If You Use Excel To File Expense Reports, Stop

If You Use Excel To File Expense Reports, Stop

If You Use Excel To File Expense Reports, StopIt’s an easy choice to make, especially for people that aren’t looking at the big picture of their finance department. You know that you need to have expense reports filled when you send employees out on business trips, but you’ve already had a bad experience with how disorganized just writing up a report by hand and submitting receipts can be. However, you don’t want to make a “needless expenditure” on specialized software for that activity. So you look at your current range of office productivity software and see that you’ve something like Excel or another spreadsheet program already there. This won’t cost you anything, so why not use this instead?

There are a few reasons why this is not a great idea.

False Reporting

In the same way that Excel makes it easy to enter in data, it has no safeguards to ensure that the data that is entered is actually accurate. In some ways, making a fraud report may be even easier using a spreadsheet than a more traditional expense report, since it can be done on a laptop or any other device.


People can make errors when they fill out an expense report, even on a spreadsheet. More worryingly however, if you are using some kind of formula on certain cells, you have to regularly inspect the equations used in those cells to ensure they are accurate and/or not modified. Someone using an incorrect formula on a cell can create a widespread error in an expense report even if he or she accurately entered all the information correctly.


A spreadsheet is a “closed” system. It can only interact with itself, and perhaps a word processor. So if you need to attach files, such as photographic proof of a restaurant receipt, or you want to add the expense report data to your in-house accounting system, it is a slow, tedious, manual process. Modern expense report software accommodates all these needs.

It Is Time Consuming

Manually filling in a spreadsheet is only marginally faster than doing it by hand. Processing the information from a spreadsheet when it’s not integrated with the rest of a system takes time for your finance department. And because a spreadsheet can’t include additional information like receipts those receipts still need to be collected and filed by employees. All of these things use up important time and good expense report software can eliminate.