Ultimate guide: Zero-cost expense management for startups

Zero Cost Accounting- BillsPls

Startups need to keep track of their financial standing, consistently. Dealing with the cash flows in and out, things ought to be streamlined and regularized from the very first moment. This starts with employee expenses management which is often claimed to be the second biggest controllable expense in any organization. This includes the fraud activities as well which alone is contributing to 24% of the total cost getting only the valid expenses of the employees reimbursed.

With the advancements in technology, today, taking all the productive time wasted towards and efforts invested in, the expense of manually handling an expense report remains at 58 USD and takes 20 minutes to make one such report.

This blog won’t be a just-another blog around expense management, we need to understand the entire journey of expenses management before coming up with a complete yet affordable solution for the same.  By and large, expense management is all about how well the expenses spent after proper approvals, are reimbursed without any hassles.

This blog is focused on those bootstrapping start-ups that are having a crucial timeline to break-even with the least burn-rate possible.

Difficulties faced by Employees

  • Need to save the receipt of every business purchase and travel expenses
  • Need to store receipts – locally on any device or cloud
  • Spends hours of productive time sorting out expenses based on date, location, and expense category.
  • Create report, mail, get approval, correct violations, mail-back & get reimbursed

Difficulties faced by Companies/Startups

  • Entry mismatch – Validate every expense entry fed in by the employee for reimbursement against the copy of the receipt
  • Duplicate receipts – Also need to look for duplicate entries in the report submitted by the employee
  • Wrong claims – Claims that are not with proper approvals and intentional or unintentional misinterpretation of receipt categories
  • Fraudulent claims – There are a variety of ways people do frauds such as exploiting the tax-free nature of reimbursement amount, claiming pre-approved but unspent expenses, etc.

But the good news for everyone is, all these difficulties can either fully or partially be addressed by a combination of freely available tools on board.

Free Apps for Expenses Management

Wave Accounting

An accounting application for your accounts payable department which also covers the entire accounts payable operations apart from the expense management. This is a free web app with no hidden cost or maintenance fee.

HR.my

For the payroll management and other HR-related functionalities, we would suggest using the crowdsourced free-forever software HR.my which covers up all the business necessities like a charm. Few changes in the flow may have to be adjusted accordingly to make the process seamless. Being free software, a full-time payroll expert or an HR expert would be required to get the job done.

BillsPls Expenses Manager

Having the difficulties of the Accounts Payable department covered, employees to have got one amazing application right on their mobile devices called BillsPls Expenses manager from IN-D by Intain.

This application is free of cost and it is so forever. The salesperson can now just click a picture of the receipts on-the-go and BillsPls takes care of the rest. It will automatically extract the data attributes like total, date, and vendor name, automatically categories the receipts by food, travel, stay, etc., and even detect the currency in the Bill.

The employee can get a spending pattern report for analyzing monthly expenditure which shows all the values converted to one single currency. If the bill is an e-receipt, no issues. Just get a screenshot and upload it from the gallery. The application will process and populate the entries respectively on the fields in the expense entry also attaching the screenshot next to it. Employees can export their expenses as PDFs or Excel sheets which can be shared with the accounts payable department for reimbursement.

Duplicate entries will be marked on the PDF exported to notify the AP team about a possible fraud attempt. Duplication can also happen when the same goods or services are purchased or availed on the same day at the same quantity multiple times. Considering this possibility, it would not be great to remove duplicates by no order.

For enterprise solutions, we do have plug and play solutions for your existing workflow. You can opt for that anytime in the future as per your requirement.

To conclude

There are always free options available on the internet for every possible solution. Paid software always enables the user to get a seamless connected complete solution for the business which also can be achieved in the free environment but with a need to take that extra mile to get the solutions integrated for a seamless experience. The above software can work together with each other provided a business process and rules are set up in the organization. Maintaining a proper rulebook for every department from day one is a best practice advised extensively to the startups that are bootstrapping.