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Disadvantages of Excel expense reports

Expense spreadsheet timer 2 min.
Carol Bernard
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For managing expenses, many companies opt for Excel as the applied solution, or a similar spreadsheet programme. On first impression, it seems like a good idea: it is an economical, accessible software that is easy to use. However, is this actually the case? Is Excel really a practical solution for managing companies’ expenses? Here is an explanation of the truth about these expense and mileage claim spreadsheets.

One of the main downfalls of Excel spreadsheets is the lack of control. What often tends to happen is that, even though employees use the same template, each of them completes the forms according to their own criteria and interpretation. It is extremely difficult to analyse the expense and look for saving opportunities. It is also hard to monitor compliance with the expense policy. The analysis of expenses generated, the budget and suppliers, etc. can provide very valuable information for the company, as long as they can access this data.

In addition, expense monitoring in itself is a complicated task. If you want to conduct thorough monitoring, the expenses need to be checked one by one against each of the paper receipts that the corporate traveller must have saved from restaurants, petrol stations, tolls, hotels, etc. This process can take several hours, even days for the supervisor, who often has to choose between wasting lots of time on this task or doing it superficially or at random, probably letting many errors slip by unnoticed.


Errors are another common problem expense reports drafted with Excel. As is the case with all tasks performed manually and based on paper, it is extremely likely that business travellers who report expenses make involuntary mistakes: numbers entered wrongly, duplicated expenses or expenses relating to a previous settlement period, misapplication of the expense policy, etc. There may even be cases of internal fraud, because effective may be unfeasible as we mentioned.

Therefore, we can see that a solution that, on first impression, seemed easy and economical, such as expense and mileage claim spreadsheets using Excel, in reality, turn out to be a source of extra cost for the company, both in terms of money and time. As such, it is better to use specialized tools that generate a number of much more significant benefits in terms of efficiency and savings.

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