A Little Better Every Day

David Barrett —  October 14, 2010 — 18 Comments

I was taking with a user the other day and I asked “So, we’ve been doing a ton of work, what do you think?”   He thought about it and replied:

I have noticed massive improvements in the iPhone app. With the HTTP application, I’m hard-pressed to think of the changes I’ve encountered.

I was struck in two ways.  The first way was: ‘Wow, we’ve been working around the clock making this thing better, and he didn’t even notice?” But then the second was “Actually, that’s great news.  That means we’re doing things right.”

See, we have two conflicting goals: make the service better, but do so without alarming or upsetting our existing users.  We do this by making very small changes, continuously, and rolling them out in an incremental fashion such that — hopefully — nobody notices.  It just gets a little faster,  easier, and better every day.  Unfortunately (or fortunately?) sometimes we need to make substantial changes that people will definitely notice.  We’ve got a few of those coming up, so I’m going to try to explain what they are as they come, starting with the changes we just released to the reports page.

Behold, Stars and Simpler States

Expense reports can go through a surprising variety of states, many of which are generally uninteresting to you but we need to track anyway.  But whereas before we just threw the full complexity out there for you soak in, in an effort to make things simpler we’ve opted to reduce the number of visible states from over ten to the following five:

  • Open – This report is being edited
  • Archived – The creator has archived the report
  • Submitted – It has been submitted and is awaiting approval
  • Approved – It has been “final approved”
  • Reimbursed – It has been or is in the process of being reimbursed

Some of these states have informational sub-states — eg an “Open” report might have been “[rejected]”.  It’s still open, but this gives a sense of how it got there.  These sub-states appear in square brackets next to the name of the report.  Additionally, for those reports that are waiting on you to do something, we’ve added a helpful “ToDo” column that has a friendly star in it:

New ToDo column, simplified report states

So ya, it’s nothing earth shattering.  Some people might not have even noticed. But it’s the sort of increasingly-visible change we make every day, rolled out in a way that hopefully minimizes the impact on existing users.  We’ve got a lot more on the way, so please speak up if we do something you don’t like or if there’s something you’d like us to do more.  Thanks!

David Barrett


Founder of Expensify, destroyer of expense reports, and savior to frustrated employees worldwide.

18 responses to A Little Better Every Day


    I notice lots of “little” improvements every time I use your system. For example, the expenses now can be edited in line, and receipts can be attached more easily. Some time ago, you added more depth to the Policies and Administration areas.

    Nice work!

    Nimish Mehta


    Still can’t forward emails from airlines, hotels, etc., but I get around that by saving to PDF and emailing. Other than that, service works well.


    I noticed that the “Rejected” tab is no longer available to view. Is there a way to put this back in?




    I may be missing this, but do you flag reports that violate policy at the expense report level on “manage my reports”? In my testing, I can see out of policy expenses on the report at drilldown, but I can’t see if an overall report is in violation. If it doesn’t exist currently, this would be an excellent way to make things “A Little Better Every Day”


    Buen día.

    Un cambio que se debería de hacer en el sistema, es el hecho de poder cambiar masivamente el estatus de reembolsable o no reembolsable, ya que para hacer este cambio se debe de ir uno a uno, cuando bien se podría seleccionar todos aquellos gastos que uno necesita hacer dicho cambio.

    Saludos, y muchas felicidades por los cambios excelentes que están haciendo.


    That’s a really great idea. Really obvious but never occurred to us. I’ll add that to our list. Thanks!


    Rejected reports are still shown, but in a different way:

    • Before: As “Rejected”
    • Now: As “Open” with a “[rejected]” tag before the report name

    It’s true you can’t explicitly show/hide rejected reports. But you *can* show/hide “Open” reports, which includes “[rejected]”. Can you give this a shot and let me know if it meets your needs?


    Oh, that’s odd — you should be able to just forward them to receipts@expensify.com. We’ll look up your account based on the email address that sent it (and you can associate any number of email addresses with the same account). I’ll write you direct so we can diagnose the problem together. Sorry for the inconvenience!


    Rock on with your bad self, sir. I love the service and it gets better every time I log in.


    Hola Luis,

    Estamos a punto de lanzar un rediseño visual a todo el portal, y con eso vendrán muchos más cambios de funcionalidad en las siguientes semanas. De hecho, uno de los cambios que tenemos planeados es agregar la funcionalidad de edición múltiple, que incluirá la opción de reembolsable / no-reembolsable.

    ¡Muchas gracias por tus sugerencias y tus comentarios positivos!



    I just discovered your blog about Expensify and I have to tell you that I love the openness and honesty that you have towards your software, your upgrades and how you do things.

    One request; I would love to see a way to go from a receipt with all of its details to an expense item. Creating the expense without seeing the receipt doesn’t always work too well.

    Other than that I love your software. Not something I say often.



    Hi guys – sometimes, we get combined receipts (eg one hotel bill with room and food charges) that we need to split up before we file expenses. I believe you have heard this one before… is this on your list of to do items?



    George – Totally agree. Currently when looking at the receipt attacher we do show the expense data so you get a sense of this, but it’s not clean. We plan on overhauling receipt management soon so expect good things on this front. Just don’t expect it immediately. 😉

    Nimish – Yes, the best way to handle that is to use the “Split” feature: click on the expense line, then click “Split” at the bottom of the dialog. Can you take a look and email me at dbarrett@expensify.com if you have any questions?


    That’s a really great idea. Really obvious but never occurred to us. I’ll add that to our list. Thanks!


    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you
    writing this article and the rest of the site is
    also very good.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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  2. The Expensify Experience « Expensify Blog - November 18, 2010

    […] Reports: We simplified report states and added starred reports so you can easily see which reports are awaiting action. You can read more about it here. […]

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    […] So things might be quiet for a bit while we settle in to our idyllic valley and set up a permanent camp.  We’ve got a large stack of work in front of us, including massive performance improvements, improved mobile apps, streamlined accounting flows, an so on.  They’ll be trickling out here and there, sticking with our goal of just getting a little better every day. […]

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