Expense management 7 min read

How to track and approve employee expenses instantly

Tom Baragwanath

Everyone knows how much of a pain it can be to deal with workplace expenses.

One of the biggest reasons why expense management is so painful? The endless delays.

Delays for the employees waiting weeks to be reimbursed for their expenses. Delays for the managers waiting until the end of the month for a clear overview of expense spending. Delays for the finance team having to chase people for the right expense documentation.

Sometimes, it feels like every step of the process is designed to take as long as possible. With all this waiting around, it’s no wonder managing business expenses is one of the things employees complain about most often.

Fortunately, there’s now a way to manage workplace expenses securely and conveniently, with zero delay for anybody.

New call-to-action

Wait, zero delay?

Yep! With Spendesk’s integrated platform, every step of the expense management process becomes instantaneous. No matter who you are or what your job is, this will save you a lot of valuable time and effort.

If you’re out in the field and need to make a work-related purchase, you can use Spendesk’s prepaid expense cards. If the purchase is within your pre-approved budget for the month, it’ll be processed as quickly and easily as any other Mastercard purchase.

But if the purchase does require approval, a push notification will be sent to your manager to review and approve in real-time. This means no uncertainty, and no waiting around.

If you’re a manager or someone in the finance team overseeing expenses, Spendesk tallies and processes your team’s expenses in real-time, as expenses are paid and approved.

This gives you a detailed, up-to-date total of expenses at any time. You can say goodbye to nasty expense surprises at the end of the month.

How does it work, exactly?

Spendesk uses a range of handy features to make every step of the expense management process seamless, easy, and above all, fast.

This includes a centralised real-time dashboard, prepaid expense cards, instant receipt scanning, and a virtual credit card facility. All wrapped up, of course, in Spendesk’s intuitive user interface.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these features in turn.

Centralised real-time dashboard

All expense purchases made with Spendesk cards appear in real-time in the web or mobile dashboard, with all expense information gathered in one handy place.

Rather than waiting until month’s end to get a sense of company expenditure, Spendesk allows managers and finance teams to keep a close eye on who is spending company money and what they’re spending it on, all in real-time.

This integrated dashboard also allows managers to plan for recurring expenses in a simple and easy way. For example, managers can view all employee subscriptions in one place, and can receive notifications when these are about to expire.

Prepaid expense cards

Through issuing prepaid expense cards to individual staff, managers can tailor the expense budgets allocated to each team member, and for each category of expenditure.

For example, the manager of a sales team could set a monthly travel allowance reflecting the additional travel requirements of the team, whereas the manager of a marketing team could set a monthly allowance for marketing costs.

This not only puts managers in the driver’s seat to decide who can spend what; it also gives employees the freedom to spend company funds within set categories without having to ask permission first.

Spendesk also allows for new spending requests to be approved automatically or manually, depending on user preference.

Managers can even set spending limits to zero, meaning every expense request will send a push notification to the manager’s smartphone for instant verification. If the manager doesn’t approve the request, the funds won’t be spent.

With prepaid expense cards, you and your team can avoid the hidden costs of expense claims, as well as sidestepping the security challenges of a shared credit card.

Instant receipt scanning

Spendesk’s technology also captures receipts quickly and easily, using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to automatically scan and analyse receipt information.

It’s simple: staff just have to take a photo of the receipt, and Spendesk does the rest.

This might seem like a small step, but trust us: tracking down expense receipts can be a painful process. Just ask someone in your finance team.

Spendesk also features one-click exporting to accounting software, making it quick and easy for finance teams to reconcile expenses.

Virtual credit cards

With Spendesk’s virtual credit card facility, employees can access single-use virtual credit cards in just a few clicks whenever they need to make a payment online.

These virtual cards are single-use only, meaning they can’t be used for any non-approved purchase.

This allows for quick and convenient online spending, and also saves employees from having to share company credit card details, which can contribute to workplace expense fraud.

Once again, the virtual credit card facility allows for instant manager approval, giving managers close oversight of online company expenses.

With these handy features, everyone wins.

Why is this important? 

Most companies choose to stick with the boring old expense report process. While this is clearly still a common way to deal with expenses, it's far from ideal.

Expense reports come with significant problems for your business. Most obviously, they cost huge amount of time to file and process. 

But even worse, expense claims are seriously prone to error, and even downright fraud. Some individuals admit to claiming up to $25,000 in false expenses every year. Which is a pretty horrifying amount. 

And they're just annoying for employees - both travelers who claim and the finance team members who process them. Expense reports put a real dampener on what should otherwise be productive work.

Which is why we're certainly that expense automation is a smarter choice. And even better, give your teams their own expense cards and eliminate expense reports altogether.

The benefits of automation

The only way to truly make expense approvals instantaneous is with automation. And expense automation provides a few clear advantages. 

Employees stick to policy

We'll let the team at Lutz explain this one

"How many times have you gotten an expense report that includes something like a $179.63 restaurant receipt when you had set a $150 limit for two-person client dinners? Or an airline ticket in Business Class when you had specified coach only? You can detail your company’s policies as you set up your online expense solution, so employees always see them."

You capture more receipts, faster

A key challenge for most finance teams is ensuring that all expense claims contain the right receipts. If these are missing, you can't claim tax back and the company loses out. 

As the PerfectForms blog explains, automation fixes this on its own.

Reimbursement is typically contingent on submitting a receipt, and an employee is simply out of luck if they happen to lose it. Because this can be frustrating for employees, why not make it easier, and allow them to snap a photo of their receipt as soon as they get it.

Then they can easily upload their receipt into their digital form and be on their merry way."

You free your finance team for more important work

"Accounting and finance teams are among the busiest people on the planet." Wise words from the folks at And they continue: 

"Here’s the thing – a lot of their work is manual, redundant and very time-consuming. This is primarily because they still manage a lot of paper. Invoices, receipts, expense reports, checks and supporting documents are just a few examples."

You'll have a better grasp on company spending

The classic expense process is opaque - you often don't know what's been spent until it's too late. Spendesk-style expense automation means you see spending in real time. 

As TravelBank explains, this makes your business more forward-focused:

"It’s easier to predict resource needs in advance and follow up with accurate reports afterward. The end result? More transparent, accurate information that can help optimize productivity and strengthen forecasting abilities in your company."

Company expense processes built for companies

By making each step of the process instantaneous, Spendesk helps employees, managers and finance teams avoid slow, clunky expense management.

For employees, prepaid cards mean greater freedom and certainty in managing expenses. More importantly, prepaid cards avoids staff having to go into their own pockets to cover company expenses, save receipts, and wait weeks for reimbursement.

For managers, Spendesk means no more worrying about fitting within spending budgets for the month. Because every single expense is either pre-approved or subject to instant verification, managers have firm control of team spending.

The real winners? The finance team, who no longer have to spend valuable time reconciling expense information, checking over expense claims, or chasing people for receipts.

Think of all the other valuable work your finance team could be doing instead!

A clear & simple overview of company expenses

Spendesk doesn’t just save time through instant expense verification: it also provides a simple overview of every step of the spending process, tracking expenses from order to payment.


With Spendesk, managers and finance teams have access to clear, customisable approval flows for purchase requests, giving greater certainty and confidence over the use of company funds.

Every company dollar spent can be tracked in detail. For cash-strapped startups, this can make all the difference.

Time is your most valuable resource - don’t waste it!

With integrated expense solutions like Spendesk out there, there’s no longer any excuse for subjecting your team to the hell of clunky expense claims or shared company credit cards.

Through automating standard expense processes, Spendesk not only cuts down the time and hassle of managing expenses, but also gives you and your team added confidence and security.

Spendesk’s platform makes every step of the expense management process instantaneous, putting managers in the driver’s seat and ensuring certainty and security in managing expenses.

For more information, check out our product descriptions and see how Spendesk could save you time and effort.

Then, when you’re ready, you can book a free demo for your company and see Spendesk in action.

New call-to-action

Expense management
Stay in the know

The latest spend management insights. Straight to your inbox.


Tom Baragwanath

Tom Baragwanath is an author and freelance content marketer.