Expense Reports Are a Waste of Time

Expense Reports Are a Waste of Time

For the past 20 years, you’ve had a choice:

  • Approve spend before it happens, and slow down the purchasing process
  • Approve spend after it happens, and try to manage expenses after the fact

Ditch expense reports forever

Instead of processing reports, your finance team could be sharing budgets and managing spend in real time.

Most of you try to split this down the middle. You approve spend before it happens on major purchases using purchase orders. You manage spend after the fact on smaller purchases with expense policies and reimbursements.

These smaller purchases often happen on your teams’ personal cards, or on shared corporate cards. As a result - these expenses are either unknown to you, or do not give you enough information to meet tax and audit standards. The solution - make everyone fill out detailed expense reports.

This “after-the-fact” process of tracking expenses has not changed much in the past 20 years. The only recent development is that you can do most of it in a single expense management platform.

But this approach has major flaws that finance teams have put up with, and normalized, for years.

There’s a better way

Expense reports exist to fill data gaps. This data gap exists because your team buys things with personal cards, or bank issued corporate cards.

To eliminate the use of personal cards, you need to grant access to corporate cards. But bank issued corporate cards have always been limited by terrible software. For every card you issue, you increase the risk of overspend because you can’t actually set limits. You end up limiting corporate cards to your budget owners, which forces you to use expense reports anyway to sort out who spent what.

With modern software-enabled corporate cards, you don’t need to compromise.

Software-enabled corporate cards are easy to deploy company-wide. Most solutions allow you to set limits by team, card, and expense category. Some allow you to create spend policies that are enforced before a transaction clears. This universal card strategy, and instant application of limits and policies solves every single problem you face with traditional expense report based processes.

The bigger picture


If you’re looking to get control of your business expenses, ignore every card the banks try to sell you on Nerdwallet and The Points Guy. 1% cash back doesn’t make up for the time wasted chasing expense reports, and the inability to manage budgets. Take a look at a tech-enabled corporate card instead. Lola.com offers a solution that gives everyone visibility and control over spending, automatically keeps teams on budget, and eliminates expense reports, enabling the finance department to spend less time on manual work.

About the Author: Sagar Velagala
Sagar is the Director of Growth at Lola.com. Before this, he worked in analytics, finance, and operations roles at companies like The Boston Beer Company and HubSpot.