Expense reporting is a necessary evil for most companies. And with the typical company spending 10% (or more) of its total annual budget on expenses related to business travel, we started wondering how much time it takes to submit an expense report – time your employees are not spending on value-add activities that actually help your company grow its bottom line.
So, we set out to conduct a time and motion study of the leading expense management tools on the market (our own included) in order to figure out just how long it takes to create and submit a simple expense report within each system. Our primary focus was on the time it took to complete each step in the process as well as the number of actions required for each step in order to submit a claim.
We performed the test three times within each expense management tool and took an overall average. Here’s what we found:
As you can see from the results, there is a direct correlation between the total number of actions required and the time spent to submit each claim.
Tools that required more steps employed more of a procedural approach to submitting claims. Essentially, they’ve taken the traditional, on paper, spreadsheet approach to filing expense claims and implemented it online. The problem? It can result in similar pain points – slow, inaccurate and error-prone.
Systems with more automated capabilities – able to process steps for the user – resulted in faster submission times. For example, KDS’ expense management tool eliminates the spreadsheet process altogether. Instead, it utilizes a calendar-based approach, with drag and drop functionality, that enables the tool to pre-populate key data (date, time, location and receipt images) so the user does not have to enter it manually. As you can see, this results in a significant reduction in the amount of time spent to submit a claim.
Now, our study, whilst approached in a structured and scientific way was not independently ratified. It was an interesting exercise and one that we would suggest you try if you are evaluating your expense process and systems.
The bottom line: 2009 research from Advisors.com revealed that expense processing through automated systems costs companies 78% less than manual processing systems. That’s huge savings for companies. And, as our more recent study reveals, when it comes to automated expense management tools, the more automated the better.