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Technology Tip

Technology Tip
Dave Pelland Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

Improve Your Finances With Mobile Expense Management

Improve Your Finances With Mobile Expense Management

Efficient expense management is a common challenge for small business owners, but a growing number of mobile and cloud-based tools are helping companies automate and improve an often-cumbersome process.

Keeping track of expenses and receipts can be frustrating for business owners, sales reps and other team members who spend part, or most, of their time out of the workplace.

Like flossing, eating more vegetables or other healthy habits, everybody knows it's important to track expenses and save receipts - but a lot of people fall short of their good intentions.

Expense Management Benefits

Keeping track of your small business expenses can help improve your company's financial position in several ways:

  • Tax deductibility: Being able to document your expenses is important, not only in being able to answer any tax-related questions or to respond to an audit, but also in helping you avoid overlooking any legitimate deductions your company is entitled to take.
  • Cash management: Tracking and reviewing your expenses can help you understand how and where your company is spending its money. In addition to insights about your spending patterns, reviewing your expenses can provide early warning signs if you're spending more than you should be.
  • Reimbursing employees faster: Speeding up the submission and review of expenses means employees can be reimbursed in less time - leading to fewer complaints and reducing the hassle of lost receipts.
  • Fraud prevention: Most business owners have good reason to trust their employees, but it can be tempting for some people to round up their mileage totals, or to turn in receipts for personal expenses. Careful expense management and monitoring can help reduce this risk.

Mobile Tools

Probably the most important way to help people track expenses more carefully is to make the process less painful or cumbersome.

Mobile expense management apps help simplify tracking in several ways. The most common approach is using a smartphone camera to capture a receipt, and letting the app use its optical character recognition (OCR) technology to extract data from the receipt. The data is then categorized automatically and uploaded to a cloud-based expense management dashboard for approval.

Similarly, some expense management tools allow you to download payment card transactions directly from your bank's website, reducing the need to enter expenses on the go.

Expense data can also be exported automatically to your financial management program, saving you time and effort when it comes to preparing information for your bookkeeper or tax professional.

Some programs also include automated mileage tracking that's based on the mobile device's GPS capabilities. Just start and stop tracking the mileage as you drive to a business appointment, and your expenses will be calculated and submitted automatically.

Popular mobile expense management apps include Expensify, Shoeboxes, Neat, Zoho Expenses, and other choices.

Most apps include cloud services that are available for modest subscription fees. Depending on your business and the amount of time people spend out of the workplace, a mobile and cloud expense management tool can pay for itself in time savings and tax deductions rather quickly.

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