Best Expense Management Software

Learn what expense management solutions can do for your general organisation.

Updated: January 22, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

 
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It goes without saying that being able to handle all of your various expenses efficiently is a massive part of running a business, and this goes for businesses of all sizes.

Of course, some of the larger businesses out there are generally going to have a few more things to manage when it comes to this, but the fact remains that if you're still using some kind of paper-based method, you're doing yourself a disservice — not to mention creating a lot of stress for yourself.

So, to properly deal with all your finances, you're realistically going to need some kind of expense management solution, which is the main focus of this article.

Obviously, the shift from paper-based solutions to software on your computer can be a little bit jarring if you're not too computer savvy, so throughout this article, we'll be taking a closer look at what expense management software actually is, how it operates, and which ones are generally the best for your business.

ServiceScoreRegister
1. FreshBooks★★★★★Click Here
2. Revolut Business★★★★★Click Here
3. QuickBooks★★★★★Click Here
4. Wallester★★★★★Click Here
5. Sage Intacct★★★★Click Here
6. Zoho Expense★★★★Click Here

What Is Expense Management Software?

To kick things off, let's provide a little bit of background information as to what this software actually does.

It generally sounds slightly more complicated than what it really is, but put simply, this is just a computer program that gives your business a convenient way of handling all of your expenses — whether that's tracking payments or expense reporting.

A lot of you smaller business owners out there are probably a bit more used to using traditional paper-based methods when it comes to your accounting, but generally speaking, this a fairly antiquated way of doing things — especially with how cheap and easy-to-use some of the more modern solutions out there are that make the overall process a lot faster and more accurate.

Again, whether you need to create expense reports, track your outgoings, or you need something that'll integrate nicely with your current accounting software, this kind of management platform is able to handle a bunch of different financial tasks.

How Does Expense Management Software Work?

For a bit more detail, let's break down some of the things this kind of software does to help you out with the overall expense management process:

Data Capture and Receipt Management

Firstly, you've got a range of different options available to you that'll help you capture expense data and ultimately ensure that none of your expenses ever go unrecorded.

Obviously, one of the most fundamental ways of doing this is simply by manually inputting your expenses — not dissimilar to how you'd write things down on paper — but depending on which platform you sign up for, you're able to do this a lot more conveniently by taking a picture of paper receipts using the mobile app that comes with the software.

Alternatively, you can also do things like linking your business credit card to the platform so you're able to import all of your transactions automatically, naturally saving you quite a bit of time.

So, all of this generally helps out a lot in terms of streamlining the process, but aside from this, it generally reduces the overall chance of making accidental errors, too, since it eliminates a lot of the potential for human error.

The mobile app integration factor is a particularly valuable feature here, too, as it means that you're able to instantly capture and upload any receipts you might have while you're on the go — meaning you're not only staying up to date faster, but you're also eliminating the general risk of losing paper receipts.

Expense Categorisation and Organisation

While you can obviously do this on paper, too, the majority of expense management software lets you place all of your expenses in specific categories so you're able to stay organised — whether you're filtering things by project, department, or any other relevant criteria that you can think of and need separating.

You don't need us to tell you how crucial organisation is for things like budgeting, analysing various costs, or simply just tax reporting, but it's worth mentioning it, still, so you can see just how easy it is track business funds and generally identify any areas where you might be able to save a bit of money.

Integration With Accounting Software

Some of you business owners out there might not be entirely living in the past and already have some kind of accounting software, so it's just as well that most expense management software lets you link their platform with it.

Ultimately meaning that you're able to reconcile all of the expenses and don't have to switch between various apps to get the data that you're looking for.

It's also worth mentioning that merging both of these platforms means you no longer have to enter data manually, so this naturally helps reduce the risk of accidentally inputting the wrong information — all while saving you some time.

Expense Report Submission and Approval

A lot of this software comes with a bunch of workflow management features, too, which is just another one of the ways you're able to simplify the overall process involved when you're submitting (and approving, too) expense reports.

Because employees are also able to access this software, they're able to submit any of their reports to be reviewed by you and your management team, where you're then able to either approve or reject expenses pretty easily.

We'll move onto this topic in a little bit more detail shortly, but streamlining your overall workflow like this generally helps you create a clear trail for auditing — obviously something that is massive in terms of staying compliant as a business when doing your taxes.

Data Analysis and Reporting

As we touched on earlier, you're able to conduct a lot of data analysis with expense management software that helps you out when generating any kind of reports based on your business expenses — something that's obviously not possible to automate when you're just using pen and paper.

In terms of what kinds of reports you're actually able to make, it's going to differ depending on which software you've chosen, but generally speaking, you're going to be able to access certain insights into your spending patterns, which will ultimately let you make much better financial decisions.

Secure Audit Trail

Coming back to the point we made before, this software can be a massive help when it comes to keeping a detailed audit trail of all of your expense-related activities.

For anyone who doesn't know what this actually means, an audit trail is essentially a record of all your various transactions, and it's an absolutely vital part of running your business when you need to interact with HMRC because of the general transparency it provides.

So, in the context of expense management software, it's going to give you a much clearer record of who submitted various expenses, as well as things like when they were approved and what kinds of changes were made during the process (if any).

Pros and Cons of Expense Management Software

We've talked quite a lot about all the different benefits that you can expect when using expense management software.

While the list of pros generally tends to outweigh some of the cons, it's still worth mentioning some of the drawbacks so that we're able to be impartial before getting into the review section of the article:

Pros

✔️ Enhanced Efficiency — We've already covered this at length, but it's worth revisiting how much more efficient some of your day-to-day activities are when you start using this kind of software. As things such as mobile app integration for receipt capture and how you can handle all your expense claims automatically generally makes it so much easier to manage your business expenses than some of the traditional methods that you'd have to do manually. Of course, this saves you plenty of time, but try to think about how much of an impact it has on your employees, too, and the amount of administrative burden that you're lifting from their shoulders.

✔️ Accuracy and Compliance — As we've touched on regarding how useful this software is for maintaining a clear audit trail, certain features that you'll gain access to — categorising all of your business expenses automatically and using features that'll help enforce certain policies you might have, for instance — are all going to help minimise your risk of accidental fraud (or just other kinds of errors that you don't mean to make) so that entire process ends up being a lot more transparent and compliant in the grander scheme of things.

✔️ Accessibility and Mobility — Generally speaking, most expense management software is actually cloud-based (rather than being tied down to one specific location), so you're usually able to access your platform of choice and all your financial data from literally anywhere that you have an internet connection — something that's naturally going to pretty helpful if you're a business that's on the move a lot. Of course, the fact that it integrates with a mobile app only further adds to this point, too.

Cons

❌️ Initial Setup and Training — You'll usually have to set some time and effort aside to actually figure out how to use the system properly and show all your employees — of course, expense management software generally tends to be pretty user-friendly, but there can still be a pretty steep learning curve that your employees will have to get comfortable with.

❌️ Expense Management Software Cost Per Month — Whichever way you spin it, this kind of software is definitely going to lead to some cost savings in the long run — that doesn't mean there isn't a big amount of money you'll have to fork out in the beginning to get it up and running, though. Whether it's purchasing the software itself, having to train your staff, or finding ways to integrate it with all your existing systems, it's going to cost you. If you're only a small business, in particular, you might find this a little bit cost-prohibitive, all things considered.

❌️ Over-Reliance on Technology — It's not great to rely on any one thing in the workplace, but relying heavily on expense management software, specifically, is definitely going to lead to some issues if you end up facing some technical issues or outages — so try to make sure you've got some sort of plan to handle all your expenses manually if the system goes down temporarily.

❌️ Employee Resistance — Whether they're worried about their privacy/data security or generally just don't like change, you should probably expect some of your employees to resist the transition from whatever system you're currently using to expense management software, so make sure you're transparent and educate them to help with this.

Best Expense Management Software — Reviews

To round up everything that we've covered so far, expense management software can definitely take a little while to wrap your head around.

Especially if you've been used to using physical accounting methods this whole time — but it's definitely something worth exploring.

So, in this next part of the article, we'll be walking you through our top six choices that you can use for your business — some for free, some paid, but all of them are incredibly useful nonetheless.

1. FreshBooks

To kick things off, let's take a look at FreshBooks, which you might know more about for their general invoicing services, given that's all it started off as.

Further down the line, though, FreshBooks turned into a much more versatile platform that you can now use to streamline a bunch of your business operations (which is, of course, the whole point of expense management software) — covering a range of things like time and expense tracking, various tools for managing your teams' projects, and, naturally, various invoicing services, too.

To highlight this invoice management feature a little bit more, it's worth mentioning that, despite still being great for all your other expense management needs, this is obviously where it shines the most.

You can even do things like include how long your employees have spent working on a specific project when drafting invoices with literally just one click, for instance.

Aside from their invoicing features, though, you've also got all the basic things you'd expect with expense management software, too, whether that's the ability to scan your mobile receipts automatically or how they capture things like vendor details for you — all of which help keep your business dashboard up-to-date.

Having said all this, it's still worth noting that FreshBooks doesn't offer anywhere near the kind of built-in banking capabilities as some of the other options on this list — Revolut, for instance, which we'll be covering next.

Pros

✔️ Ideal for anyone less familiar with this software since it's intuitive and starts at only £6 per month.

✔️ Can integrate plenty of other tools.

✔️ Great mobile app and customer support.

Cons

❌️ It can be pretty expensive for extra team member seats once you start growing.

2. Revolut Business

Following on from the previous option, Revolut can do a lot of things that FreshBooks can, but its main strength lies in all its business management features — even giving you and your team debit/credit cards (regardless of how big your team is) that you can control the spending limits of and block/freeze whenever you need to.

It's definitely not just general spending tools that you're getting with Revolut, either, as when you start using their app, you'll see things like expense management tools for your employees, essentially letting you categorise and log all of their expenses automatically — letting you turn them into real-time data and comprehensive reports pretty easily.

Lastly, you've also got features that'll help with approval workflows, basically letting you and your team managers start expense approvals and get notifications of all your employee spending.

Obviously, this is not something you'd really need if you're a freelancer or some other kind of sole proprietor, so it's just as well that there's a free plan available if you only need some of the more basic tools.

Pros

✔️ Relatively competitive pricing that starts at £19 per month.

✔️ Don't have to pay anything if you don't want since they have a free plan available.

✔️ Very easy to use, especially for all of the approval workflow features.

✔️ Great for managing spending control (with their proprietary debit cards) if you've got a lot of employees.

Cons

❌️ You can't actually make any cash deposits into your Revolut account, so you'd have to top your accounts up using an external account instead.

3. QuickBooks

Moving forward, we've got QuickBooks, which is another great choice for managing your business expenses since it allows you to track things like income, mileage and, of course, expenses.

Now, there are definitely other tools out there that offer these same kinds of features (making it not exactly the most unique platform on this list), but the main way QuickBooks distinguishes itself from the other options here is how useful it is for all your accounting needs — allowing you to monitor tax deductions and even generate tax reports, too.

Generally speaking, they're always up-to-date with tax laws and regulations, too, so that's how they're always able to give you accurate calculations when it comes to your tax deductions.

To explain this point a little bit further, like many of the other platforms, QuickBooks lets you categorise all your business expenses into various sections as well, so this naturally makes it even easier to access all of your deductible expenses come tax season.

Again, one of the main reasons you'd choose QuickBooks over some of the other options in this review section is for add-ons like their live-assisted bookkeeping tools, so customer service is generally a top priority of theirs — only further helping keep you on track for tax season since you've got access to expert advice at all times.

Pros

✔️ Makes the payment process a lot simpler.

✔️ Great for staying compliant with tax regulations and general bookkeeping advice (given that it is primarily an accounting software.

✔️ Easy to use.

Cons

❌️ They do offer features that'll help automate all of your workflow, but this sort of thing only comes with its most expensive plan, which isn't particularly affordable.

4. Wallester

Our next option here, Wallester, is generally a bit more geared to helping your business with things like budget management and how to allocate your resources more effectively than anything else.

Having said that, unlike some of our other choices for expense management software, Wallester is definitely better suited for some of the more sizeable companies out there.

So you can skip forward if you're only a freelancer or sole proprietor who doesn't need to create things like separate cards for various teams/projects.

That latter feature, for instance, is way more important for any business owners who need to stop overspending among different departments, so it obviously doesn't really apply to businesses with only a few employees.

Still, like most of the platforms we've covered thus far, your financial department's going to be able to create financial reports relatively effortlessly with Wallester, so it's generally a platform that's got all the tools you need to manage business expenses.

Pros

✔️ Comes with tons of different features.

✔️ Great customer support, especially for the more expensive plans (as expected).

Cons

❌️ Starts at £169.95 per month, which is obviously out of most company's price range — there is still a free plan for small businesses with less disposable cash, though.

5. Sage Intacct

Sage Intacct is another top choice here, and it's mainly to do with the fact you're able to see different kinds of insights into things like your spending patterns, essentially allowing you to see what areas you can save a bit of money in.

Generally speaking, it simplifies the whole expense reporting process, too, since your team is able to type in their time and expense data from basically anywhere, where it'll then get sent straight to you so you can review it quickly and approve the timesheets.

Then, once you've actually approved these various expenses, they go straight into the ‘Accounts Payable' system that comes with their platform, so you're then able to ensure your employees are receiving their reimbursements.

Pros

✔️ Their platform comes with various features that'll work with a range of different business sectors.

✔️ They'll help you out when getting started — which is ideal because the software is slightly more complicated to use than some of the others here.

✔️ Includes fixed assets tracking functionality.

Cons

❌️ Fairly clunky UI.

❌️ Doesn't tell you how much it'll cost straight away, so you'll need to contact their support team for specific details.

6. Zoho Expense

Our last choice is Zoho Expense, which is great because it's not just a platform you use to manage expenses like most of our other picks here; it's also perfect for helping you budget things like travel expenses.

Naturally, this makes it a platform that's best suited for slightly larger, or at least medium-sized, businesses since start-ups, for instance, aren't exactly going on too many business flights.

Aside from this, they're also pretty useful for general cash flow management features, as your team's able to submit expenses on the go for fairly quick approvals — even including tools for handling purchase requests, making it easy to manage pre-approved spending.

Pros

✔️ One of the cheaper options on this list as it ends up being around £10 a month (you're billed annually, though, so the total price is £120).

✔️ Can use their platform for two weeks completely free.

✔️ Built-in mileage tracking.

Cons

❌️ While you can use a free trial to get a feel for things, it only works for three different users.

❌️ All of the travel management features we've talked about generally only come with the more expensive plans that they offer.

Final Thoughts

To wrap things up, it's fairly clear why having some kind of business expense management system is pretty useful for your company, and it's not even as though you have to break the bank to use them either — the majority of them either come with free plans or are just generally rather cheap (Zoho Expense only costing £10 per month, for example).

So, whether you're a freelancer who only needs the most basic features to help you out with your accounting or you're a slightly larger business that needs to manage all of your employee expenses, we definitely recommend you explore one of the options we've explored on this list.

Related Guides:

Best Expense Management Software: FAQs

Are There Any Privacy Concerns Related to Using Expense Management Software?

How Does Expense Management Software Handle Paper Receipts?

Is Expense Management Software Compatible With Various Kinds of Operating Systems?

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