How to tell if an expense report template is right for your business

In Spend management by Heather Lohmann

We all love free stuff. And thanks to the internet, we’ve never had access to more of it. Free apps, free software, free advice, free trials… it’s all there for the taking.

We can also use free stuff to cut business costs. The expense report template is a perfect example. There’s an array of free expense report templates available: Excel spreadsheet templates, templates for a Mac, expense report forms, sample expense reports for small business, along with a plethora of guides and reporting examples.

Some people will tell you that no business should ever use an expense report template. That’s simply not true. For some companies, it makes more sense to invest in other areas before investing in T&E expense automation. But for other companies, using a spreadsheet for expenses makes no sense at all.

Can your business get by with a free expense report template? Find out by answering the following three questions:

Question #1: How many expense reports does your company process per month?

Expense reporting processes vary from one company to the next. And while we could take a deep dive into detailed considerations, here’s a simple way to tell if you are a candidate for automation: The average cost to process a single expense report drops from $20.65 to $12.51 with an automated (Aberdeen Group, 2013).

If your company only processes a few expense reports per month, using an expense report template is probably the more cost effective option. But if your company processes 50 or more expense reports per month, expense reporting software is worth exploring.

Again, needs vary for every organization. For example, companies that operate in highly regulated industries may be quicker to automate because the consequences of human error are higher. Other companies attempt to automate everything because they a) require a higher level of agility to compete, or b) aim to make agility a competitive advantage.

Question #2: How much is visibility worth to your company?

Enhanced visibility means different things to different stakeholders:

  • It can mean spend per business trip is greatly reduced because the expense policy travels with each employee, ensuring compliant, company-friendly purchasing decisions.
  • It can mean avoiding high interest rates because expense figures were up to date before the business owner signed a large contract.
  • It can mean procurement managers save time and money because rather than searching for the best supplier and shipping option for a specific situation, a system does it for them in a fraction of the time.

Again, much of this will come down to size and culture. The smaller the company, the easier it is to get by without added visibility because it’s easier to monitor cash flow from one day to the next. But increasing visibility into employee spend can help larger organizations recognize and improve broken travel and expense management processes.

Question #3: What are your business growth goals?

Nearly every business aims to grow revenue. But not every business plans to add new offerings, employees, locations, etc. The free expense report template can work just fine for static business models, but it’s not a good option for ambitious companies. It’s not scalable, it’s not mobile friendly, and it’s not employee friendly.

Eventually, growing companies will need systems that “talk” and employees who collaborate in real time. All this may seem complex, but it doesn’t need to be.

Wondering how your company can benefit from smarter spend management? Stop wondering and see for yourself. Let Deem show you how easy it is to start by taking a Test Drive.

About the Author
Heather Lohmann

Heather Lohmann


Heather Lohmann is a Content Marketing Manager at Deem and has been working in the SF tech industry for over 4 years. She received a bachelor’s degree from CSULB and an MFA in creative writing from the California College of the Arts.