Archives For April 2009

Today I did my first real expense report with Expensify. I know, I know, I’ve been doing them all along, here and there. But there’s a huge difference between “testing” and “using.” Having really “used” it for the first time, I have to say, I’m really quite proud of what we’ve built. This thing really works, really well.

Basically, I’m as lazy as anybody else. I put things off. I buy things with a few different cards, am undisciplined with email and paper receipts, pay cash unnecessarily. I’m as bad as anybody else. But having just processed about six months of backlogged expenses, I’ve learned a few lessons:

  • Get a dedicated purchase card. I know I’ve been preaching it from the start, but seriously. Do it. I mean, I have one (two, actually: Work and Play, both backed by my regular credit card), and I’ve been using it only for business purchase. But I’ve mistakenly been making both reimbursable and non-reimbursable expenses with the same card. Bad call. Here on out, my Work card is exclusively for reimbursable work expenses. I’m a reformed man.
  • Expensify Guaranteed eReceipts are frickin’ amazing. I mean, I never, ever keep paper receipts anymore. I don’t even think of them. It’s like that entire pain point has just gone away. It’s one thing to tell people about it. But it’s another thing entirely to actually feel it.
  • Email receipts work amazingly well. Just forward them to receipts@expensify.com and they’re stored serverside as PDF images, and then drag them onto the corresponding expense to associate.
  • Use the SMS text interface for taxis. Being a proud car-less San Franciscan, I take a lot of taxis. I usually pay cash. So I always send Expensify a text message when I get out, something like “$5 – taxi to meeting with blah”. Man, this is a lifesaver. I’d have never remembered all of those, and despite a big stack of blank taxi receipts in my pocket, I’d never know how much I should get reimbursed.
  • Online reimbursement is soooo handy. I love having a permanent record of exactly who was paid what, with the ability to dig in and see exactly what was paid for.

Basically, all that stuff I’m out promising people — I always knew it was true, but now I *feel* it. I know it’s true, and it really is quite amazing.

That said, there’s a long way to go. I’m incredibly happy with where Expensify is now. But it’s clear there are a lot of ways we can do even better:

  • Better sorting and filtering. When I sat down to get started, I have over a thousand individual purchases to sift through, combining work expenses imported off my Work card (both reimbursable and non-reimbursable, arrg!), personal and work expenses on my personal credit card, and a bunch of other random purchases pulled in from my fiancĂ©e due to our joint account. Thats a whole lot of needles in a pretty huge haystack. Overall, even with today’s functionality, it was pretty easy. But I can see a lot of ways to make it easier still.
  • Better archiving of non-reimbursable expenses. An oft-requested feature is the ability to just save a report for future reference. You can sorta do that today by submitting it to yourself, but it’s really a bit of a pain. Some “Save report” function would be handy.
  • Better report management. I’ve got a ton of reports to myself, to others, and a bunch in there just for testing — and it can get confusing fast. Some kind of multi-report analytics would be super helpful.
  • Better note taking. I’ve been renting a lot of Zipcars recently, and they all just show up with an anonymous “Zipcar” merchant name — without any hint of where I went or why. But in there was one time I rented it for personal reasons. Trying to sort out which was the personal one was a huge pain. We should have some way to add comments to expenses using SMS — even non-cash expenses — so you can make these notes as you go.

And of course a million more small things. I have countless ideas how to improve it further, to get ever closer to the holy grail of “one click expense report” for all users in all scenarios.

But even right now, in its current state, it’s pretty amazing. Give it a shot and I think you’ll agree. (And if you don’t, please, please write dbarrett@expensify.com and tell me why.)

Expensify truly does expense reports that don’t suck. Whew.