Quick Tip: Use a Few Mobile Apps to Handle Expense Reports

Quick Tip: Use a Few Mobile Apps to Handle Expense Reports

I like to travel light, so schlepping around a bunch of receipts for reimbursement later is kind of a pain. After confirming with our accounts payable people that PDFs and JPGs were acceptable for submitting receipts, I set about unshackling myself from the messy practice of saving paper receipts for expense reports. Here's how.


Step One: Figure out how you're going to turn those receipts into digital files.

Yes, your smartphone has a camera, and that's perfectly adequate. But I prefer the $3.99 app Scanner Pro, for the following reasons:

The app automatically calibrates the image for you and zooms in on the stuff that's relevant; it's a nice, tight image file.

The app converts multiple snaps into a multipage PDF; this is very handy for lengthy receipts (like hotel statements).

The app saves things as PDFs, which is also very useful.

The app offers you the in-app ability to seamlessly send things to cloud-based services like Evernote, OneNote, Dropbox and Google Drive.


Step Two: Back up those digital files someplace you can get to them.

Remember how I mentioned that Scanner Pro can send files to popular cloud-based storage and information-management services? You can usually send your photos there too. The point is, get your scanned receipt files to a storage location. After all, you have to attach these files to an expense report. Bonus: you can cling to the digital files until your expense report is approved and you're reimbursed.

We've established that Evernote's a go-to for my workflow, and I use it here to tag and sort receipts by trip. Another friend of mine swears by creating a trip-specific folder in Dropbox and depositing his digital receipts in there. The sweet thing about his method: Dropbox's new mobile app lets users scan and upload documents and receipts from the lock screen of the phone, so it's very speedy. (I plan to try his scheme at CES 2017.)


Step Three: Now that you know where everything is, file those reports!

It's much easier to click-and-attach receipts on an expense report now. I think back to how I used to have to file expense reports -- taping receipts to a piece of paper, photocopying the corporate collage, then faxing everything to Accounts Payable -- and it feels like a long-ago nightmare.

Again, I have to stress, check with Accounts Payable for acceptable receipt formats before committing to a paper-free expense system. But once you've got the go-ahead, snap, store and file -- and leave all those little wads of paper out of your wallets forevermore.

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