15 Jun 2023
5 min read

A complete guide to the best expense management software features

Trish Toovey - Content Director at Payhawk - The financial system of tomorrowTrish Toovey
finance manager reviewing expense management software
Quick summary

This guide explores top expense management features and how the right software can streamline business finances. Learn about intuitive dashboards, mobile apps, automated workflows, receipt capture, and more.

Table of Contents

    What is expense management software?

    Expense management software refers to a digital solution that automates and simplifies various aspects of tracking, reporting, analysing, and controlling employee expenses while adhering to corporate policies or tax regulations. These systems enable organisations to eliminate manual procedures like data entry, sorting through paper receipts, and lengthy approval chains, instead replacing them with efficient workflows fueled by innovative technology.

    Whether handling travel reimbursements or monitoring operating costs, expense management systems pave the way for better-organised financial records and data-driven decision-making processes. You should also expect your chosen tool to integrate seamlessly with your accounting or ERP software, facilitating easy synchronisation between the systems and ensuring accuracy across all financial transactions and records.

    Some popular components of expense management solutions include:

    • Dashboards
    • Mobile apps for on-the-go access
    • Automated approval workflows
    • Digital receipt capture
    • Mileage tracking
    • Real-time reporting and analytics

    Choose the right spend management solution with our RFI template

    Features to look for in expense management software

    When searching for the best expense management software, it’s essential to identify the features that meet the specific needs of your company. In this section, we’ll explore ten key features you should look for when evaluating different expense management systems.

    A good expense management software should have an intuitive dashboard for easy navigation and understanding. It should offer a clear interface with quick access to key financial data, like pending expenses and spending trends. Essential features include multi-entity management and a group dashboard, allowing the finance team to see all group expenses in one place without switching screens.

    Mobile app
    A mobile application is also vital since it allows employees to manage their expenses on the go. A good mobile app can streamline processes like receipt capture, receipt chasing, submitting reimbursements immediately upon purchase, approval automation, and more. Employees can manage their cards through the app, too and request additional funds when needed.

    Automated approval process
    Automation can simplify the often-complex approval process by enabling customisable spend approval workflows and controls based on your company’s policies. This may include setting limits for daily expenditures or pre-authorising certain expense categories or approval amounts.

    Digital receipt capture
    Eliminate piles of paper and ensure accurate record-keeping thanks to digital receipt capture. Robust expense software enables users to upload receipts effortlessly through their mobile devices or computers, significantly reducing administration time. Data capture and entry is time-consuming and expensive if done manually. But with the right OCR technology, businesses can automate this and save valuable time.

    Mileage tracker
    If your employees often need to travel for work purposes, incorporating a mileage tracking feature within your online expense management system is pivotal. And distance tracking should be automatic or easy for employees to log. At Payhawk, our mileage feature means admins can set different rates for mileage based on country laws and business preferences.

    Real-time reporting and analytics
    Accessing insightful reports about employee and team spending habits and overall budgetary compliance can help decision-makers make well-informed strategic choices. One of the quickest wins is to stop wasting money on unused and duplicate business subscriptions.

    Compatible with any accounting software
    Ensure that the expense management software you choose can seamlessly integrate with your existing financial systems. Compatibility enables a smooth data flow from one platform to another, streamlining processes and reducing manual data entry. With Payhawk, you can streamline your reconciliation process and achieve seamless data flow between our spend management solution and your chosen ERP or accounting software.

    Multi-currency functionality
    If your company operates in various locations or deals with international clients, multi-currency functionality is essential for tracking expenses. The software should automatically convert foreign transactions into your base currency, simplifying expense reporting and keeping financial records easily understandable regardless of where you incurred costs.

    Automatic categorisation of expenses and allocation of cost centre data
    Meticulous sorting and organising are crucial when managing business expenses. A highly capable expense management solution will include customisable categories and facilitate automated categorisation upon entry. This automation will then enable efficient allocation to relevant cost centres and align effortlessly with your organisational structure.

    Automated tax calculation (VAT/GST)
    An effective expense management solution should precisely compute VAT/GST for eligible expenses, ensuring tax compliance and simplifiyng cross-border transactions. This is especially important for modern organisations that are seeking to automate their accounting and financial processes while also expanding abroad.

    Stand-alone vs. all-in-one expense reporting software

    In your quest to find the best expense management software features, it's essential to understand the difference between stand-alone and all-in-one platforms.

    Stand-alone expense management software
    Stand-alone expense management software focuses solely on streamlining your business expenses processes – tracking receipts, automating approvals, generating reports, and other similar functions.

    Choosing a stand-alone system has some advantages:

    1. Specialisation: As these are designed explicitly for handling expenses, they tend to offer more tailored features and better overall functionality.
    2. Efficient Implementation: Integrating a stand-alone solution into your existing setup might be quicker due to its specific focus.
    3. Smaller company needs: If you run a smaller organisation without extensive accounting tools or human resources functionalities, using specialised expense management systems may be a cost-effective option.

    However, there can also be some drawbacks:

    • Extra complexity: You may have to manage multiple software platforms if your requirements grow beyond simple expense tracking
    • Limited integration potential: Connectivity with other platforms (i.e., accounting or ERP) within your organisation could be clunky rather than seamless

    All-in-one software with expense management
    On the other hand, all-in-one solutions provide a holistic approach in which an entire suite of financial tools is packaged together, such as corporate cards, multi-entity management, invoice management, and more – along with expense reporting capabilities under one software umbrella.

    A few reasons why businesses opt for an all-in-one platform include:

    1. Seamless integration: One significant advantage? The interconnectivity across applications feels easy and natural since everything operates under one system.
    2. Cost savings: Consolidating multiple processes into a single interface can result in lower subscription costs and streamlined staff training.
    3. Future-proofing: Having an all-in-one platform allows you to scale your software as your business grows, reducing the need for multiple stand-alone solutions. It also allows easier integration with other platforms.

    Ultimately, the decision between a stand-alone or an all-in-one expense management software depends on your organisation’s needs, budget, and desired level of automation. Before choosing, you should thoroughly analyse each option and assess its compatibility with your existing platforms.

    Common FAQs around expense management software

    How should I choose expense management software for your company?

    Selecting the right expense management software for your company is a critical decision. To make an informed choice, consider the following points carefully:

    1. Understand your needs: Begin by assessing your company’s specific requirements and challenges associated with reimbursements, expense tracking, and compliance.
    2. Consider scalability: Opt for a solution that can grow with your business and adapt to the organisation’s size and structure changes.
    3. Ease of use: Select a user-friendly system with an intuitive interface both on desktop and mobile devices to encourage employee adoption.
    4. Integration capabilities: Ensure the chosen software seamlessly integrates with other essential tools like accounting systems, payroll services, and corporate travel booking platforms.
    5. Customisation options: Verify if the expense management system offers customisable workflows tailored to match your organisation’s unique policies or approval chains.
    6. Security features: Since it will need to store sensitive data, prioritise solutions that provide robust security measures such as encryption, multi factor authentication, and data backup protocols.
    7. Customer support: Look for providers offering round-the-clock customer service through multiple channels like email, phone support, or live chat in case you need assistance during implementation or operation phases.
    8. Pricing model: Assess different pricing options various vendors offer to choose one that aligns with your budget while fulfilling all necessary features.

    By comparing various expense management systems based on these factors and using relevant keywords such as expenses software or online expense management during product research, you can select the most suitable solution tailored to your company’s needs and strategy.

    The pros of Payhawk in a nutshell

    • Payhawk is an all-in-one spend management solution that lets you manage employee expenses, reimbursements, invoices, suppliers, and corporate cards in a single platform.
    • It integrates directly with your ERP and accounting systems, allowing you to seamlessly export expenses, payments, and deposits in seconds. It also benefits from automatic two-way communication to save more than two hours daily on manual processes.
    • The powerful multi-entity management features will improve your cash flow control and support your month-end close across all your group’s entities.

    How much does expense management software cost?

    The cost of expense management software depends on several factors, such as its core features set, degree of customisation required, number of users/subscriptions/licenses needed within your organisation, and the training or implementation fees.

    At Payhawk, we offer three different pricing tiers, and you can choose the right one for your business needs.

    "Payhawk's functionality is way ahead of other solutions I've tried," Javier Gorena, CFO at Rentals United, says. "And, with many other tools, we find that as the volume of cards and transactions increases, the prices of the tool skyrockets. This can generate a huge cost as we carry out practically 10,000 transactions a month and move between 4-5 million. With Payhawk, this isn't an issue - thanks to cashback, the price stays very attractive."

    We have designed our new enterprise plan specifically for multinational enterprises using Oracle NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance. Its innovative features let multi-entity businesses take care of global expenses and corporate cards more effectively, boost spend control, and save time with finance task automation.

    Book a demo and learn more about our comprehensive global solution and take control of your business expenses.

    Trish Toovey - Content Director at Payhawk - The financial system of tomorrow
    Trish Toovey
    Senior Content Manager

    Trish Toovey works across the UK and US markets to craft content at Payhawk. Covering anything from ad copy to video scripting, Trish leans on a super varied background in copy and content creation for the finance, fashion, and travel industries.

    See all articles by Trish →

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