'I Finally Have Real-Time Visibility Into Travel Spend'By Mike Baker
How Flywheel uses Lola.com + Expensify to streamline T&E reporting
There’s no way to sugar coat it: tracking and reporting on T&E expenses used to be a nightmare at Flywheel. Steve Isom, the company’s VP of Finance, remembers the bad old days when traveling employees would simply drop off piles of unsorted paper receipts and assume that the finance department would properly organize, verify and reimburse each and every one.
“When we had folks booking their own travel, they would literally print out the receipts and they would drop it on the accounting manager’s desk,” Steve remembers unfondly. “They wouldn’t write what the trip was, they wouldn’t write anything.”
Obviously, this created a lot of extra work for the finance team.
“Each month, from a financial perspective, the accounting manager was having to go through and code each of those expenses,” Steve added.
But extra manual work for the accounting team was just the beginning of the problem. Steve quickly realized that Flywheel’s “Wild West” approach to T&E expenses was causing an even more serious complication: it made it impossible to know how much the company was spending on corporate travel, and who was spending it.
Steve knew he needed a better way to manage expenses and corporate travel. Ideally he would find a solution that streamlined both aspects of this process: software that could allow employees to book travel and expense that travel automatically.
That’s when he heard about the corporate travel management platform Lola.com and its integration with Expensify.
‘Real-time visibility into travel spend’
It didn’t take long for Steve to realize that the combination of Lola and Expensify would help him streamline Flywheel’s entire T&E reporting process – and provide an easy way for him to track travel spend and keep it under budget.
“Because Lola integrates with Expensify, what we’re able to do is just accurately code all travel expenses immediately,” Steve said. “Now everything auto-populates into Expensify and employees who have the most context about what the expenses are can add the first level of categorization. And then it goes to the finance team for approval.”
Because travel expenses are sent directly to the finance team, with the appropriate context and categories added, it is much easier for the company to know exactly where it stands in relation to its travel budget. And instead of having to sift through various spreadsheets and piles of paper receipts, the finance team now has a single point of truth for travel spend.
“All of the data is one place for me so I have complete visibility into the spend,” he added.
‘Meeting all of our needs from a financial perspective’
With Lola + Expensify in action, Steve has seen a total transformation of Flywheel’s T&E expense process. The accounting team is saving time because they no longer have to sort through piles of context-less receipts. And the finance team has much more visibility into travel spend and where the company stands against its budget.
They’ve come a long way from paper receipts and finger-in-the-wind travel spend forecasting.
“I honestly don’t know what I’d do without Lola and Expensify,” Steve concluded.