If you'd rather schedule a root canal with your dentist than field a stack of expense reports from your employees, you're not alone. Most business owners and managers disdain paperwork as a whole but reserve a special dose of dread for expense reports. These seemingly simple documents inspire suspicion, confusion, and frustration across the business sector. Outdated and Inefficient: A Recipe for Disaster
Ledgers, envelopes, and calculators — they're hardly 21st-century tools. Expense reports often involve outdated and archaic systems that require more man hours and leave generous opportunities for human error. Unfortunately, even modern expense-reporting systems don't rise to the level of high tech. The added corporate paperwork is likewise a common frustration. Limited and Unscalable: A Barrier to Growth
Most business owners hope to scale their firms
. They want to expand their market reach, add new products to their lineups, and hire new employees. However, traditional expense reports don't lend themselves to expansion. As you add more workers who need to spend money, you start drowning in paperwork. Instead of buying a supersized paper-shredder, consider alternatives to expense reports. Risky and Disorganized: A Potential Loss of Money
Do you keep shoeboxes full of cash in every room of your home? Probably not. However, that's essentially the strategy that businesses use for petty cash
. Not only does it open the door to theft, but it also makes tracking the cash impossible across departments. Money goes missing due to crime or human error, and by the time someone notices, there's no way to track the missing cash. Unregulated and Ineffective: A Catalyst for Cash Flow Issues
If there's one thing employers hate more than expense reports, it's surprises — the bad kind, at least. Unfortunately, these two frustrations often go hand-in-hand. When the end of the month arrives and you discover that your employees spent three times the amount you forecasted, you're forced into damage-control mode. It's never a pleasant experience.
The alternative in traditional systems, however, is just as grim. If you force your workers to have expenses authorized every time they take a client out to lunch or pick up a delivery, they'll resent the extra step or it might hold them back from spending well for your business just to avoid the hassle. Dangerous and Vulnerable: A Potential for Great Loss
Some employers get so frustrated with expense reports that they compensate with dangerous solutions. They give employees access to their bank accounts or issue individual corporate credit cards. Surely, your dedicated workers would never charge a boat to the company's accounts — but the potential is there.
If you can identify with these frustrations surrounding expense reports, take comfort in the knowledge that alternatives exist. Using prepaid expense cards
allows you to control the amount of money your employees spend and to eliminate expense reports from your to-do list. Employees can spend money with controls, so you don't have to worry about them charging a vacation to Tahiti on the company dime. Plus, everyone will have more time to focus on customer retention, product development, and other activities that further the business's goals.