Cloud Accounting & Finance

The 2 Types of Expense Management Solutions: Real Time vs. Batch Reporting

expense reporting solutions

You’ve decided you need a new expense management solution. You’ve talked with stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations. You’ve created a list of needs and requirements in the software you want. You’ve outlined your current expense reporting process and the challenges you face. 

Now, time to research your options. As you start your research, begin with understanding the types of expense management solutions. Expense management solutions break into two main system types: batch reporting and real time expense reporting.

The type of system you choose will affect the features and capabilities available to you, as well as the process for submitting, reviewing, and approving expenses.This article overviews the two types of solutions to choose from. 

Related: Our buyer’s guide to expense reporting software. Download it for free.

Batch Reporting Solution

Expenses are collected over a period of time and then grouped together into a report to be submitted for reimbursement.

  • Pros: Mirrors the traditional expense reporting process but is expedited with technology like mobile receipt capture and online submission
  • Cons: Expenses are arbitrarily grouped together, preventing granular levels of control and the ability to create dynamic reports and workflows.

Real Time Expense Reporting

A real time expense reporting solution indexes individual expenses, reducing the need for a batched expense report. 

The term “real time” is broadly used and abused, often applying only to particular features such as receipt capture, which can be misleading. A true real time solution considers expenses as individual transactions and logs each independently, similar to a search engine.

  • Pros: The ability to create customized workflows, views and reports, as well as set granular, expense-level controls for your policy and automation.
  • Cons: Learning a new process for managing expenses.

Basically, the main difference between real time and batch reporting systems is rooted in the submission and approval process. 

Each feature in your expense reporting software will be impacted differently by the type of solution – real time expense reporting and batch. Vendors may use these terms loosely, so dig into the feature’s impact for the submission and approval process with each solution.

Download our buyer’s guide for a full list of features to look for and an evaluation toolkit. 

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