How to Move from Excel to an Expense Management Software

Tracking employee expenses is a tedious activity, and as complaint requirements become more complicated, many finance teams are shifting away from general spreadsheets. Even a meticulously coded expense tracker template isn't cutting it—not when expense management teams have to keep and log receipts, follow up with employees, and reconcile credit card statements. All while expense data continues to grow. In addition, there are several pain points associated with a manual expense reporting system like excel

However, many professionals are still on the fence about transitioning to a digital and automated system or expense tracker app. And the reasons have less to do with budgets and software. It's all about usability. 

Why are companies still using Excel for expense management?

Many small businesses continue to use Excel out of habit and convenience more than the utility. Everyone, from life-long employees to new hires, knows at least a little bit about how to use spreadsheets. And most people have access to the program from their phone and home computer, not just the office.

But while it's true that Excel or a Google Sheet is accessible and versatile, it's hardly effective as an expense management tool. This is especially true for businesses looking to grow.

So, why is Excel considered the "easiest" option?

Using spreadsheet programs like Excel requires a largely manual process. As a result, they are prone to error—and Excel is no different. Not only do about 90% of all spreadsheets contain errors, but even a small mistake can be expensive. For example, a Canadian power generation firm lost $24 million thanks to a copy-and-paste Excel sheet error.

This isn’t entirely surprising, given the research on manual data entry-especially in finance. According to a 2021 study, 65% of finance professionals believe that manual processes lead to lost productivity. But even more of these respondents link these tedious tasks to compliance violations and lost documentation. 

For expense reporting and AP processes, this makes upgrading from Excel and spreadsheets even more critical. 

The First Step to Better Expense Reporting

The first step towards high-powered, high-value solutions to manual data-entry woes is more than digitization. 

Shifting to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system provides various benefits. First off, these programs are often elaborate and highly customizable, making it easy to match your specific expense management process to this digital tool. 

At the same time, these programs have been shown to have a measurable ROI. Around 95% of businesses saw improvements from implementing their ERP solution, and 82% saw ROI in their expected timeline. 

Most ERPs also have several additional modules outside of financial reporting, all of which break down silos between departments and make expense reporting easier. 

Depending on your specific needs, there are a few key ERPs to choose from:

Is upgrading to an ERP enough?

So once you have an ERP, what’s next?

On their own, most of these platforms have limited automation capabilities. But they work with specific, customizable integrations. Most of these additional software options are also easy to find. 

Sage, NetSuite, and Miscorost Dynamics all have their own marketplace pages so you can filter the search for different solutions. 

You might be wondering how you can tell the difference—outside of your budget, how do you find the best integration for your needs? 

We can’t speak for every department, but we do know what a best-in-class expense management solution looks like. 

What Features Do You Need for Efficient Expense Management? 

For expense tracking, a finance team will often benefit from a third-party integration with the following features:

  • Ability to link expenses to an expense category
  • Employee self-service options for uploading expense data
  • Receipt and expense data capture via photos
  • Customizable expense reports
  • Cost allocation per project, department, and other categories
  • Immediate GST/VAT calculations
  • Multi-level approval
  • Multiple currency support
  • Automate expense report generation
  • Accurate mileage capture
  • Automatic credit card reconciliation

All of these specific features reduce the workload for your finance professionals and employees while streamlining the process. Ideally, they will also offer an employee time-tracking application, so you can capture payroll costs in real-time. 

But the big differentiator is usability. Your team should easily be able to understand and use the software. Furthermore, you need an integration with a sound support system to make it work. 

The best part? The automated nature of these solutions means it’s easy to scale. 

A Better Way to Track Expenses

At Gorilla Expense, we specialize in helping small businesses track expenses accurately and automatically. Our expense management software makes it easy to get full visibility of your cash flow in a way that just isn’t feasible with manual data entry on Excel or a Google Spreadsheet.

To learn more about how to shift from Excel to automatic expense tracking, check out our case study with Instant Infosystems

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