Law firms share common problems with other business, how to process employee expense reports quickly, while enforcing internal policies. What is somewhat unique about law firms and other professional service providers is the need to capture information when travel expenses are billed to clients. The standard in most progressive firms is a spreadsheet, probably designed by committee that either requires too much input or captures too little to be effective. We won’t even try and compare old fashion paper expense reports.
Problems with spreadsheet expense reports:
- Most spreadsheets offer no data validation, getting correct client/matter numbers or names, expense codes and other important information is very difficult.
- Most spreadsheets don’t automatically load directly into the firms accounting software. Re-keying is redundant labor and prone to delays and errors.
- Submitting a spreadsheet doesn’t provide feedback of acceptance and payment.
- Since the majority of reported expenses are credit card charges, there is no easy way to down load these expenses directly into a spreadsheet.
- They are hard to configure to handle complicated transactions like splitting a single dinner between a firm and client chargeable expense or entering a transaction in a foreign currency.
- Both clients and the government have receipt requirements for certain expense items; try attaching an image of these receipts to a spreadsheet.
- Spreadsheet expense reports are difficult to workflow around for approval without printing hard-copies with multiple signature lines.
Law firms can substantially improve the expense reporting process and save a substantially amount of money by using secured on-line expense reporting systems. The best service available to law firms is the service provided by Chrome River. The Chrome River system is very intuitive to use, therefore even your less than skilled users will adopt it. One key feature is the ability to link both personal and business credits cards to a user’s account, it allows then to drag and drop the transactions they choose onto their expense report. Firms will like the flexible workflow approval options and the easy way receipt images can be scanned and attached to the reports. After the expense report has been “submitted” by the user, it downloads into most time and billing systems and the user can track approvals and payment on-line.
Full disclosure, I use Chrome River and I love