Tracking expenses on the road can be a massive productivity breakdown for busy road warriors, particularly if you don't have a fairly effortless way to get all your receipts captured into your expense reporting system. I know more than a few hardcore business travelers for whom a jumble of paper slips at the bottom of the laptop bag usually turns into weeks of procrastination before finally sitting down to organize, record, categorize, and report every little latté purchase or taxi ride from a long trip. The new Expensify app for Android and iOS could be just what these folks need.
I've written about Expensify before on this blog, and I continue to like it for its simple capture capabilities. The addition of receipt scanning makes the app even more useful by taking one of the most laborious steps out of the process. Here's how it works.
Step 1: Scan a Receipt
When Expensify says "scan," what it really means is "take a picture with your smartphone's camera, and let the server read it for you." You don't have to open Expensify first; just snap a pic with the phone's camera app if that's more convenient, and then load that pic into Expensify later when you have some free time.
Step 2: Turn On Scanning
The first time you upload a receipt with the new Expensify app, it'll prompt you to turn on scanning. Say yes, and it'll upload the receipt to your account and start "scanning" it.
Step 3: Categorize & Report
The next time you log into your Expensify account on the Web, you'll be able to browse to your uploaded receipts. Any receipts you've uploaded within the last 10-15 minutes will say "Scanning" across the top, as the service takes about that long to complete each scan. Once the scanning's done, you can categorize the purchase or add it to an expense report.
Step 4: Buy or Earn Credits
This new scanning feature isn't exactly free. Each scan costs you 20 Expensify credits. The service starts you off with some credits for free, and you can earn more by spamming your friends. For each friend you refer, you get 100 credits. If luring your friends to join your online expense-reporting cult doesn't sound like the sort of thing you want to do, you can buy credits at a rate of a penny a credit. So basically, if you're not using free or earned credits, you're looking at 20 cents per scan. Whether that's a bargain for you depends on how many receipts you've got, how much your time is worth, or whether you have an intern you can sucker into doing the task for you.