It's time! (to break up with your spreadsheets)

Expend Team

01 November 2021

It’s easy to understand why finance teams enjoy spreadsheets – they allow complex sets of data to be presented and re-configured with relative ease. 

And whilst spreadsheets remain a core financial tool, for many business finance tasks, they are being overtaken by expense management software when it comes to processing and managing employee expenses.  

Spreadsheets often need to be created from – and reconciled with – physical data entries, including expense forms, paper receipts and management sign offs. So, the variety of inputs, the capacity for missing or erroneous items, as well as the opportunity for fraud, means that spreadsheets can create both complexity and risk.


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So what's the solution?

Consider then the role of expenses management software, which eliminates piles of paperwork, forms and proofs of purchases. The emphasis is on digitisation at all stages – including data input, the approval process, and the reconciliation of expenses payments.  

With a significant reduction in double touching and double checking, lower error rates and auto checking of claims to match pre-agreed rules, there is significantly less ‘shuttling’ up and down the process when using expense management software rather than spreadsheets.

And remember that duplicated activity adds up to wasted effort and latent costs in businesses of all sizes.

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Here’s a quick round up of why it might be time to break up with your spreadsheets, when it comes to expenses management.

Too many users.

If firms operate a shared spreadsheet, each entry is at the mercy of the employee inputting their own expense claim data. The capacity for error is high, especially if employees are disenchanted with the expense claims process, and might not have their eye on detailed data input checks. 

Expenses management software can qualify the data entry against receipt data to determine that the claim is accurate, and can also validate the claimant and claim type, all as part of a fully automated process.

Operating cost.

A manual claims procedure is layered with employee cost. Add in cross checking by another employee, and the unit costs of each expense claim begin to add up.

Compare this with an automated routine run by management expense software, where many of the qualifying acceptance rules and cost categories are automatically operating as part of the data processing.

Data quality.

Spreadsheet entries call for expenses data to be sifted and categorised by the employee. This can lead to mis-categorisation, data errors and re-work.

Conversely, expense management software has the capability to scan and retrieve data from receipts, and compile datelined expense reports automatically. 

And when combined with a linked spending mechanism, such as an integrated employee payment card, there is no read to ‘handball’ data from a credit card statement onto an expenses claim spreadsheet. 

Approvals and sign offs.

Expense processes can be over-complicated and attract their own cast of approvers and signatories. Expense management software can relieve firms of unnecessary sign off stages, by focusing on and automating the rules which govern the process. And technology quickly allows new colleagues to be added to the claims process, and leavers to be removed. 


Just as expense management software can support a controlled process, reducing risk, it can also be used to provide visibility on key trends on expense claims, manage cash flow in real time, and identify improvements to company spend patterns. 

So, whilst there is still a place in financial operations for the versatile spreadsheet, when it comes to expense management, it might be time to break up with your spreadsheets and switch to expense management software.

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Disclaimer: This is not legal, accounting, or tax advice - it's simply a guide. If you need help, check with your accountant or contact HMRC directly.  

Expend Team

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