Article
Payroll Operations

NetSuite Expenses: The Easiest Way to Capture and Process Claims

Zone & Co acquired Infinet Cloud in May 2023. Please be aware that any prior mentions of Infinet Cloud, including the content below, now pertain to the unified entity. Managing expenses in NetSuite is better than managing expenses in most systems.

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10 min read

Zone & Co acquired Infinet Cloud in May 2023. Please be aware that any prior mentions of Infinet Cloud, including the content below, now pertain to the unified entity.

Introduction

Managing expenses in NetSuite is better than managing expenses in most systems.

A bold statement, so let us explain:

With NetSuite, once you get the data into the system you have a platform and interface capable of automating the flow of data through to the relevant approvers and/or general ledger accounts whilst giving you live, drillable reporting which you can customize to view the information you need.

The challenges with NetSuite expenses though, like those detailed in our previous article focussing on NetSuite timesheets, are not necessarily challenges with NetSuite but challenges with the nature of expenses. Because managing expenses is a financial task which relies on non-finance employees to drive the process.

And because it’s usually admin heavy, non-finance employees don’t understand the financial structure and management of the business (nor are they expected to), and importantly, everyone is too busy ‘doing’ their job to deal with added manual admin.

In this blog series we take a deeper dive into the four key steps of managing expenses and look at ways you can achieve this in NetSuite.

  • Capturing expenses in NetSuite
  • Processing expenses in NetSuite
  • Paying expenses from NetSuite
  • Reporting on expenses in NetSuite

This article will focus on step one, capturing expenses in NetSuite.

What’s the best way to capture expenses in NetSuite?

This is probably the most important consideration as it’s the part of the process which relies most on the non-finance members of the team and is usually the most admin-heavy just by its nature (remembering what you’ve spent. Cash, card, company card, paper receipts, PDF invoices, email receipts etc., - we’ve all been there, grabbing around under the car seat searching for that crumpled up coffee receipt!)

There are three options for capturing expenses in NetSuite:


Capturing expense reports in a spreadsheet to be manually entered or imported by finance.

The two benefits to this (there are only two, and we are being generous in calling them benefits) are:

  1. There are normally no additional capital costs as you likely have Excel or Google Sheets as part of your core business software portfolio, and
  2. You have the flexibility to capture whatever you want, in any order you want (realistically the second point is a weakness).

Of course we recognize that any investment in software must score well on the cost/benefit analysis so there are times when you need to make do.

If you’ve invested heavily in NetSuite as your finance system, you should not be using spreadsheets for expenses.

The time it takes is the biggest reason not to use spreadsheets, followed by the likelihood of error, saving over previous entries (or each other’s reports); sending claims to the wrong people or forgetting to send them at all! The margin for error is almost infinite (note* not Infinet).

Using standard NetSuite functionality to capture expense reports

This is the first step into Expense Report Automation in NetSuite. As standard, all NetSuite user licences include the ability to enter expenses claims (known as Expense Reports) directly in NetSuite using a grid mechanism via the browser interface, or a slightly more intuitive screen using their iOS or Android App.

The advantage to this is that the claims go directly into NetSuite, so the finance team can control permissions and set default accounts and classifications (commonly, Department, Class and / or Location) against pre-defined expense categories.

Users can also manually attach images of receipts to individual expense lines once they enter all the details as well as set which Customer or Project they were working on when they incurred the expense and whether this should be re-billed to the Customer, or is reimbursable.

Once the claim is complete and submitted for approval, it enters your NetSuite approval workflow. This means that everything is in one system through a single point of entry where each stage automatically triggers the next action once complete, such as reminders for the approvers, plus the audit trail is visible to anyone with permissions.

Managing expenses within NetSuite requires all employees to have a NetSuite lisence of some kind to enter and process expenses. You have two options for licences, either a full licence which provides access to the full system, or an Employee Centre licence which are sold at a reduced rate, in packs of five to provide restricted access – mainly for processing expense claims, timesheets, or view-only functionality to a few areas of the system.


The easiest way to enter expenses in NetSuite…MyPay

As a ‘Built for NetSuite Hybrid SuiteApp’, MyPay provides a unique solution for NetSuite customers that yields the best of both worlds – an affordable, user-friendly interface which includes features such as OCR capture for receipts, whilst ensuring that all data is posted to, managed by, and visible in NetSuite and leverages your existing NetSuite configuration.

Third-party apps frequently present a dilemma for decision-makers. They are normally purpose-built to address a specific requirement, but as a result are built independently from the core system and introduce additional functionality at the cost of a unified system.

This can lead to an additional spend as processes are removed from the primary system, reducing visibility and introducing data transfer complexities.  

MyPay tackles these common challenges head on.

The SuiteApp has been developed specifically for NetSuite. All expense categories and defaults are controlled within NetSuite and populated in MyPay through a near real-time API. So when you amend your core settings in NetSuite, they are instantly mirrored in MyPay. The app includes standard approvals, which can also be processed through your existing workflows.

So finance retain all the control and visibility you need, completely within NetSuite.

The advantages are plentiful. But let’s focus on the most challenging part of expense management – starting claims and reducing manual entry.

Based on real user requests, MyPay provides a ‘Receipt Manager’ which allows users to simply email or drag and drop PDFs and photographs directly into MyPay. The app then creates a line per receipt and, using OCR technology, populates the claim with relevant information such as total amount, currency, and transaction date. This means that all users have to do is confirm the values and add any additional information (such as expenses category – meal, travel etc.) and click ‘submit’.

The auto-save feature ensures that work isn’t lost if your connection drops or battery dies.

Importantly, as a hybrid SuiteApp, MyPay instantly pushes all information (including attachments) directly into NetSuite at the appropriate part of your process. So, whether you want it to go through an existing approval workflow, or you are happy for it to go straight to the GL – MyPay is a seamless vehicle for getting the information into NetSuite, and you’re in charge from there.

Summary

The most truthful sentence in this article for us is probably:

If you’ve invested heavily in NetSuite as your finance system, you should not be using spreadsheets for expenses.

To expand on that, if you are using NetSuite, you are also definitely processing expenses in your business. So, your two options are really whether you use standard NetSuite or a third-party app.

Common reasons that NetSuite customers purchased the system initially are due to its single data source, ability to automate tedious manual tasks, and improve reporting, the standard expense management functionality offered by NetSuite does provide a strong solution, however it still requires non-finance users to become NetSuite users and initiate a new claim by entering transaction details.

MyPay provides a unique third-party solution which combines the advantages of having purpose-built expense management functionality focussed on simplifying things for the end-user whilst ensuring that there is no sacrifice in control, process or visibility from within NetSuite. Simplified, more accurate entry, full automation and control.

Built for NetSuite

What else could you want?

Learn More

Video: Brief overview of MyPay
Video: OCR for Expenses
To find out more about expenses in NetSuite, click here to register for our upcoming webinar where we will discuss everything from Capturing & Processing to Paying & Reporting expenses.

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