AutomateExpense reports are integral to a functioning business. But, processing a single expense report manually costs a business about , according to 2015 data compiled by PayStream Advisors. That adds up fast, especially considering there is a more cost-effective alternative. A fully automated expense management process lowers the average processing cost to per report.

If you’re not among the 37 percent of small and medium enterprises that have adopted an automated process for expense reporting, it’s time for a change. Here’s a look at why automation is important to the future of your business and bottom line:

Automation means less manual data entry. Archaic expense management systems require manual data entry and can increase the chance of human error. Manual expense reporting can also take valuable time from your star players who should be focused on making sales calls and not on managing receipts.

An app, such as Connect to QuickBooks®, can lighten the load. Use the app to tether employees’ Business Cards from American Express OPEN to your QuickBooks accounting software. This powerful duo virtually eliminates manual data entry by automatically sending transaction data directly to your accounting software, categorizing your expenses and saving you time.

Automation increases on-time submissions. Employees are prone to put off expensing as long as possible, just to avoid the headaches involved with manual and unclear processes. This procrastination can lead to errors and lost receipts as time passes, and in the end, a business is left with a billing mess when trying to match expense reports with client accounts. Automating expense management, however, can lighten the burden. The easier and more defined it is for employees to follow the process, the more likely they are to do so.

Automation streamlines the process. Adding one more process to the office line up is often a necessary evil that few like. But, failing to define your expense reporting process can also affect an employee’s motivation to actually file them. Instead of developing a reporting process on paper, employ software or an online system to streamline the process. Create a sense of urgency with clearly defined deadlines for reporting, tips on how to file an expense report and guidance on what types of charges are acceptable.

Automation helps reduce workplace fraud. Workplace fraud isn’t always intentional. Sometimes, it’s due to poor expense management.

When employees don’t have a streamlined process in place, guesswork takes precedence over facts and receipts. Lower the odds of accidental fraud by investing in an expense reporting system that makes it a fail-proof process with clearly defined rules.

To start, your expense reporting system should be able to import transactions directly from your employees’ credit cards. Managers can also set some guidelines, such as discouraging the use of cash or explaining the proper protocol for receipt capture.

Expense management is part of running a business, but with an automated process in place, it doesn’t have to be a tedious or expensive task. Technology is being developed every day with the modern business owner’s needs in mind. With the right due diligence, you can find the right applications to meet your expense management needs.

Editor’s Note: Check out a new infographic, Automation Improves Expense Management.

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