Abacus Updates

Abacus Expands Insights for Managers

Abacus introduces the ability for Managers to track and report on expenses their teams have submitted.

Abacus is opening up a new level of visibility for non-Admin expense approvers. As of today, Managers in Abacus are now able to track and report on any expense that has passed through their Inbox, or that originated on their team.

This capability ensures that not only will every expense be reviewed by the best-suited approvers via Approval Routing, but that every approver will also be able to gain Insights from those expenses.

Working with complex approvals

In 2016, Abacus introduced Approval Routing: a new system of routing expenses to the best-suited approver without the barriers of an expense report. This functionality gave finance teams an easy way to automate sophisticated, granular sequences of expense review. Every expense could be sent, through one set of simple rules, to a precise chain of approvers. (One of many features that’s only possible with real time expense reporting.)

But while Approval Routing empowered elegant workflows, it also created complexity that made reporting on expenses difficult for anyone who wasn’t an Admin.

As a refresher, here’s how Abacus delegates the authority to review and approve expenses to different users:

  • Employees — No approval authority. Only have visibility into their own expenses.
  • Managers — First level of approval for expenses submitted by their Employees or sent to them via Approval Routing.
  • Admins — Full visibility and final approval authority (that triggers accounting sync and reimbursement, if needed) for all expenses in the company.

When we first launched Approval Routing, Managers could only see expenses awaiting approval in their Inbox. Once approved, the expenses were sent to the next approver. Visibility was lost when the expense was reassigned for the next stage of approval.

Using Insights for Managers

Today’s release solves that problem. Managers now have perpetual access to every expense that has passed through their Inbox. No matter how an expense is routed, a Manager can always click into their ‘Approved’ bin to see and report on any expense that was assigned to them for review. This means they’re able to organize expenses they’ve approved into custom reports, see them in chart view, and utilize Insights.

Additionally, Managers also have visibility over any expense submitted by an Employee on their Team in Abacus, even if Approval Routing sends it to a different Manager for approval.

Here are some examples of how this visibility can help Managers gain Insights.

  • A Manager checks her team’s spending on travel against the quarterly budget by creating a Live Report for the relevant categories, clicking the Chart View, and instantly seeing all her Employees’ travel expenses in one simple graph.
  • A Manager at a building company helps plan a budget for Project B by pulling up a Live Report of his Employees’ spending on the category ‘Lumber’ for Project A, even though Approval Routing bypasses him and routes those expenses directly to Project A’s Manager.
  • A Manager on the Marketing team is made an approver on every expense with the event name ‘Conference A’. Even though the expenses are approved by the Finance team’s Admin before the Manager has a chance to review them, the Manager can still calculate the total cost of the conference by creating a Live Report of all expenses from ‘Conference A.’

Track the Progress of every expense

Insights for Managers isn’t the only launch today. As part of this effort to increase visibility, we also wanted to make sure Employees never again have to wonder about the status of their expense. Or who still needs to approve it. Or the most common question of all, “Where the hell is my money?”

To answer these questions, we’re excited to introduce a brand new section of the audit trail. Every expense now includes a progress map showing exactly where the expense currently sits on the road from submission to reimbursement.

Employees will never again wonder about the status of an expense, or whether it will route to a given project manager or team lead for approval. The full audit trail still lives with each expense, but with this map, employee will be able to see the status of each expense at a glance.

New expense activities

To help the progress map provide the full picture of an expense’s Approval Routing, we’re also launching two new activities that can be associated with expenses:

  • ‘Skipped’ refers to a Manager who could have reviewed an expense, but who no longer needs to because a higher-up has already approved or denied it.
  • ‘Bypassed’ refers to a Manager who is intentionally not able to review an expense due to Approval Routing. (For example, if any expense categorized as Project A is routed to the Manager in charge of that project, the Employee’s Manager is Bypassed.)

These new expense activities mean that Managers can view and report on all the expenses that come from their team, even ones they haven’t directly reviewed.

Improved expense visibility enables comprehensive, hi-definition reporting. Managers will now be able to see everything their team has spent, plan budgets more accurately, and forecast spending in full view of previous activity.

For more information, see our support doc.

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