It’s common for employees to make business expenses when they’re out and about for work. These expenses may include the cost of accommodation, entertaining clients, rental cars, etc. Employees are responsible for keeping track of all the expenses that they make. Their employer will reimburse them once they provide receipts and expense justifications.
This can often be a daunting task, particularly for employees that need to hit the road often and tend to make a lot of business expenses in the process.
There has to be a better way than just trying to memorize why something was expensed to the company. That is precisely why a well-functioning expense report is so useful.
What is an expense claim?
Your job might put you in situations where you have to make expenses out of your own pocket for the company. For example, your company is a supplier of building materials and you may be required to take the purchasing manager for a big developer out to lunch.
Since this lunch meeting will be on behalf of your employer, it will reimburse you for the amount spent. To get your money back you’ll need to file what’s commonly referred to as an expense claim.
The company will most likely have some requirements that you’ll need to fulfil before it reimburses the amount spent.
What is an expense report? And what do you use it for?
Most companies require their employees to fill out an expense report or an expense report before they can be reimbursed. This allows them to keep track of what their employees are spending for business purposes. And also to ensure that all expense claims are justified and validated from a bookkeeping and tax perspective.
An expense report normally itemizes or breaks down the claim into as much detail as needed. It will include several key particulars like information about the employee submitting the claim, the dates on which the expenses were made, the exact amounts and any related VAT payments, a short description to justify the expense, and more.
Employees that don’t have regular business expenses will only have to file their claims as and when required. If you are in a job role that requires frequent business expenses, you will likely need to file recurring expense reports so that they can be reimbursed without delay.
Examples of expense reports generally used
While handwritten paper expense reports were commonly used in the past, most businesses now rely on one of the many simpler methods that now exist. Microsoft Excel is one such method. Businesses create a standard Excel sheet with calculation formulae that their employees can use to submit their expense claims.
Others prefer Microsoft Word as it’s a software that most people know very well. It also allows for images to be attached to the documents, an important element in providing justifications for expenses.
Organizations that invest in custom ERP solutions tend to us add-ons for expense reporting functionality. This provides the employees with a single dashboard through which they can manage all of their expense claims.
Google Forms are increasingly becoming popular for companies compared to Word and Excel. That’s due to added functionality and features like a real-time collaboration that provide exceptional ease of use. Google Forms simply stores the data in a Google Sheet for you to analyse and export to your ERP.
Download our free Google Forms expense report template to simplify your business expense justifications
What are the disadvantages of using physical expense reports?
Dealing with a lot of paperwork for physical expense reports can be disadvantageous. Employees have to keep track of it all and ensure that they affix the receipts to the corresponding forms.
Remember the time you spent at the copier machine to copy all your receipts? Your claim could be refused if you ended up losing or misplacing them.
It’s also more time-consuming. Especially if you´d work in the finance team. The finance function collects expenses from all employees and needs to find a way to get all the transactions accounted for in the books. Effectively, that means (re-)digitizing the information of each claim item, one by one.
Online expense claims are a slightly better alternative
The ease of use that online platforms can provide already offer a slightly better alternative to using physical expense reports. The task of filing these claims and processing justifications can be sped up significantly when compared to the use of paper forms.
There are disadvantages to online expense claims as well
While online claim submissions will work well for smaller organizations, those that have a large workforce will have to deal with more complexity. The higher number of transactions would require enhanced approval oversight due to the higher amounts involved.
Even though it’s certainly better than having to deal with physical expense reports, it doesn’t solve the problem of having to manually match the claims and receipts with the claimed transactions. This can increase the workload of finance managers who must validate the authenticity of every claim before approving it.
Free Google Form to help you shift from physical to online expense claims
Despite its disadvantages, it’s still much better to have your employees file their claims online as opposed to using physical forms. We are delighted to provide you with a free expense report we have created with Google Forms.
Your employees can use it to submit reimbursement requests for everything from travel to meals. Use the form to make expense claims simpler and save a lot of time for the company in the process.
- Download the expense report by clicking on the banner;
- Adjust the fields to your own accounting workflow;
- Send the expense report to all your employees;
- Justification data will automatically be kept in an overview.
If you have any question regarding the Google Form. Or if you want help and advice with adjusting the fields. Please don’t hesitate to contact our team.
How SimpledCard can help finance teams further simplify the expense reporting process
SimpledCard takes the pain out of the expense reporting process for you and your employees. No more manual matching of transactions and claims by your finance team. With SimpledCard every claim is automatically coupled to the right transaction amount.
Use our platform to issue bank-independent Mastercard and Maestro cards to employees for business expenses.
When the card is used, the employee will receive an instant notification. They can now capture the receipt through the mobile app and submit the claim right after they made a payment. This greatly reduces the risk of receipts becoming unreadable and frees the employee of the burden of lengthy claim submissions.
The digitally secured data can be directly imported into your ERP or accounting software. You can even set up SimpledCard’s platform to fully match your bookkeeping workflow.
As a finance manager, you can control and approve claims yourself or delegate these roles. At any time you will have a holistic view of the budgets allocated to employees. And adjust them as need be, in real-time.
It also helps increase financial discipline among employees. In addition, finance teams get full control over all business expenses.
Do you want to know more about the expense reports? Or how you can adapt the free Google Form expense report example to your own accounting workflow? Please contact our team of experts.