How We’re Killing Expense Reports
The expense report is broken. The entire concept was a necessity of a previous era when it was simply more cost effective and efficient to process stacks of paper in batch. Today, the secular shift in customer expectations that has fueled market challengers in B2B services like accounting (Xero) and payroll (ZenPayroll) has put pressure on the rest of the back office to mirror the experience that customers have come to take for granted in their personal lives. It’s not enough anymore for a SaaS provider to just offer an online expense report – that’s essentially the digital equivalent of giving businesses a faster horse.
We’re building Abacus. We intend to eliminate the need for expense reports altogether. Ted, Josh and I are reimagining the expense management workflow born mobile, from the ground up to mirror the speed and simplicity of sending a tweet. To understand the impact of this, we need to independently analyze the motivations of each of our 3 key stakeholders:
Employees: Extrapolating away the entire concept of the expense report from employees while rewarding them with next day payouts (request access to our beta for next day payouts by emailing email@example.com) encouraged submissions on-the-go, resulting in a 5x decrease in employee processing time compared to the nearest competing service. What… happier, more productive employees? Yes please.
Managers: By building the entire manager experience right into the mobile app, managers are now able to review, seek clarification and approve expenses right from their phone for the first time. Our aim was to make it as easy as archiving your inbox – something most managers are more than familiar with 🙂
Accountants: Somewhat counterintuitively, the increased velocity and fragmentation of expense submissions and payouts actually led to a significant decrease in the finance team’s work. By letting Abacus take care of the employee communications, payouts, manager reminders and accounting sync in real time, accountants have seen their roles shift from drivers to monitors. Without the need to follow-up with their co-workers, remit payments or manually push to accounting software, accountants are free to dynamically generate reports that are important to them when they need.
What we’re not building is another expense tracker. Our thesis is that the crux of the problem is not in the tracking, but rather the back office workflow. What we’re aiming to solve is a team collaboration problem – help employees easily request and receive reimbursement for business expenses, while allowing managers to quickly seek clarification and make a decision, all the while giving accountants the peace of mind that approvals, payouts and bookkeeping are seamlessly happening in the background.
We believe that employees today expect more. The pandora’s box is open and employees know what their business tools should feel like because they experience it everyday with their consumer applications. We also feel that employers have the opportunity to truly differentiate themselves as a place that puts employee satisfaction high on its priority list. No one wants to be the company where employees are selling shoeboxes full of receipts to colleagues for $0.60 on the $1 just to avoid dealing with the frustration of submitting an expense report.