Posted by Charles Edge on January 23rd, 2015

I’ve yet to see the perfect expense system. But I’ve seen some really bad ones that can crush a small business. These days, you should basically be able to make a report, review a report, export a report and track any potential violations to a policy that you make regarding reports. And you should be able to do all of this from an iPhone or iPad. The workflows can be pretty advanced or super-simple, according to the size of your team and the complexity of their needs. So here, we’ll look at a few recommended expense tracking apps and when you might use them.

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As with many app-based workflows, I’d strongly recommend that you download an app, test it out, see what pain points still exist after you’ve used it and then move on to another minimum of two apps before communicating with your team that you’d like them to use a specific app. Then you should spend a little off time every year looking for a better mousetrap. To put things in perspective, when we were tracking expenses on spreadsheets in a consultancy I was at for a long time and moved to an app, it took the team about the same amount of time to track expenses in the app. But they turned them in faster, and it took me half the time to review the reports, allowing me to invoice customers. When we moved to Expensify, and people linked credit cards, they were doing reports in half the time and it again cut the time it took me to process them in half. Adding bill.com to the workflow meant they emailed the reports to <companyname>@bill.com from the Expensify app, I did a quick review and hit approve and sometimes same-day, the money showed up in their bank accounts. Then the bill.com data went to QuickBooks and I smiled. Great workflow. When we had 20 people on the road, it meant a day or more per week were recouped! Awesome sauce!

Expensify: Expensify is one of the best expense apps I’ve used. It’s free for many, with paywalls existing to do things like OCR integration (scan an expense and have the information automatically updated – which they call SmartScan). You can link your credit card to Expensify and use it as a stand-alone tool making simple reports. Reports can be accessed on the Expensify website, etc. You can also use Expensify to manage a team, with some pretty cool workflows. Expensify integrates with GPS and tracks mileage as well. As one who sometimes reviews and approves expense reports, I’ve also always really liked emailing the pdf of a report from in the app to a tool like bill.com for quick and easy review and payment of the reports. All of the workflows can be done on iPhones, thus enabling a lot of management of such things from airports while you’re on the road so when you get home you can focus on the kiddos! If you don’t have any expense management systems in place, I’d start reviewing here.

ExpenseCloud Mobile: ExpenseCloud Mobile is one of the easier expense tracking apps to use and integrates with QuickBooks, NetSuite, Intact, OpenAir and FreshBooks. ExpenseCloud Mobile. ExpenseCloud can import from credit cards and also allows for defining attendees, clients, receipt images, etc. You can also define policies and track violations. Nice and simple, with a clean UI. And if you are a small business outsourcing HR to TriNet, all the better, as they make it!

Concur: If you use Concur for booking travel, then this is the tool to use for tracking expenses. When you purchase tickets, book hotels, etc, the information flows into Concur pretty naturally. You can scan receipts, integrate with credit cards, track mileage, use policies, etc. It’s a good system and comes with lots of bells and whistles.

XpenseTracker – This app doesn’t have a ton of features. It can scan a receipt, categorize expenses, break expenses out into multiple reports and track mileage. But this is all a lot of people really need to do. It’s a nice, simple little app and easy to get your team up-to-speed on if they’re new to tracking expenses on an iPhone or iPad.

Expense Management Premium – This is very similar to XpenseTracker, but built for tracking any type of expense (not just to make an expense report) and can also build cute bar charts on the fly. Good stuff.

And the best part of all these apps, is that you can distribute any of them through the Apple VPP portal. Most are free, so you can distribute them whether you have a VPP token or not. Many also integrate with back-end cloud services, so you can log in from a desktop for a larger screen to do your number nerding. Enjoy!