Expense reporting is painful, says Raju Vegesna, Chief Evangelist for Zoho.
Zoho, he said, “wants to take the pain of expense reporting away.”
Today Zoho, which offers two dozen different productivity, financial and marketing business applications, announced the launch of Zoho Expense. It is the company’s 25th business software application to date.
There are two constituencies involved in expense management: the employee side and the organization side. Vegesna says that Zoho is designed to make things better for both constituencies.
First, there’s the employee side. Employees who incur expenses such as travel expenses, must submit them for approval and reimbursement.
There’s also the organization side. Managers review the expense reports and approve them. Then the expenses need to get properly accounted for and paid, and employees reimbursed.
Zoho Expense is designed to offer productivity improvements for both sides.
Reducing the Pain in Expense Management
“Expense reports are a pain for everybody involved,” said Raj Sabhlok, president of Zoho Corp. “Zoho Expense makes the process easier at every step, from creation to submission and approval.
It reduces the pain in expense management, Vegesna said, by cutting down the manual data entry required.
Employees can submit expenses simply by taking a picture of a receipt. Then the expense information is automatically extracted from the receipt by Zoho. It then is entered into the employer’s expense reporting system for approval, along with the receipt as support.
Zoho Expense also downloads transactions from over 5,000 financial institutions. It can associate the transaction record with the receipt submitted by the employee. Zoho Expense also can handle mileage tracking, through a setting with the employee’s smartphone GPS.
Zoho then can transfer the expense information automatically into the Zoho accounting application, called Zoho Books.
Later this year Zoho will also introduce what it calls “email parsing” of expense data. Vegesna gave the example of purchasing something through Amazon, and getting an email receipt. He says that Zoho Expense will be able to pull out the expense details from the email, and enter them automatically into the Zoho Expense reporting system.
Zoho Expense includes email alerts, analytics and reporting capability, to help employers manage their expenses better. Multiple manager approval levels can also be set up.
Zoho Expense is a separate standalone application. The first ten users cost $15 per month. Each user above that adds another $2.00. There is a free trial.
The mobile app component is available on iOS, Android and Windows mobile platforms.
Later this year Zoho Expense will also be offered for an all-inclusive price wrapped up in a packaged suite called Zoho Finance, along with Zoho Books and Invoicing.
Said industry analyst Brent Leary, “Zoho has been called the Swiss army knife of software. A Swiss army knife has a tool for just about everything, and Zoho has an app for just about every part of your business. With Zoho Expense they’re making it easier for employees and employers to manage a process both sides dread but know is important.”
Deep Integration is Key, Says Zoho
Vegesna claims Zoho’s advantage is that the expense application is integrated at many levels with the Zoho accounting application. And it’s not a limited integration, either.
For instance, it can automatically map expenses on a per-project basis. It can relate expenses to line items in the employer’s chart of accounts in Zoho Books. Approved expenses are automatically transferred to and entered into Zoho Books.
“If you look at expense management, and look at the number of vendors that offer both an accounting and expense management system for the small business market, surprisingly there are none. So you have to worry about integrating two applications, and that’s really painful for small businesses. With Zoho the expense reporting and accounting are tightly integrated. When you look at this as an integrated suite, it’s a case of one plus one equals three,” added Vegesna.
Zoho Expense will also be integrated into Zoho’s CRM system in phases. Zoho CRM is the company’s most popular software application.
Zoho, which is headquartered in Chennai, India, has its U.S. headquarters in Pleasanton, California. It also has offices in Austin, Beijing and Yokohama.
The company has been in business for 19 years. According to Vegesna, the company has 2,500 employees and is adding new ones to address growth at the rate of two new employees each day.
The company is privately held and doesn’t reveal its revenues. However, it has been growing 30 percent to 40 percent per year, and is profitable, according to Vegesna. “A few hundred thousand companies use Zoho,” he said, and it has 14 million individual users.
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