How to simplify your expense processing

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The problem with expense processing

What if there was a way to drastically cut down time spent on expense processes, keep your employees happy, and free yourself up so you can focus on other critical tasks?

You can’t run a business without developing a love (or maybe more of a tolerance) of spreadsheets.

But when it comes to processing employee expenses, there’s a good chance that your patience is being severely tested, probably on a daily basis. These manual processes are leaving business owners frustrated. Surely there’s a better way?

expense processing payments
expense processing payments
expense processing bookkeeping

Out with the old

Over the last couple of decades, technology has reshaped the workplace. But while tasks like maintaining your company’s general ledger and preparing a profit-and-loss account are arguably less time-consuming and relatively easier to do these days, expense processing is still stuck in the 1990s.

It’s a tedious and time-consuming task that can lead to a lot of headaches for employees and management alike. Here’s a look at a typical company’s expense process and what can go wrong at each stage.

expense processing bookkeeping

Manual Step 1: The employee makes a purchase and collects the receipt

Spending money is easy, but that doesn’t mean mistakes can’t be made in the ensuing admin. In particular, employees may:

  • Forget to take a receipt
  • Misplace it
  • Pay for business-related expenses and personal items together

Any of these issues will create record-keeping problems and, potentially, disagreements with employees who will expect to be reimbursed despite the issues in their paperwork. And if receipts do go missing, reconciliation can become tricky, with outgoings proving impossible to trace.

For example, say you have an employee who goes away on an overnight business trip. They couldn’t use the business credit card because it was with another colleague, so they’ve paid for their meals and accommodation with personal funds and need to be reimbursed.

They keep their receipts from the various transactions, but in the course of the trip, one or two of them accidentally get binned. Now finance teams are missing necessary paperwork.

Keeping a collection of paper receipts is surely no way to do business.

expense processing receipts
expense processing receipts
expense processing reports

Manual Step 2: Employee creates expense report

Even Buzz Aldrin had to prepare an expense report after he went to the moon.

But while the process is necessary, it doesn’t make it any less tedious. In one survey, 43% of employees said they’d pick commuting an extra hour a day over preparing an expense report. And 53% would rather do their taxes.

The upshot is that an expense report may take a while to get finalised, which will make the whole process more difficult. As accountant turned money mentor Gail Bainbridge notes: “When I worked as an accountant, people sending expense claims at the last minute was my biggest frustration.”

Late submissions mean finance teams may have to make reconciliations and re-balance the books several months after the fact. Manual processes are also prone to human error, and individuals may not discover a mistake until after a payment has been processed.

Maybe the employee who needs reimbursing for their trip has filled in their report incorrectly, leading to confusion as to what has actually been spent. This slows down an already lengthy process and adds another task onto the list.

expense processing reports

Manual Step 3: Manager approval process

Sometimes expense reports have to go before multiple people for approvals, which is another time consuming and error-laden process.

Busy managers may also miss important details or not be clued up about the finer points of the company’s expense policy. As a result, they may overlook errors or mistakenly approve expenses the company doesn’t allow. The employee’s error may go unnoticed, and then it simply becomes compounded, creating a larger problem.

This means backtracking on a report and perhaps even starting the process all over again, which isn’t a good use of anyone’s time.

expese processing accounting
expese processing accounting
Finance team considering debt products

Manual Step 4: Auditing and reconciliation

Once an expense report hits the finance team’s desk, they have to go over it line by line and match transactions to receipts. This is both inefficient and creates other challenges.

For starters, employees and managers don’t tend to enjoy preparing and approving expense reports, so they’ll probably submit them in batches. This means teams can quickly get swamped.

More to the point, unless your company uses an accounting system that can automatically import spreadsheet data, someone will have to spend several mind-numbing hours inputting everything manually.

For example, our travelling employee’s expense report may have been corrected and submitted, but so have a huge volume of others, all around the same time. Now the accounts department is faced with a crunch period through no fault of their own.

Finance team considering debt products

Manual Step 5: Payment

The expense report has been approved, but how will the employee be reimbursed?

The company could:

  • Make a one-off instant business account transfer or cash payment
  • Run the expense through payroll
  • Set up your employee as supplier

All three options require extra admin and come with their own set of problems.

Case in point, payroll isn’t designed for running expenses. It may delay reimbursement even more. Plus, how will it get itemised on the payslip?

Similarly, you can only make bank transfers or cash payments manually. And setting up an employee as a supplier could skew your data.

expense processing tracking
expense processing tracking

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Automate your expense reporting

Spreadsheets, multiple rounds of approvals, and manual data input may have made sense 20, or even 10 years ago.

But, clearly, this process isn’t fit for purpose anymore. It’s laborious, time-consuming, and frustrating for everyone involved: the employee claiming expenses, the manager who has to approve the report, and the finance team who has to reconcile everything.

Thankfully, this is no longer necessary. An automated expense management platform like Soldo can:

  • Streamline the process
  • Remove the need for multiple approvals
  • Slash admin
  • Cut the risk of mistakes

Here’s what this would look like:

expense processing analysis

Step 2: Snap a photo of the receipt

No more boxes full of crumpled receipts or hours wrestling with Excel. Once the employee pays, they launch the app, snap a photo of the receipt, and link it to the transaction. Job done.

expense processing mobile app
expense processing mobile app
expense processing prepaid cards

Step 3: Reconciliation

Admins can log on to the dashboard and see expenses across the company at a glance. This includes the highest spending card, most prolific spend-categories, and real-time transactions.

Soldo offers a comprehensive view of your company finances that not only increases visibility, but also gives you the information to make confident and data-led spending decisions.

Soldo integrates with accounting software like Xero and QuickBooks, so it can import data automatically to the accounting software without the labour of manual statement imports.

expense processing prepaid cards

Pain-free expense processing with Soldo

Processing expenses is one of the necessities of business, but it doesn’t have to be frustrating or burdensome.

Using an automated spend and expense management platform can cut it down from six or more steps to just three.

Soldo can grant employees greater freedom whilst giving increased control and visibility to managers. Our system is designed with businesses in mind, so we’ve made every step in the expense management process as simple as possible.

With no need for a credit check, you can sign up to Soldo in no time at all, and you could be up and running the very same day. Say goodbye to manual expense processing, put the process on autopilot and use your newfound freedom to work on growing your business.

expense processing analytics
expense processing analytics

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“When we switched to Soldo, it became obvious that it was quicker and more efficient. There’s a greater feeling of security; we have more confidence in Soldo than the traditional corporate credit cards.”

Mark Taylor, Plymouth College of Art
Director of Finance at Plymouth College of Art

“Petty cash and reconciling credit cards took a total of 6 days a month. Now it takes me half a day. It’s saving us time! It’s got great flexibility and it makes my life a lot easier”

Sandra Curran, Making Space
Purchase Ledger Coordinator at Making Space

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