tools can do more than get rid of paper receipts!) 

6. Reduce financial waste (woot!) 

Financial waste can tank your business. Expense management automation can make it easier to spot those wasted dollars before you run out of cash flow. Do you actually use that expensive sales tool? What about those Black Friday ads still running in April? 👀 Expense management automation helps reduce financial waste by allowing you to set strict controls on what can be spent. Maybe you're cool with spending $5,000 for new computers but don't want a new vendor to be able to double bill you. Using spending controls, you can prevent financial waste before it happens. 

7. Make it easier for employees to spend/travel

Automated expense management doesn't just make it easier to save money—it also makes it easier to spend money when it's needed. Want to give your team a budget for that conference they're going to? It's as easy as clicking a few buttons. Need to adjust how much your sales team can spend at lunch? You can easily up their spending amount and adjust spending categories. 

ClearSpend makes expense management automation a breeze 

You didn't think we would tell you about all the benefits of expense management automation without telling you how to do it, did you? Using the standard paper and pen expense management process might seem simpler, especially if you're a smaller business. However, ClearSpend offers tons of features you could be missing out on. 

Here are a few of our favorites: 

  1. Receipt uploading: No more paper receipts. Just upload a picture after the purchase and get on with your life.
  2. Automated categorization: Break down spending into categories so it's easy to organize payments—and report expenses come tax time. 
  3. Integration with Quickbooks: Want to reduce your workload in Quickbooks? ClearSpend automatically pushes transaction data, expense categories, and receipt images directly into QuickBooks. 
  4. Real-time card management: Using ClearSpend cards allows you to adjust spending limits and restrictions on the fly. 
  5. Digital audit trail: Get quick access to a detailed list of where the money went and who spent it. 
  6. More control over the approval process: In just a few clicks in the ClearSpend dashboard, you can add more cash for vendors, approve a higher amount for office lunch, or cut off access to a shady contractor. 

ClearSpend's automated expense management platforms can save you time, money, and headaches. What are you waiting for? 

More like this