Excel at expense management, just not with Excel.

Die Grafik zeigt ein Flugzeug, das XLS-Logo und ein Gefahrenhinweisschild um die Problematik der Reisekostenabrechung mit Excel zu symbolisieren.

When we talk to clients or prospects about their expense management, we often hear: “No, we do it with Excel. It works great.”

Although managing expenses with Excel is a significant step forward compared to templates, paper, and pencil, it’s still a bad idea because there are much better alternatives.

The following drawbacks have led us to integrate a digital expense management feature into our software.

The Disadvantages of Expense Management with Excel

Prone to Errors

Every manual entry carries the risk of typos. With Excel, there’s the added danger of incorrect formulas and accidentally deleted data. This results in incorrect reports, leading to extra effort. Costs rise, work time is wasted, and nerves are frayed. By the way: According to a study by the Global Business Travel Association, one in five (19%) manual expense reports contains errors. Each correction costs a company an average of almost €50.


Manually entering data into Excel, especially with large data sets, and checking numbers, formulas, and more is extremely time-consuming.


While Excel is practical for many things, it scales poorly. Especially when many employees work on one document, chaos is often inevitable, and the task quickly becomes confusing and complex.

Data Integrity

Closely related to the previous point is the risk of data inconsistency. No matter how many detailed guidelines and specifications are written, it often ends up in chaos. If the company works without an internal server or cloud, there’s always a risk with Excel that different versions of a file are in circulation and being edited. (In fact, this risk exists even with a cloud.) This can end in a small disaster.

Lack of Automation

What saves the most time? Right, automation. It’s arguably the biggest advantage of digitization. Unfortunately, the automation possibilities in Excel are very limited. It’s better than paper and pencil, but many processes still need to be done manually. This is time-consuming and inefficient.


Excel files can easily be:

  • Copied
  • Accidentally or maliciously shared
  • Manipulated or deleted
  • Or simply lost.

This undermines trust in the process and the accuracy and completeness of the data. Moreover, it poses a high risk to data security.

Reporting & Analysis

Excel has limited capabilities for creating comprehensive reports and analyses. Creating desired or required reports in Excel usually requires extensive know-how and is very time-consuming.

Compliance and Traceability

Compliance with legal regulations and the traceability of changes are difficult in Excel. Changes are often not documented or traceable. This poses an increased risk of legal issues for employees and the company.


Collaborating on an Excel file is problematic. While there are options to edit files live through internal servers and cloud solutions like Google Drive, it’s not flawless. Version control and traceability of changes are just a few examples of what can go wrong here.


The Excel skills of employees typically vary greatly. From absolute Excel experts to those who can only type something in, everything is usually represented. Managing expenses with Excel often leads to training needs and, in any case, a high error rate.

How Can I Avoid These Disadvantages?

Excel may be ranked among human achievements alongside the telephone, camera, or wheel. As software developers, Excel is often the basis of new ideas. We analyze what Excel can do but also what it cannot. We try to technically address this “lack.”

If you think we just want to sell our software, you’re absolutely right. We want to sell our software. We founded absence.io 10 years ago because we are completely convinced that it will make life easier for everyone. (And without false modesty: We were right.)

The travel expense reporting app from absence.io on a MacBook and an iPhone.

Our new feature manages to eliminate or at least minimize all the above disadvantages of Excel expense management.

With our software, expense management becomes:

  • Reliable
  • Efficient
  • Fast
  • Scalable
  • Consistent
  • Automated
  • Secure
  • Clear
  • Traceable
  • Transparent
  • User-friendly

If you want to see for yourself that we’re not talking nonsense, you can test our software for 14 days for free and without obligation. Additionally, our experts are always available for a free product demonstration and to answer any questions you may have.

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