As part of the Webucator Tips series, we’re excited to share this power tip to current QuickBooks students. Read, share, and drop some knowledge!

When we first meet a potential Expensify user, the first thing we typically ask is, “How do you do your expense reports?” and “What accounting software do you use?”

Okay, so that’s actually two questions, but it’s hard to ask the first question without following up with the second. If you’ve ever had a hand in either, it’s easy to guess that expense reporting and accounting are intricately linked.

Companies use QuickBooks or similar accounting software to track employee expenses and reimburse them, along with their salary, directly from QuickBooks. But with QuickBooks’ less-than-intuitive functionality, it takes time to set up an expense reporting system in the software, and users typically end up entering each expense in manually by typing them up one by one. Do yourself a solid and avoid all that nonsense by integrating Expensify into your QuickBooks accounting! With tons of customization options, bi-directional integration, and flexible policies, you’ll be glad you did.

Customize, Customize, Customize!

Customization

These jeans aren’t for everyone…

Every company has different needs, and that’s why we’re so big on customization. Once users finished compiling an expense report, they can also customize the way a report is exported. For example, reimbursable expenses can be exported automatically as a check and non-reimbursable expenses as a credit card bill. You can take it a step further by customizing the integration if you have needs outside our traditional export method.

Bi-Directional Integration

Bi-directional integration between QBO and Expensify means that you can pull and push all sorts of valuable information from QBO. Sync categories, tags, report fields, and more to make sure everyone is on the same page. Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Flexible Policies

With categories, tags, and other data fields, you have the flexibility to customize your expense report policies for different groups of employees. Create and set any number of rules to any one group and adjust exposure to each policy as needed.

Power Up Your Accounting Capabilities

QuickBooks can be a powerful tool if you know how to use it. In the name of saving time and to avoid any hair pulling, do yourself a favor by integrating your QuickBooks Online with Expensify today. Take it from this guy, it’s worth it.

Need some help with implementation? Feel free to email us at help@expensify.com with your questions!

ToDoList

You don’t need a functional tattoo to stay organized

With so many tools and apps that claim to increase organization or productivity, how do we find out which tools will actually help and not hinder our workflow? At Expensify, our approach is to keep it simple; forget the apps and stick to what’s tried and true. Here are a few core principles that help us stay productive; try them out and let us know what you think!

1) Avoid Complicated Tools.  

Nothing wastes time like “saving time” by adopting complex project management tools. Tools aren’t the problem: people are. Just create a shared to-do list that you re-prioritize continuously, and focus everybody on starting at the top and working their way down. Nobody will ever get to the bottom, but that’s just life.

What you need: Google Docs, whiteboard, IdeaPaint, something that can help you visualize, flexibly.

2) Prioritize, Don’t Schedule.  

Schedules assume stable priorities and accurate estimates, neither of which are ever true. Accordingly, the only way to reliably meet hard commitments is to wildly pad the schedule, which is wasteful and frustrating for everyone. Instead, just accept things will get done when they get done.

Helpful to your success: A company culture that minimizes commitments and focuses on raw productivity on ever-shifting priorities.

3) Trust You’ll Remember the Important Things

all you need to stay organized is a pen and paper

Say hi to your new best friend

Continuing from the last point, nothing is more stress inducing that an enormous list of incomplete tasks that will likely never be finished. Rather, start every day with a blank sheet of paper and write down the most important things you need to get done — only look back at previous days if you run out of ideas (which rarely happens).

What you need: pen and paper, or a marker if you’re feeling fancy.

4) The Productivity Myth

Companies everywhere have somehow bought into the idea that more hours means higher productivity when studies actually show the opposite. Instead, build time in your day, week, life to rest and relax. Decide how much of your life you want to devote to work, work that much, and then stop. Nothing makes your time off more enjoyable than confidence that you’ve done right by your entrepreneurial ambitions and truly earned the rest. This is also a fantastic way to set work/life expectations with your spouse, but even better for resisting the urge to work yourself to death.

What to do: Record how many hours you work a day in a spreadsheet, then add it up on a weekly basis to make sure you’re basically hitting your target.

Tried these out, or have productivity tips of your own? We’d love to hear from you!

Our team is like one big, happy family, so every new hire means welcoming another member to the Expensify family. In July alone, the Expensify team grew a crazy 26%, bringing the total number of full-time employees from 24 people in January to our current number at 45.

Expensify Hiring, Team Update, Announcements

The Breakdown

In the last few weeks, we grew our team by a total of 9 people: 4 in sales, 4 in engineering, and 1 in marketing. In August, we’ll be adding another 4 people who will be working remotely from the Upper Peninsula in Michigan.

Why the sudden ramp up?

Truth be told, we’re pretty picky about who we hire. We extend offers to candidates who can resonate with and thrive in our culture, but who can also get shit done. As a result, we sometimes extend an offer to those who can’t start immediately, and we work with them to figure out an ideal situation for both parties. In other cases, the right person came along at the right time, just as we were thinking about creating a new role. More than that however, we’re flooded with hundreds of inbound leads a day. As a result, we’ve purposefully grown the sales team to meet demand, well, because we need it!

Now, Onward!

Things are changing quickly now that we’re close to the big five-oh. More colleagues means expanding our space, even including a work space inspired by the window counter at Peet’s Coffee. We’ve implemented new software for on boarding new hires. We’re ramping up for our biggest offshore ever in September, but not before a trip up to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan to meet the other half of the team in mid-August.

Most of all, we’re excited to welcome everyone into the family and expose them to San Francisco. From Giants games to local hikes and then some, you can be sure that things will get real cozy, real fast here in the next few months.

Forming Habits with Expense Reporting

Whether you work at a startup, a large corporation, or something in between, the end of the month always means one thing: it’s time to get those expense reports in!

People often consider expense reporting to be a pain in the elbow, and that’s why we’ve made it our mission to make expense reports suck less. Using Expensify can help significantly reduce the overall time it takes to finish a report. Even better, pair it with an incremental behavioral change and you might actually look forward to submitting your expense report every month (we can dream right?).

Putting Off Something That Sucks – Hey, It’s Natural!

Sit back and think for a hot second: how do you file your expense reports?

According to Leo Babauta from ZenHabits, we spend much of our lives avoiding or putting off our problems. People hate doing expense reports because it’s always been a long and tedious process that involves finding crumpled pieces of paper, manually entering a load of expenses and then triple-checking everything to make sure it’s all correct. As a result, you think of expense reporting as a problem that you want to put off for as long as you can.

At Expensify, we want to make those monthly, hours-long expense reporting rituals a thing of the past. We want to change the way you think about and do expense reports. How?

Try It Out: A Small Change in Behavior

Instead of throwing your receipt in your bag or pocket, use our mobile app and take a picture of the receipt when you get it. In doing so, you are accomplishing four things:

  1. You reduce the amount of clutter in your bag or pocket. A photo of your receipt = paper receipt in trash.
  2. You also minimize the risk of losing the receipt down to zero.
  3. You decrease the amount of time it takes to file expense reports by handling your expenses at the time of purchase instead of filing a pile of them at the end of the month.
  4. Your uploaded receipt can be sorted with categories and tags, which helps you organize expenses automatically.

Once you take that photo, our SmartScan technology will transcribe the receipt for you so you don’t have to enter the information manually. More importantly, by taking a picture of your receipt as soon as you get it, you’re creating a behavioral change that will fundamentally alter the way you do expense reports. This tiny change might seem inconsequential, but the power of habit is an incredibly powerful, subconscious phenomenon that can change the way you do expense reports forever. Repeat this action often enough, and you’ll be able to cultivate a strong expense reporting habit.

Take a Photo, Thank Yourself Later

With this small habitual change, a cursory glance over your expense report at the end of the month is all you’ll need to do before submitting it to a manager. No more high volume, last-minute scanning, organizing, or detailing. How amazing does that sound?

Don’t take our word for it. See what users have to say about how Expensify is changing the way they do expense reports:

 

Change the way you think about expense reporting! Let us know your story in the comments below or try us today.

As we continue towards our major realtime expense reporting push, we are continuing to streamline the Expensify product. This started with simplifying our pricing structure and now involves changing the way report submission and approval works for those people using Expensify outside of an expense policy. When users submit reports outside of an expense policy, the reports are now moved to the “closed” state and shared with the person the report was submitted to. The recipient of the report still has the ability to approve the report by moving the report to a policy.

What This Means for Submitters

When you submit an expense report, the report’s status will change from “open” to “closed”.

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 1.40.59 PM

This report will be shared with the person you submitted the report to. As usual, they will get an email letting them know you have submitted this report to them. The Report History will reflect that the report was closed and that it was submitted to your desired recipient.

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 1.42.57 PM

What This Means for Approvers

Approvers who are not members of an expense policy will continue to have the ability to view the reports that are submitted to them within Expensify. If you are a member of an expense policy, you will be able to move the expense report into that policy and approve it.

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 1.45.23 PM

If you don’t yet have an expense policy and you would like to approve the report, you will be able to create a new policy directly from the approve dialogue.

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 1.47.02 PM

Individuals using our product for free have always been Expensify’s base and we will always support them. However, as we have grown and developed as a company, it has been necessary to continuously rethink what features apply to our individual user and company users exclusively, how they interact, and the simplest way to present them. To this extent, we’d love your feedback! Please give us a shout at help@expensify.com and we’ll be glad to answer any questions you might have about this update.

Drag, Drop and Wow!

cead22 —  July 16, 2014 — 1 Comment

WOW Fridays, internally referred to as “fWOWdays”, are an experiment we just started at Expensify, and the main idea behind it is to allow engineers to devote 20% of their time working on cool projects that improve our customers lives and WOW them at the same time.

You may have heard of other companies doing something similar, but none of them really do it the way we do expense reports, that is, in a way that doesn’t suck. By focusing the 20% time on “Don’t-break-things-Fridays”, and shielding developers from support and other non-critical issues, they can stay in the zone and collaborate with other undistracted developers to build cool things.

This is a brief story of one of the first and probably smallest results of this experiment.

Drag and drop receipts to upload them

Drag to Upload

Drag and Drop Receipts Everywhere

Dragging and dropping receipts on the receipts page is the easier and faster way to import receipts from your computer into your Expensify account. We just enabled this functionality on the whole website, and made it smart enough to attach the imported receipts to expenses and reports automatically when you’re editing them.

Drag and drop receipt on report to attach it

Drag and drop receipts on report to attach it

As a consequence of this, an idea that had been in our designer’s wish list for months resurfaced, I call it “drag to report”. In that sentence, report is a verb, and put in words the idea is that as you drag expenses, a list of reports appears so that you can drop them into one of the reports to add said expenses to it.

The WOW factor

We’re constantly trying to make simple things simpler while saving our users valuable time. In this case it’s only a few seconds, but you’ll see how little savings tend to add up noticeably.

Drag to report expenses

Add 130 seconds (avg. number of expenses on a report * time it takes to SmartScan a receipt from your phone = 13 expenses * 10 seconds/expense = 130 seconds) and you end up with an expense report that don’t suck created and submitted in under 3 minutes.

Happy expensing!

This is my guest post written for LinkedIn Pulse, enjoy!

boss-hoggEverybody loves to rave about the bossless workplace, but it’s far more easily said than done. I’ve already written about the perils of the “flat management mutiny” — which comes as you emerge a leadership structure out of flat chaos — but it’s even harder going the other direction: dismantling an over-managed “top-heavy” structure and getting back to its roots. Here are some tips to pull it off in your organization:

  1. Identify your managers. This is easy: your managers are the people you put into management positions. You should already know this.
  2. Identify your leaders. This is actually quite hard. The difference between a manager and a leader might seem subtle, but couldn’t be greater: employees are assigned their manager, but they choose their leader. Figuring out who an employee actually looks up to is tricky because if it isn’t their manager, the mere acknowledgement of that fact forever changes the relationship between them and their manager — for the worse. Accordingly, the best way to do this is through very careful observation and casual conversation: body language is a key signal, so a pay attention.
  3. Identify the gap between your management and leadership structure. As immortalized by Alfred Sloan, “Good management rests on a reconciliation of centralization and decentralization.” Management is centralized, while leadership is decentralized. A great organization has the narrowest possible gap between the two: the organic, informal power structure that emerges naturally through working relationships should coincide as close as possible to the formal, top-down assignment of authority and responsibility. Or more succinctly: people should respect their managers, and if they don’t, bad things happen.
  4. Fire the bosses. A “boss” is someone who has been granted formal authority, but hasn’t earned the respect of their subordinates. Bosses aren’t leaders because employees wouldn’t choose to follow them if given an alternative: their authority comes from above, not below. Once you’ve identified the bosses, immediately begin laying the groundwork to fire them. First, however, you need to groom someone to step into their place. Toward that end…
  5. Promote your leaders. A “leader” is someone who has outsized influence beyond their formal role. It’s the person who their peers wish were in control, but isn’t because you haven’t noticed them yet. Notice them, engage them, and figure out how to encourage them to take on the authority that they deserve but haven’t made a point to ask for (which is why you didn’t know). It’s likely they haven’t asked because they are good team players (and thus don’t want to undermine their “boss”), and don’t crave authority — in fact, they’ll likely resist it. Leaders don’t ask to lead, they just do: they don’t seek out power, which is what makes them ideally suited to have it. Figure out how to craft a role that grants them broad authority over those tasks they are comfortable and willing to do (and that their peers will support), but that doesn’t force them to take on other responsibilities they might not be comfortable or willing to handle. Flexibility here is the key.
  6. Be decisive. Nobody benefits by you putting off the inevitable. The longer you wait, the greater chance your leader will take one of the job offers they are unquestionably receiving, leaving you with no way to replace the boss. Not only that, the longer you wait, the more likely the boss will take one of the job offers they are likely also getting, which undermines the authority of the leader you want to promote — it disempowers the promotion by making it seem reactionary, even if you had already planned to do it. The moment you make your decision, buck up and do it.
  7. Be honest. This isn’t about subterfuge — it’s about dealing with reality as it is, rather than how you’d like it to be. Nobody wants to be just a boss: they want to be a leader. They want the respect of the team, and if they haven’t earned it, they likely want and need your help to either get it, or change their role. If it gets to the point where you need to make a firing decision, always remember that it’s your fault, not theirs: you picked them, you put them in a role they weren’t suited for, and it’s your responsibility to make that right. That might mean another chance, career training, or a generous severance package. But at the very least, it deserves an honest explanation of the way you see it, such that they can learn from the experience. They might walk away thinking your an idiot. (In fact, they probably will.) But better that than them forever thinking of you as a liar.

It’s not fun, but firing is a major part of hiring. It’s better for you, better for your employees, and — in all honesty — better for them. Everybody I’ve ever fired has subsequently found a position that was better suited to them, and so long as you’re only hiring great people to start with, they will find that job very, very quickly.

David Barrett is Founder and CEO of Expensify (“Expense reports that don’t suck!”) and a frequent contributor on CNBC, Bloomberg TV, and Fox Business News. Expensify is always hiring awesome people, and would love to hear from you.