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June 02, 2022
3 minute read

The price of hating expense reports: True confessions and proven solutions.

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Written by Laura Slauson
filing expense reports

“I’ve used other programs where I just ended up paying for something because it was more difficult to expense it.” — Recent Airbase G2 review.

No judgment here. Who doesn’t hate completing expense reports? It often feels like facing this administrative nuisance is simply not worth it. But the cost of not dealing with reimbursement requests adds up. One study found that the total amount of unclaimed expenses in North America is a whopping $10.7B each year. Anyone who regularly shrugs off or procrastinates their expense reports is leaving money on the table — and it doesn’t have to be this way.

Psychologists say that the best way to change a bad habit is to change your routine to avoid relying on pure willpower to make the shift. Accordingly, the best way to overcome reimbursement request reluctance is to completely change the process. But don’t just take our word for it. Let’s hear from some people who have changed their ways.

The first step: admitting there’s a problem with expense reports.

“I previously used Expensify and building out an expense report felt cumbersome and not worth it for all those sub-$10 purchases.

If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. A British survey found that about one in three workers never file a request to be reimbursed for a work-related expense, and one of the common reasons was feeling that the amount was too small to deal with the hassle.

On top of the grind of expense reporting, employees often have to contend with delays in processing requests. A PYMNTS study found that 40% of employees who submit requests for reimbursement have experienced cash flow problems because of those delays. That can further disincentivize completing expense reports since there is no immediate gratification afterward.

Difficult reimbursement processes can also impact productivity when employees choose to avoid activities so they don’t have to deal with expenses. And the whole process takes away valuable time. Another reviewer explained expense reports’ impact on their time management before the switch to Airbase:

“Time is the biggest problem for me, personally. I work with customers directly and have very little time for backend operations and tasks. Airbase has helped me get reimbursements quickly.”

A pain-free cure for expense report resistance.

When reimbursement requests are built right into the purchasing process, there’s no need to steel yourself to face an expense report. In fact, you won’t need to complete one at all. Requesting reimbursement is no longer an act of colossal will, but rather a simple step that leverages the power of automation and well-designed workflows.

Here’s how a reimbursement request works on Airbase.

  1. Make a purchase.
  2. Using the Airbase mobile app, take a photo of the receipt and submit the reimbursement request right away. OR:
  3. Send the photo of the receipt to a dedicated receipt inbox.
  4. OCR technology scans the receipt and populates the details of the transaction.
  5. If a merchant had been used in the past, the previous general ledger category is auto-filled.
  6. The request is automatically routed to the correct approver(s) based on the set approval policy.
  7. Once approved, the reimbursement is paid directly to your bank account.

One reviewer notes the difference this simple process makes when spending money:

“After using a truly clunky expensing software, that honestly made me choose not to submit expenses for small items so I didn’t have to deal with it, Airbase is a breath of fresh air.”

A win-win solution for reimbursement requests.

Let’s not forget that dealing with traditional employee expense reporting isn’t easy for finance either. They have to:

  • Create an audit trail for each transaction.
  • Ensure every expense is approved and is compliant with expense policies.
  • Execute the payments.
  • Reconcile purchases with credit card statements.
  • Ensure everything is coded correctly to the GL.

The cumbersome processes and slow speed of expense reimbursements also create issues with visibility into the current financial status. That, in turn, impacts budgeting and forecasting. When reimbursement requests are processed as transactions take place, and the approved transactions can be synced to the GL, information is always up to date.

According to one reviewer, with these streamlined processes, it’s possible to move from hating the thought of requesting reimbursement to actually looking forward to it:

“People actually enjoy submitting expenses now. It’s just such a great expense management tool. Very easy to use, the reviewing process is much faster as cost, department, accounting classes are all summarized together.”

Book a demo with us to learn how Airbase makes reimbursement requests easy, fast, and pain free.

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