Thirty may be the new 20, but not when it comes to software. Microsoft Excel turned The Big 3-0 in September; and while its utility keeps it a staple in workplaces worldwide, it’s a poor choice for managing travel expense reimbursement. That function can be more efficient and less expensive with specialized solutions built expressly for the purpose.
But why take the time and energy to shift away from something with which your team is familiar? Why change the processes and workarounds you’ve created? Isn’t Excel “good enough?” The answer to that last question is an emphatic no; and here are five reasons why:
Excel is for recording and sharing information, not automating processes. So with Excel, a manual process is merely recorded – manually. Think about the hours needed to create, review and approve reports; the costs for paper, printing and postage, the time required for reconciliation and reimbursement; and the costs to archive expense reports. Most companies don’t know these costs. They likely don’t want to know.
It’s been estimated that 90 percent of spreadsheets contain errors and it’s no wonder why: Creators of Excel spreadsheets have very little control over who can edit formula cells. And the more complex the model is, the greater the potential for human error. When mistakes are detected they have to be remedied and prevented from happening again. All of that takes time that could be better spent elsewhere.
Typical organizations lose 5 percent of revenues each year to fraud, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and misappropriations account for 85 percent of all frauds. Frauds related to expense reimbursements, the association says, were reported in 2014 by 13.1 percent of large companies – those with 100 or more employees – and by 16.5 percent of smaller ones.
The security issues inherent with email have been around since AOL and the danger has only grown. Sharing spreadsheets by email makes them vulnerable to unauthorized access and alteration. Password-protected sheets and locked cells are no defense. And email can be forwarded to anyone anywhere.
Excel can help a small business track expenses, but it can’t link receipts or images with expense line items. It can’t integrate with corporate and accounting systems. It can’t provide complete availability and accessibility of expense data. It exposes organizations to administrative reporting processes that are subject to human error. Excel also can reduce the auditing of expense reporting to an ineffective manual process that often relies on sampling.
A new approach to travel expense management
SureMileage by Company Mileage not only addresses the shortcomings of Excel, it approaches travel expense management in an entirely new way. Employees report their starting point and destination and the system calculates the driving distance between them. Rather than verifying the miles that were driven, it calculates the expenses to be reimbursed.
Once travel data goes into SureMileage, it becomes a travel and expense reimbursement solution in which supervisors can review and approve expenses and send them to Accounting for reimbursement. It’s an end-to-end solution that solves a business problem – with no Excel spreadsheets required.