If you use a paper-based or other clunky system to manage purchase requests and invoices, the service could potentially save you labor costs by automating these processes. It could also save you money with its auditing tools, giving new perspectives on where you can cut back budgets. These tools are standard at large companies, but ExpenseWatch could put your smaller outfit on equal footing.
ExpenseWatch is broken into monthly user licenses for each of its three tools: travel and entertainment, purchasing, and invoice management. You'll essentially need a license for each concurrent user, such as the number of people typically traveling at once for the first or one per department manager for purchasing. Each travel and entertainment license costs $16 while the other two types cost $31 each. (A free trial is also available.)
The travel and entertainment tool lets employees on the road directly input costs as they happen. You'll be able to set up automatic parameters for approval--such as a dinner-with-clients cost up to $35/person--or manually accept transactions. Then these items can automatically be routed to your accounting department for reimbursement and other bookkeeping. And auditing functions--such as comparing a sales associate's client income with their schmoozing expenses--can help get a bigger perspective on how you spend.
The purchasing tool lets employees make requests for office supplies or bigger items, keeping the same automatic- or manual-approval trail. You can make purchases with several websites, including Dell, CDW, and Office Depot, automatically entering those transactions into your system. Or you can input purchase details manually. Reports detail how much you spend at your biggest suppliers; you could use that data to negotiate for discounts or other perks.
The invoice management tool tracks the budgeting and payment of contract work and other invoices. Like the other two tools, it establishes a workflow and approval process. It documents who approved a contract and invoice, and which budget it comes from. Invoices that were made with the purchasing tool automatically include that backstory, but unrelated invoices can also be added. And many parameters, such as budget limits, can help you keep track of these costs.
If your company is growing and spending more, these expense and auditing tools can be especially useful. Maybe you've added new employees who need to make purchases or have bigger budgets; you'll make sure that the business doesn't become wasteful. Or if you're facing leaner times, you might use the tools to streamline your approval process and point out places to cut back. In either situation--or a combination of both--ExpenseWatch could be just what you need to keep a business thriving.
Zack Stern is a freelance writer and editor based in San Francisco.