If you’re on the road a lot, you know the pain of filing expense reports. You’re probably familiar with the little shreds of paper floating around your wallet, purse and laptop bag. They somehow dodge all your attempts to categorize them before they disappear into an unmarked folder somewhere. Not only do you need to keep track of all the receipts, but also your expense report form, the filing deadlines, etc. etc. etc.
Several pieces of technology are slowly making this easier. Expensify, Nexonia and a variety of enterprise tools are being used to automate the expensing process. Prialto offers these and some other great solutions for corporate expense management to our members. We streamline these technology tools to optimize our Productivity Assistants’ time. That said, adopting any of these platforms – Prialto or an enterprise expense tool - takes time, company initiative and money.
Whether you lack access to an expense management tool or whether you’re looking to leverage your existing tool more efficiently, a personal productivity tool like Evernote can greatly ease the burden of expense reporting. Expensify and other management apps can be synced to draw expense information directly from Evernote notes. Those without any expense management process can use Evernote to develop one. Though there’s nothing as efficient as purpose-built mobile apps, creating your own hack will at least let you clear those folded receipts from your bag.
For those of you still in the dark, Evernote is a cloud storage system that aims to be your “external brain.” For many, it’s a virtual filing cabinet and an essential element of their quest to become paperless. The features that set Evernote apart from competitors like Dropbox or Box are
- Evernote’s PDF-search functionality;
- Evernote’s integrations with a range of both hardware and software programs; and
- Evernote’s note functionality.
In a nutshell, it allows for both file storage and brain dumps, which are exactly what you need when tallying up those expense reports. So here are a few tips on how you can leverage it.
- Create a separate Evernote notebook for each different account for which you’ll be requesting reimbursements. This automatically creates your virtual “expense folder,” which is easily searchable by date or expense.
- Each time you get a receipt, simply open a new note in the relevant Evernote notebook and snap a photo of the receipt. Put a tag into your note with the photo, (or, if syncing with Expensify, the software will do this for you when it pulls in the image.) You can then throw away that pesky piece of paper.
- Use an Evernote partner program - File This Fetch is a great one - to sync corporate credit card bills to your Evernote account. File This Fetch automatically puts your statements into Evernote as soon as they’re generated. You can then annotate the bill with relevant expense account names or search for certain expenses easily. No scanning necessary.
- Create a note with your company's template expense report sheet. You can duplicate and reuse this note every time a new expense report needs to be generated. And the note can be edited right there within Evernote.
- Send your expense report directly from Evernote to your supervisor via email. There’s no need to print, date or manually submit that form. And your accounts department won’t even need an Evernote account to view it. They’ll just receive an email to let them know that the document is ready.
It’s true, if you’re filing expenses through Evernote, you’ll still need to manually enter data into an expense form. But if your company doesn’t provide and you don’t want to pay for an expense management tool, this workaround will at least get all your receipts out of your wallet and into a central folder. The best part? That folder will be accessible from all your devices and searchable in several different ways. Oh, and did we mention that it’s free?
What are some of your favorite ways to use Evernote for expense management?