Your Finance Team

6 Cool Things You Can Do With Custom CSV Exports

Illustrating the utility of a simple, powerful way to transport expense data across systems.

Portability is an essential part of owning any asset. Just like you wouldn’t buy a car you could never drive out of the garage, data is only really yours if you can move it.

But ask yourself: how many accounting systems allow you to move the data you want, where you want, in the way you want it? Too often, this level of portability is not easy. Which makes that data, effectively, inaccessible.

Abacus recently launched a feature called Export Builder that offers a radically simple way to create and edit CSV templates. Combined with our existing Live Reports feature, Export Builder makes it easy to get the exact data you want in the exact CSV format you need. We hope it opens up new ways for our customers to use their expense data, whether in other software or in spreadsheets.

To illustrate the simple, flexible power of a custom CSV, we wanted to highlight a few of the things our customers are able to do with data formatted exactly how they want.

Integrate with any accounting software

Abacus is able to sync data automatically, through API integrations, with systems like NetSuite, Intacct, and QuickBooks. But some systems don’t support any API integration at all. To connect with that software, you need to upload data in specific formats. Custom CSV templates allow you to export data that is ready to upload immediately, without any finessing.

Track employee mileage

One primary benefit of a custom CSV is that not only does it have all the information you need, but it doesn’t have anything you don’t need. The ability to export only what you want saves manual work.

For example: some employees need to track the miles they’ve driven during a certain time period, for tax purposes. A normal data dump would require them to sort through every expense for mileage expenses and cull the data they need. With a custom CSV export, the employee or the finance team could pull mileage expenses only, and then export as few as three columns:

  • Employee
  • Date
  • Miles

Bill expenses to clients

Abacus supports two workflows for billing expenses back to clients. The first is a standard PDF export of a set of expenses (which can be pulled, down to the level of individual expenses, via Live Report). This includes every detail for each expense, including an image of its receipt.

You can also provide the client a simple flat file by exporting a CSV with only the expense data they’ll want to see. For example:

  • Employee
  • Vendor
  • Date
  • Amount
  • Business reason (note)

Moreover, you’ll be able to instantly produce this file in any format the client finds most convenient—whether they’re creating a manual spreadsheet or uploading it into other software.

Tailor your own spreadsheet

Custom CSVs also get any spreadsheet-based analysis started off quickly. Abacus Insights offers robust reporting, but we all know there are some projects—and some people—for which nothing but the most lovingly hand-crafted spreadsheet will suffice. Custom CSVs make those projects more accurate and convenient.

Suppose you’re trying to compare project costs across clients. In Abacus, you would simply pull up a Live Report of all expenses with a certain category or team field—say, every expense tagged to a certain set of job codes—and export the information you need:

  • Client name
  • Category
  • Project code
  • Vendor
  • Amount
  • Date

This allows you to get started tweaking and massaging and color-coding your spreadsheet to your heart’s content, without having to get rid of extraneous data first.

Calculate ROI with CRM data

If you were trying to calculate the ROI of a salesperson’s trip to visit clients, you’d need to combine revenue and pipeline data from your CRM with data from your expense system. A custom CSV could isolate what you need to look at for every expense.

With a custom CSV template, this is easy. Create a Live Report of every expense from that trip and export simply:

  • Client name
  • Amount

You can also import the data into your CRM easier with a custom CSV instead of doing your analysis in a spreadsheet.

Reimburse international employees

Some Abacus customers reimburse international employees by creating spreadsheets of what each employee in a foreign country is owed, and then uploading that file to payroll software. A custom CSV makes that entire process instantaneous. Customers can instantly isolate and export the information they need:

  • Employee
  • Office location
  • Amount (which can be exported in their home currency)

Abacus spits out the data in a format that is ready for upload into the payroll software, cutting time and improving the accuracy of the entire project.

Liberate your data

Export Builder, the custom CSV export feature Abacus debuted last week, not only helps customers produce instantly prepared flat files of expense data, but makes it easy to build, edit, and switch between the templates.

By giving customers a portable version of their data, it gives them a little more ownership over their spend. Export Builder, like every innovation we produce at Abacus, is geared towards eliminating as much overhead as possible from the expense reporting process.

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