The preparation of travel expense reports is associated with a high level of effort in many companies - for traveling employees and the administration. This is why more and more software providers for online travel expense reports are establishing themselves with software helping to reduce the time required for all parties involved and thus save costs.
In this article, we highlight what a good digital travel accounting software needs to bring to the table and how this can help providers stand out.
Definition travel expense report
In travel expense reporting, all costs incurred in the course of a business trip are compiled. The aim is to reimburse the employee's expenses consisting of travel costs, ancillary travel costs, additional meal expenses and accommodation costs as expenses.
Travel expense report: Traditional way
Especially in smaller companies, the accounting of business trips is still done manually in Excel. For this purpose, there are some Excel templates that can be downloaded free of charge from the Internet. The travel data is manually entered into the Excel file, printed out and supplemented by the collected paper receipts in order to send it to the accounting department or an external service provider who performs the final accounting. In case of incompleteness of the documents or queries, telephone or e-mail is then resorted to.
This can quickly lead to time delays and a potential overrun of period limits. The entire process of travel expense reimbursement thus takes place at different levels, it is difficult for all parties involved to track the current status, and it can take time for the employee to receive the reimbursement. Manual processes are also more prone to errors, especially since travel expense reports must comply with tax requirements and possibly also internal travel expense guidelines. This can happen quickly, especially when flat rates are adjusted abroad.
Travel expense report digital: New way
Since many companies have already recognized the disadvantages of manual travel expense reporting in Excel, they use special software that accelerates the process in real time. SAP Concur, Lexware, Datev or Belegmeister can be mentioned here as examples.
This process starts with digital receipt management, i.e. the scanning and digital management of paper receipts such as invoices, hospitality receipts or receipts. Digital receipt management offers numerous advantages over traditional receipt management.
With the smartphone, the receipts can be scanned quickly and easily immediately after receipt. The data from the receipts can be automatically recognized and extracted thanks to optical character recognition (OCR). This means that they can be automatically transferred to the software via an interface and thus trigger the pre-filling of the expense form.
The employee only has to check the recognized values, correct incorrect data if necessary, or add values that are not recognized (e.g. the occasion of the entertainment, which is not shown on the invoice). This eliminates the need for manual data entry, reduces susceptibility to errors and saves time. In addition, the security of the documents is increased, as employees cannot easily lose the receipts digitally.
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The digitally captured receipts can be assigned to the transaction in the next step, so that the display can be traced at any time.
Many travel expense programs also offer verification of the recorded expenses with the stored travel expense policy and tax rules, so that the statement does not have to be sent back and forth between employees and accounting several times for correction. This again saves time and also resources in accounting.
The final approval of the costs to be reimbursed can also take place digitally in the software. This makes it possible to track where the approval process stands and which person is currently responsible for the approval.
How software vendors develop a USP
As a software provider for travel expense reporting, the first step has already been taken: It is digital software and the advantages over traditional, manual accounting have already been acknowledged.
In order for you as a software provider to stand out from the rest with your software, you should already pay attention to simple user guidance and simplification for all participants right at the beginning of the workflow. This is made possible by considering the following aspects:
- Digital document entry via smartphone (own app)
A high-quality scanner should be integrated, which also achieves good scanning results in low light conditions. The automatic recognition of the document with subsequent automatic release and perspective correction also represent an added value. In addition, it makes sense that scanning can also take place offline and no internet connection is required, which is especially useful when abroad.
For travelers, even the first step of accounting is greatly simplified and data can be read out in the best possible way thanks to OCR.
In addition to scanning, it should also be possible to import existing images or PDFs.
- Use of the detected data for automatic prefilling
Digitizing the receipts is a first step to avoid losing paper receipts and to have them directly in the system. In addition to scanning, automatically reading and recognizing the contents of the receipt using OCR is another step towards automating the process. Once the data of a hospitality invoice, such as date, total amount, VAT and location is recognized, it can be extracted and used to automatically populate the expense form. This saves the employee manual typing and reduces errors.
Document scanner for your app
Want to add the best, high-quality scanner to your expense report software that also has automatic text recognition?
Then contact us without obligation for an initial consultation and send us a message to SDK@Docutain.com.
Advantages of Docutain Scanner SDK for your expense report software
- Integration in under one day
- High quality scanner proven by millions of users for years
- State-of-the-art functionalities such as automatic triggering, cropping, perspective correction, filters
- Functions are local on the device, no third-party or external server connectivity for maximum security
- Scanning and OCR work 100% offline
- Flexible and agile support available to you along with detailed documentation
- Attractive pricing model, aligned with your business model