Why Your Expenses Need to Get Out of Excel NOW

Joanie Wang —  November 6, 2014 — 1 Comment

If you’ve ever done an expense report on Microsoft Excel, then you probably know how much it sucks. Like bottom-of-the-barrel, I-need-a-drink-to-get-through-this type of suck.

Why? Why do you do this to yourself over and over, time and time again?

  • Is it because you’re a contractor who only does expense reports once every few months?
  • Is it because you’re a startup of 10 and don’t want to pay to ease your pain?
  • Is it because you’re a company of 30 that is not quite ready to scale, so you’ll hold out until you do?
  • Is it because you’re actually masochistic and kind of enjoy a monthly dose of pain?

Kidding on the last point, but really ask yourself why you are still on Excel for your expense reports. If any of these apply to you, it’s probably time to make an important change in your life (and for those of you who’ve never done an expense report, lucky you! Come back to me when you are no longer the bright-eyed youngster you currently are).

Need a reason to upgrade? Well we’ve got five. Let’s talk through the pain.

1. You’re Wasting Someone’s Time (If Not Your Own)

Don't waste your controller's time with expense reports that suck

Do you really want to waste your controller’s time tracking emails, getting signatures, chasing employees for paper receipts? Or do you want them to have more time to do other controller-y things? Thought so.

“For the backend bookkeeper, I’d say Expensify is saving them 5-20 minutes per entry. In total, we’re saving 20-30 minutes per expense report across the company. The approval workflow specifically is saving us a ton of time as well; no more chasing emails and gathering signatures!” — an Excel ditcher.

2. Excel is #Basic With a Capital B

B is for Batman and he does not approve

Batman hates Basic — have you seen his Batmobile?!

Things Excel Can Do

  • Reimbursement through Paypal or ACH? Nope.
  • Import bank feeds? Nope.
  • Integrate with your accounting software? Nope (and dear god, please don’t tell us you use Excel for accounting…).
  • Take a photo of your receipt and SmartScan it? Nope
  • Track distance or time? Nope.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Excel is Basic with a capital B.

3. Automation is Fabulous

Automation is fabulous expense reports

Sure, you can type in each expense line-by-line, but why not automate that process? Take a picture of your receipt, have it automatically transcribed for you, send in your expense  report, and get approved and reimbursed all in the same system (and possibly the same day, depending on how fast your company works).

Face it, Excel barely delivers what you need but your expense reporting system could do so much more! Whether you’re a 5-person company or a 200-person company — focus on your company, not on your expense reports. Controllers, it’s time to upgrade to 2014 already.

4. You’re Hurting the Environment (and Wasting Money)

before you ink, think

Kind of preacher-y, but you get the message

There’s lots of chit chat going around about the state of the environment right now (see here, here, and here), and the world doesn’t need more ways to accelerate global warming. Paperless is the new black and if you don’t care about the environment, then consider how much money you’re saving by not printing every single expense report. Printer ink is more expensive than it should be and paper is a tree killer, so at least do it for the environment. If you can’t bring yourself to believe in global warming, then at least do it for the kids.

5. Don’t You and Your Team Deserve Better?


The fact is, there is only a finite amount of time you and your team have to get shit done. Do you want your entire team to spend one day each month (that’s approximately 96 hours if your expense reports were as horrid as mine)? What about the 29 or so days leading up to that day dreading them?

No! Focus on the important things, and leave expense reports to the people who hate them the most (cough cough). We promise you’re in good hands.

Have an expense report/Excel horror story? Want more reasons why expense reporting in Excel sucks? Leave us a comment, we love hearing from you!

Joanie Wang


Joanie Wang is the marketing lead at Expensify. When she isn't helping rid the world of expense reports that suck, she is doing yoga, diving into SF's culinary scene, or playing with her adorable puppy Arya.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Expense Management with the Most Radical Shorts Company in the World « Expensify Blog - December 10, 2014

    […] started out, they used Excel to track their expenses. “We would have employees fill out their Excel sheets with stapled receipts. I would plug that into QBO, then write them a check,” says Dave […]

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