Business organizations of all shapes and sizes have become adept at leveraging automation to replace manual processes. Expense management solutions are replacing spreadsheet-dependent processes that can be prone to errors, vulnerable to fraud, and lacking in both security and visibility. But most of these organizations are driven primarily by a desire to reduce costs. And as they consider their options among expense management solutions, they are quite naturally quick to ask about the expected return on their investment.

Several studies conducted by the likes of PayStream Advisors and Aberdeen Group have found that it costs an average of more than $25.00 to manually process a single expense report. Expense management solutions can reduce that cost by 70 percent or more, these studies have found. Apply that $17 average savings per report across the enterprise over a year and the numbers impress.

The dollars come from reducing headcount that had been devoted to time-intensive manual operations and sharply reduced demands for the associated office supplies, paper and postage. Then there is the improved employee productivity that comes with less time being spent filling out forms and dealing with their shortcomings.

Processing costs down, compliance up

Concur, which has been used by more than 20,000 companies, government entities and universities to gain control over Travel & Expense management, throws another log on the savings fire by highlighting the sizable portion of T&E spend that is non-compliant with company policies. It conducted a 12-month evaluation of 48 clients with an estimated T&E spend of $86 million.

Fully 22 percent of claims were flagged as exceptions and 4 percent were flagged as duplicates. Some 7 percent had incorrect receipts, 7 percent were submitted late, and 6 percent had no GST receipt. By fully automating their expense process, Concur said, businesses can expect not only a 70% reduction in processing costs but also a 2.25-times improvement with respect to policy compliance – from about 40 percent to 90 percent.

The expense management solutions that make a difference

Other evaluations have found that nearly two-thirds of companies reported a positive return on their investment in an expense management solution within 12 months. And 92 percent achieved full ROI within two years. They said that ROI came from improved efficiency in the expense reporting process; reductions in paper, postage and storage costs; and reduced fraud and human error.

SureMileage, from Company Mileage, offers an additional source of savings because it attacks weaknesses in the mileage reimbursement process by looking at the process in an entirely new way. Employees report their starting points and destinations and the system calculates the driving distance between them. So, rather than verifying the miles that were driven, it calculates the expenses to be reimbursed. Once travel data goes into SureMileage, it becomes an expense reimbursement solution in which supervisors can review and approve expenses and send them to Accounting for reimbursement.

SureMileage addresses the weaknesses of spreadsheets in a variety of ways; and then it ups the ante with its unique approach to submitting reimbursement claims. That means more savings for companies and an even quicker return on their investment.