Tracking your nickels and dimes

Q What’s the best way to keep track of my expenses?

A  You need to be able to track expenses as they’re incurred. Before tax season rolls around again, you should find a good expense management tool and establish a system, documented in the employee manual, that covers this subject all the way through to determining how tax data will be provided to your accountant at the end of the year.

This expense management tool should be easy for anyone to use and customizable to fit your company’s needs. It should be accessible online, allowing you to process expenses at your convenience. It should have the ability to import expense data into your accounting software, saving time on data entry and improving accuracy. It should create expense reports automatically, pulling numbers from airline, car and hotel itineraries; credit card transactions; checking accounts; and receipts. Some tools even remember common transactions to save time and convert transactions for international travelers into the appropriate currency based on the travel date.

This tool should also have a mobile interface so you can review and approve expenses on your phone or tablet. You should be able to quickly scroll through to review, approve or deny submitted expenses. With some tools, you can take a picture of each receipt with your phone and upload it for attachment to an expense report at a later time.

Most importantly, a good expense management tool lets you compare daily expenses incurred to your budget in near real-time, keeping track of those all-important nickels and dimes so you don’t have to wait 30 days before receiving and reviewing important expense reports.

Finally, you can use this tool to automate and streamline your back-office tasks for expense reimbursement, minimizing errors and freeing up accountants for more critical tasks. Your employees will get paid faster, and your accountant can directly import credit card transactions and click to pay approved expense reports by check or direct deposit, saving hours of manual entry. Make it a policy to never mess with your employees’ paychecks or expense reimbursements, or trust in your brand will erode quickly!