25 Jul 2023
3 minutes

Simplify line item accounting with Payhawk's innovative features

Payhawk line item accounting feature screenshot
Quick summary

When handling finances for SMBs or larger corporations, line items can become a vital accounting feature. They enable finance professionals to segment incomes and/or expenses into separate lines, instead of acquiring them as one source.

Table of Contents

    With Payhawk’s new line item feature, it’s easy to understand exactly where your spending goes, helping you better understand your corporate expenditure. Business spenders can now effortlessly add notes to each line item when splitting an expense. This lets them capture even more detail on spend and means that there is even more information for accounting once exported via an ERP or accounting software integration.

    Sometimes a single invoice does not tell a whole story. Some invoices can contain expenditure data from several different sources, and classifying certain items in different categories in such cases makes a lot of sense. That’s when adding custom fields like cost centre and project, and varying tax rates comes in very useful. And line items can help you go a step further.

    In the realm of accounting, line items refer to individual components or categories within financial statements that break down and classify revenues, expenses, assets, and liabilities. Our new line item feature allows users to categorise each one of these separately.

    Why line items are important

    Line items are essential to finance professionals for the following reasons:

    1. Detailed financial reporting:
    Line items allow for a higher degree of accuracy when it comes to financial reporting, giving finance leaders a clear and comprehensive breakdown of the company's invoices. By classifying revenues, expenses, and other financial items under one receipt separately, line items provide granularity that helps facilitate accurate analysis and guide better decision-making.

    2. Financial analysis and evaluation:
    Line items let you analyse and evaluate different aspects of the company's financial performance. By breaking down financial data into specific categories, you can assess profitability, look at corporate expense management, and identify areas for improvement. This level of analysis is essential, especially for larger companies dealing with substantial revenue streams and diverse business operations.

    3. Comparability and benchmarking:
    This feature allows for comparability across different periods, business units, or industry benchmarks. Companies can consistently track and categorise financial information to compare their performance over time or against similar external entities. This helps identify trends, measure progress, and make informed decisions based on reliable data.

    4. Compliance with reporting standards:
    Line item accounting is also crucial for ensuring compliance with accounting standards and reporting requirements. By following a standardised classification of financial items, companies can meet regulatory obligations, adhere to industry-specific guidelines, and maintain transparency in financial reporting.

    How to enhance spend visibility and control with Payhawk

    The role of line items in financial analysis

    Line items play a significant role in accurate financial analysis and expense tracking. By categorising transactions and financial data, line items enable finance professionals to gain real-time insights for spend management processes. Here's how they contribute to:

    Expenses categorisation: Line items enable finance professionals to identify cost centres, custom expense categories, and track fund allocation . By assigning expenses to line items, it becomes easier to analyse spending patterns, identify areas of excessive or unnecessary costs, and implement cost-saving measures.

    Granular expense breakdown: Line items provide an itemised breakdown of expenses, which is essential for accurate analysis. For example, line items in the "Advertising" category may include expenses for online advertising, print media, or event sponsorships. This level of detail allows for precise analysis of spending trends and helps assess the effectiveness of various marketing strategies.

    Budgeting: An efficient line item breakdown can serve as the foundation for effective budgeting processes. By breaking down expenses into specific categories, finance professionals can allocate funds accurately and budget future financial activities. Well-structured line items provide the necessary visibility to set budgetary goals and monitor spending against those targets.

    Forecasting: Line items are instrumental in accurate business forecasting. Analysing historical data within specific line items helps finance professionals identify trends and patterns, which help predict future expenses. This forecasting capability enables better resource allocation, helps anticipate financial risks, and supports strategic decision-making.

    Decision-making: A well-structured line item breakdown also empowers finance professionals to make informed decisions. By analysing financial data within specific line items, they can evaluate the financial implications of various choices. For example, when considering a new project, finance professionals can analyse the associated line items to assess the project's profitability, impact on cash flow, and alignment with strategic goals.

    Challenges of manual line item management

    Manually managing line items is challenging.

    Here are common difficulties and discuss the limitations and risks associated with using legacy systems and outdated approaches:

    Time-consuming data entry: Manually entering line item data into spreadsheets or accounting systems is time-consuming. Finance teams must manually input each transaction or expense, which can result in data inconsistencies.

    Human error and inaccuracies: Manually managing line items increases the risk of human error. Typos, incorrect categorisations, or even missed entries can compromise the accuracy of financial data. These inaccuracies can lead to flawed financial analysis and inappropriate budget allocation.

    Lack of scalability: Manual management of line items becomes increasingly challenging as the volume of transactions or expenses grows. Handling a large amount of data manually can lead to bottlenecks, delays, and hamper productivity.

    Limited visibility and analysis: Manual line item management often lacks real-time visibility and analysis capabilities. This hampers the ability to track expenses effectively and restricts access to important insights.

    How Payhawk transforms line item accounting

    Finance professionals can leverage automation and technology solutions like our all-in-one expense management software to overcome the challenges of managing line items manually.

    At Payhawk, our solution seamlessly integrates with accounting platforms and ERPs to consolidate all line item data into a single, user-friendly interface. With our solution, finance teams can efficiently manage line item categorisation, tracking, and reconciliation in just a few seconds.

    Our solution offers:

    1. Automated line item extraction:

    Our intelligent platform automatically extracts line items from invoices and receipts. This eliminates the need for manual data entry, saving time and reducing the risk of errors. Finance professionals can easily access and analyse detailed line item data without the hassle of manual processing.

    2. Customisable line item categories:

    Our software allows for customisable line item categories tailored to your organisation's needs. You can define specific categories based on your industry, expense types, or even project-specific requirements. This flexibility ensures that you can classify line items in a way that aligns with your financial management processes.

    3. Real-time line item tracking:

    We provide real-time tracking of line items, giving finance professionals immediate visibility into expenses. This empowers them to monitor and manage expenditures efficiently, detect any anomalies, and make timely decisions.

    4. Integration with accounting systems:

    Our software integrates seamlessly with popular accounting systems like QuickBooks, Xero, and Netsuite. These integrations mean that your line item info can flow seamlessly into your accounting system, maintaining accuracy and consistency across all financial records.

    5. Efficient reconciliation:

    We simplify the process of reconciling line item data by automatically matching transactions to invoices, receipts, and other documentation, reducing the need for manual reconciliation. Our powerful OCR technology extracts vital information from invoices, improving accuracy and eliminating the need for manual data entry. Reconciliation becomes a seamless and efficient process, saving time and reducing errors.

    6. Handling varying tax rates:

    Our line item feature and direct integrations also accommodate varying tax rates for different items on an invoice. Finance professionals can assign custom tax rates to each line item, ensuring accurate tax calculations and simplifying reconciliation.

    Examples & best practices for using line items successfully

    Example 1: Improved expense tracking

    A marketing agency found tracking expenses related to various campaigns and client projects challenging. They were using manual spreadsheets and had no clear visibility into spending patterns. By implementing our line item feature, they could automatically categorise expenses by project and view spending data in real time. This enabled them to monitor expenses more effectively and allocate budgets accurately.

    Example 2: Increased efficiency and accuracy

    A non-profit organisation used paper receipts and manual data entry to manage expenses. This process was time-consuming and prone to errors. Adopting our line item feature and OCR technology for automated data extraction lets them eliminate manual data entry and significantly reduce the risk of errors. This allowed them to focus on more mission-critical activities, such as fundraising and program management.

    Example 3: Streamlined reconciliation

    A retail company struggled to reconcile employee reimbursements and vendor payments expenses. With our integrated feature, they could match transactions to invoices and automate the reconciliation process. This streamlined their accounting processes and improved accuracy, allowing them to make informed decisions based on up-to-date data.

    Steps to implement effective line item reporting

    While the benefits of our line item feature are clear, you need to implement it effectively to maximise its impact.

    Here are some practical tips for implementing our line item feature effectively:

    Step 1 : Define clear categorisation rules

    Develop clear rules for categorising expenses, such as standard categories and accounting codes. Ensure that these rules are automated across the organisation and are easy to understand. This will help to standardise the categorisation process and improve accuracy.

    Step 2 : Leverage OCR Technology

    OCR technology can help you automate data entry by extracting key information from receipts and invoices. This significantly reduces the risk of errors and saves time. Ensure that you upload receipts and invoices to the platform promptly to fully take advantage of this feature.

    Step 3: Establish approval workflows

    Establish clear approval workflows for expense management to ensure that you review and authorise transactions appropriately. This helps to prevent fraud, improve accountability, and maintain compliance with internal control standards.

    Step 4: Monitor spending regularly
    Regularly monitor line item spending for effective expense management. Use our platform to monitor expenses in real time and promptly identify discrepancies or anomalies. This helps ensure you can take corrective measures promptly and use budgets effectively.

    Supercharge line item accounting with Payhawk

    Our line-item features (and direct integrations) help finance teams get even more spend data for accounting and analysis.

    Plus with advanced OCR-enabled receipt capture, corporate cards with multi-currency support, and powerful expense management software, we empower finance teams to reinvent how they manage business spend.

    Schedule a demo today if you want to explore how detailed spend categorisation and real time reconciliation can help your business get visibility and control over spend.

    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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