Best Expense Management Software in Australia for 2023
Companies throughout Australia are recognising the inefficiencies of manual expense reporting and are increasingly pivoting towards digital solutions. Business expense management systems have emerged as a game-changer, streamlining processes and improving spending analytics for SMEs and large corporations alike. This guide delves into the best expense management software in Australia, shedding light on the key features and investigating the benefits and drawbacks of five major providers.
Australia’s Best Rated Expense Management System
Definition: What Is Actually a Business Expense Management Software?
Expense management software is a digital solution designed to centralise and streamline the processes associated with tracking, reporting, and controlling employee-related expenses.
In traditional business setups, expense management often involved manual processes, such as collecting paper receipts, filling out reimbursement forms, and manually entering data into spreadsheets. These methods are time-consuming, prone to errors, and lack real-time visibility. With online expense management software, companies can improve their management of employee spend in a number of different ways.
Key Features of Expense Management Solutions
Spend management software is packed with a range of features designed to simplify, automate, and enhance the process of tracking and managing employee expenses. Here are some of the standout features that are available on most business expense management software:
Seamless Expense Reporting
Modern expense report software allows users to instantly submit expenses. It’s easy to take a snap of receipts and the mobile app should be intuitive and user-friendly.
Real-time Expense Tracking
ce managers and business owners can access a live view of all employee expenses as they occur, eliminating the need to wait for periodic reports. Ensuring anomalies or trends can be spotted sooner.
With automated workflows, businesses can set up approval processes that ensure all expenses comply with company policies. This reduces manual oversight and speeds up the approval process.
Advanced Data Analytics and Reporting
Beyond just tracking expenses, the best software solutions offer insights. They can generate detailed reports, categorising employee spend and providing analytics on spending patterns. Some may even offer predictive insights to help businesses plan better and benchmark spending against industry standards, showing firms where they might be overpaying in certain areas.
Integrated Employee Expense Card Management
Some software solutions offer integrated card management solutions, allowing businesses to issue employee expense cards. These cards can have custom spending limits per employee, transactions are automatically logged in the software, and in some instances, you can even assign the type of items/services that certain members can purchase through their company card.
Easy Employee Management and Expense Approval Process
Managers can easily order new cards, set spending capabilities and approve or reject expenses on the go, ensuring smooth operations.
Digital Audit Trails
For businesses that need to maintain strict financial records for compliance or auditing purposes, a digital audit trail is invaluable. Every transaction, approval, or modification is logged, ensuring a transparent and traceable record of all expense-related activities.
Compatibility with Accounting Software
The best expense management platforms can seamlessly integrate with a number of accounting tools, such as Xero, Quickbooks and MYOB. This ensures that all financial data is synchronised and fed live.
Deciphering the functionality which is most important to your business will aid in the selection of the most suitable expense management software.
Note that solutions like Brex which does all of the above with a substantial cashback offer are not available in Australia so we haven’t included that as a function.
How to Select the Best Expense Management Software for Your Business
Step 1: Initial Assessment
Before looking at the plethora of expense management solutions on the market, first examine and understand your business’s unique expense operations. This could include your current expense process, approval workflows, and tracking procedures.
Consider some of the following questions
- Where are the current inefficiencies in the process?
- What policies do you have or want to establish around employee spending?
- Does the software need to include a travel booking system?
- Do you need employee expense cards or just spend management software? If cards are required, is it important to have a credit limit or are prepaid cards sufficient?
- What insights could be most helpful through expense report software?
- What accounting software needs to be integrated?
Step 2: Broaden Your Search
Once you’ve taken stock of your requirements, familiarising yourself with the diverse software options available can help you make an informed decision.
Aim to compile a list of potential software solutions. The ideal software should simplify the process for all users – from the employee submitting an expense to the finance team overseeing the budget.
Step 3: Narrow Down Your Options
After a review of the software on your initial list, refine your choices based on your exact requirements and budgetary constraints.
Step 4: Seek Out a Demonstration
Leading software providers will most certainly provide demonstrations of their online expense management tools. Make the most of your time and pose specific questions about the features most relevant to your business needs, whether that’s implementing spend controls, report generation, or expense claiming processes.
Step 5: Final Selection
Consider who needs to be involved before you finalise a decision. The software will likely have to work for a number of parties, including business owners, the finance department and staff on the ground. Involve all of them for insights into the software’s usability and relevance.
Once you’ve made a choice, remember that an implementation plan is critical too. How hands-on is the provider with software implementation and will they provide assistance with account software integration if required?
Pros and Cons of Expense Management Systems
Business expense management is an area where automation generally always helps, but that’s not to say there aren’t things that can go wrong and potential drawbacks to consider. Being aware of the potential disadvantages before you encounter them will ensure your business can make the most out of the software.
What are the Benefits of Expense Management Software?
Streamlined Expense Tracking and Reimbursement
Expense management software automates the process of tracking how employees are spending, categorising their spending, and quickly reimbursing them for any costs they expense. All from one simple click of a receipt or an easy-to-use application.
Manual processes, like paper reports and spreadsheets, are generally highly inefficient. Automated expense reporting software streamlines operations and removes the need for many manual tasks.
Research indicates that processing a single expense report manually can be three times the cost of an automated solution. By automating the expense management process, businesses can significantly reduce these costs, leading to substantial savings in the long run. Some providers, like Cape, will even benchmark company spending against industry averages.
Enhanced Financial Insight and Control
Expense management software provides businesses with advanced analytics, offering deeper insights into the organisation’s financial health. This allows companies to identify patterns which could lead to cost-saving opportunities or controlling excessive spending before it happens.
Reduced Errors and Fraud
Manual expense management processes can be prone to errors and even fraudulent activities. Expense management software reduces these risks by automating the verification and approval of expense reports. This ensures that only valid expenses are reimbursed, protecting the company’s financial resources
Incorporating these benefits, expense management software transforms the traditionally tedious task of managing expenses into a streamlined, efficient, and transparent process. As businesses grow and evolve, having a robust expense management system becomes not just beneficial but essential.
What are the Drawbacks of Expense Management Software?
Risks Associated with Online Systems
While online expense management software offers ease of access and minimal manual intervention, it also comes with certain risks. Data breaches, unauthorised access, and other cybersecurity threats can compromise sensitive financial data.
Potential for Errors
Despite automation, there’s still a possibility of errors in business expense management software. Incorrect configurations or misinterpretation of data can lead to financial discrepancies.
Integration Challenges and Learning Curve
While some expense management software can be integrated with other systems, there might be challenges in ensuring seamless connectivity. What’s more, new software will require training for employees to understand and use the system effectively. This could lead to initial resistance and teething issues.
Still Potential for Fraudulent Activities
Even with software in place, there’s still a risk of fraudulent expense claims. It’s essential to have checks and balances to detect and prevent such activities.
To minimise the chance of encountering difficulties, it’s important to choose the right software, provide adequate training to staff, and implement the right policies with regular check-ups.
Top 5 Online Expense Management Software – Reviews
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Cape is a high-growth, Australian-founded fintech that’s fast gaining favour amongst SMEs and is also rated as our #1 best business card as well as the one of the best business bank account alternatives. It provides one secure place to manage every cent, card, and colleague in your business.
The solution is totally built around simplicity and Cape makes it easy to get going in four simple steps:
- Build your policies & set spend controls
- Issue cards to your team & spend
- Automate receipt capture
- Reconcile accounts in a click
Employee expense cards can be generated in a few clicks, virtual and physical cards are available, and spend controls are totally customisable. Not only can you set employee limits but you can also assign payment capabilities by category, limiting the items & services that users can buy.
Its expense tracking software provides a real-time view of employee spend, feeds seamlessly into accounting software like Xero, and allows you to prevent overspend before it happens. Opt for a personalised package and Cape’s software will even benchmark your spending against industry averages, allowing you to identify wasteful spending and savings opportunities.
Cape’s expense reporting software provides detailed insights into company-wide spend through a straightforward dashboard. It’s easy to set user permissions for other team members to view spend analytics and see how purchases will impact a budget, all before they make a payment.
All-in-all, Cape has one of the most complete solutions in Australia today. It’s the only one we can see that combines a credit limit for business cards, alongside advanced expense tracking software. Plus, it’s also the only provider to offer zero FX fees, making it ideal for SaaS subscriptions (often charged in USD) and international travel.
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Like Cape, Navan offers a comprehensive solution for business, focusing on expense management and employee cards. Their platform also provides real-time visibility, helping to drive savings, and enhance productivity.
Navan’s system is also designed to totally automate the entire expense management process, from the moment a purchase is made to its reconciliation. Navan cards are activated only during business trips, simplifying payments and ensuring compliance with company policies. Employee expense cards have similar proactive spend controls, meaning out-of-policy expenditures can be blocked at the point of sale.
One crucial difference with Navan is that they do now allow cards to have a credit limit. Only prepaid cards are available. What’s more, Navan is less transparent about their fee structure and, unlike Cape, they do not advertise zero FX fees.
Where Navan is stronger than Cape is in the area of travel booking. Navan’s travel solution provides an inventory of trip options for both flights and hotels, offering easy booking and discounted rates.
In summary, Navan is a holistic platform designed to streamline business expenses and travel management, but it has a weaker employee card offering.
SAP Concur Australia Review
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SAP Concur is another comprehensive business expense management system designed to optimise business expenses and budget management.
Concur Expense automates the employee spend process, capturing payments from various sources, enabling faster reimbursements, and automated reporting. It provides a unified view of all expense data, allowing businesses to easily enforce spending policies and automatically process receipts and reports.
The Concur Triplink feature connects trips, travellers, and itineraries across different channels, granting travel managers the visibility they need to control spending and ensure traveller safety. Consolidating trip data from multiple sources, it ensures travel managers have a complete view of spending.
Lastly, their budget management tool, simply named Budget, offers businesses a consolidated view of their spending, enabling them to make informed decisions. It captures and consolidates data from all SAP Concur solutions, providing near real-time visibility of spend against the set budget.
In essence, SAP Concur provides a holistic approach to managing business expenses, travel, and budgets. It does not provide an employee expense card solution and is arguably best suited to large enterprises that have various pieces of software that they need to connect with SAP.
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Expensify is a 2008-founded, USA-headquartered expense management and employee card company. Much like the other providers, Expensify seeks to simplify and automate the process of tracking, reporting, and reimbursing business expenses. It was an early adopter of receipt-scanning technology, as Expensify’s SmartScan revolutionised receipt tracking by allowing people to take a photo of any receipt — no matter the currency or level of scribbliness of the tip — for automatic transcription.
Where Expensify really differentiates itself is with its corporate card program. They take a unique approach to how they assess your credit limit, which is based on a number of factors like your tenure as a customer, your business financials, and the available cash in your account. Businesses that struggle to access credit may receive a higher limit through Expensify. However, the limit is primarily based on the cash in your account and does fluctuate each day, so it can be difficult to plan for the future. In fact, because of this, the Expensify card seems to be much more akin to a debit card, where you simply spend the money in your account. This is why we think Cape’s more traditional approach to assign a hard credit limit to your account is preferable.
Expensify’s card program offers some of the best cashback possibilities on the market, but card billing has to be done in either USD, GBP or EUR. Whilst no FX fees are added, you’ll be losing a small amount to Visa on the currency exchange of each transaction.
In summary, it seems that whilst Expensify is a viable option in Australia, it’s a more optimal solution in the US.
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Budgetly is a 2020-founded Australian prepaid corporate card provider that takes the pain out of expense management, for everyone involved.
Financial controllers can use the Budgetly web application to eliminate time-consuming admin work and manage the entire expense process, all while empowering on-the-ground staff to easily access funds and pay for the things they need to do their jobs well.
Like all of the other providers, spending rules can be specifically assigned, ensuring controlled spending across individuals, teams, and departments. Employees can also capture receipts instantly on their mobile devices, reducing the time spent on manual reimbursements and offering real-time spending tracking.
Customers can automatically synchronise their Budgetly transactions with Xero, but other accounting software requires a manual download and upload of a CSV file.
When you add in the fact that only prepaid cards are available, and you can’t apply for a credit limit, it’s why we prefer the added flexibility provided by Cape.
Last Word on Expense Management Solutions
Expense management software is fast growing in popularity among Australian SMEs. As businesses grow, manual processes become unmanageable and business expense management systems become a necessity.
All of the platforms we have reviewed here offer a centralised system to capture, categorise, and monitor various types of expenses. In addition to this, some of the all-in-one systems incorporate employee expense cards and travel booking. Choosing the best software for your business will depend on your unique needs, from the size of your organisation, through to specific functionalities required. Ensure the chosen software aligns with your objectives and budget.