Small and medium businesses waste an average of 11 hours per month – the equivalent of more than three working weeks per year – submitting or managing expenses, according to new research by American Express.
While the saying ‘time is money’ certainly applies here, business leaders surveyed also estimated their employees collectively lose an average of £291 a month due to manual errors and inefficiencies. This data suggests current expense management processes aren’t working how many SME businesses need them to.
Business leaders said recouping lost time on expense management would enable them to focus on more value-adding activities, such as new business development, staff recruitment and customer and supplier relations.
Forty-six per cent of businesses had either a manual process, involving scanning paper receipts and manual data entry, or no formal expense process at all. Meanwhile, 50 per cent of business leaders and employees admit frustration surrounding the prospect of completing their expenses. This frustration is so great that many respondents from both groups would rather undertake mundane tasks such as updating their computer software (21 per cent) or attending a weekly early morning meeting (20 per cent).
A digitised expense management solution has the answer to some of the demands of business leaders. One of the most common reasons businesses use digitised expense management solutions is because of the ability they give to connect to employee cards and reduce the time employees spend submitting their expenses (31 per cent), generate less paperwork (30 per cent) and reduce admin (30 per cent).
A solution to expense management pain points?
However, there appears to be a disconnect between bosses and their workforce; 26 per cent of businesses that haven’t digitised believe their employees prefer a manual process. However, half of the employees said their current expense management process is inefficient – with lost receipts, inaccurate data and lack of time to submit and process claims as the biggest pain points cited.
American Express touted its own solution in the face of the findings: AmexExpense, a fully digital expense management tool enabling business leaders and employees to quickly scan, upload and approve expenses. Integration with accounting platforms gives business leaders more time to focus on value-adding activities.
Caroline Bouvet, vice president of UK products and partnerships at American Express, discussed AmexExpense: “In today’s technology-rich world, businesses have more opportunities, through intuitive tools such as AmexExpense, to save time and free up people to focus on their day job.
“Removing frustration around expense management and helping SMEs convert wasted hours into time spent on value-adding activities that grow their business is something we’re focused on.”