With easy policy expense management and an intuitive user interface, Abacus Expense can help your business process reimbursements quickly. This expense management application is better suited for larger businesses with more complex expense management needs, but a Starter plan is available for smaller businesses.
Abacus offers good expense management capability and is a great fit for business owners managing multiple teams of employees. Doing away with the traditional expense report, Abacus helps you create a company-wide expense policy, allows your employees to submit a reimbursable expense for approval, and automatically tracks credit card expenses. See if Abacus is a good fit for your business.
Who is Abacus?
Abacus Expense is designed to expedite the expense management process, making it a terrific solution ideal for midsize businesses that need to get a better handle on the entire expense management process.
Abacus does offer a Starter plan for smaller businesses, but it truly shines in the mid-market, offering features such as accrual accounting sync, credit card integration, and programmable approval routing -- all useful, but most not vital for smaller businesses.
Abacus offers an intuitive user interface that is modern and uncluttered. You can manage all your expenses -- and your employees’ expenses -- by simply switching from the personal view to the admin view. A mobile app is available for iOS and Android devices; the app is easy to navigate from the start, but it is primarily used to create and submit expenses, and doesn't offer a lot of additional functionality.
If you want to create an expense report, you’ll need to look elsewhere, since Abacus’s expense reporting does not include that feature. Instead, your employees can submit reimbursable expenses using the New Expense option on the home page. Once the required fields are completed and a receipt matched with the expense, employees can submit the expense for approval and quick reimbursement.
Because of the way reimbursement works with Abacus, once an expense has been approved, the reimbursement process is automatically triggered, with the system placing reimbursements into an escrow account for future transfer into your employee’s bank account via ACH.
Though initial processing times can take up to 8 business days, as the ACH transaction processing feature is used more frequently, transaction processing times normally drop to 2 to 3 business days. Your employees can set up their banking information directly from their dashboard for easy future reimbursement.
To track both expenses and payments, Abacus offers direct integration with QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Online, and Xero, with additional integrations available in its more expensive plans.
You can easily approve employee submissions from the Admin homepage. Image source: Author
Abacus also makes it easy to set expense rules by using two rule levels: Warning and Blocking Rules, and reporting options in Abacus make it easy to create custom reports based on business expenses submitted by employees.
Here are a few more features found in Abacus that you may appreciate.
GPS mileage tracking
Abacus includes a Mileage Calculator that can be enabled to track mileage using the standard mileage reimbursement rate or a different rate you specify.
Abacus includes a mileage calculator that uses the default mileage reimbursement rate identified during product setup. Image source: Author
The Mileage Calculator can be used on your mobile app or your desktop. The Mileage Calculator, used with Google Maps, does not track the miles traveled but instead will calculate the reimbursement amount based on the number of miles traveled.
Abacus offers complete expense policy administration, with a Rule Builder feature included in the application, making it easy for you to set up company rules and determine the type of policy violation that should be attached to each rule. Rules can be set as a requirement, a budget, or a time limit. You can set up an unlimited number of rules in Abacus, with two main types of rules available:
- Warning rules: Warning rules are highlighted in yellow and are designed to warn an employee about a possible violation, providing an opportunity to edit an expense before submitting it.
- Blocking rules: Blocking rules are highlighted in red. When a blocking rule violation occurs, Abacus will not allow the expense to be submitted but does provide the submitter with details on the rule being violated.
You can create two types of rules in Abacus to help keep employees on track when submitting expenses. Image source: Author
Any expense submitted that violates a warning rule will be displayed on the admin dashboard, where you can take any corrective action or return the submission to the employee for editing.
Submissions can also be routed to a specific approver based on the type of rule. For instance, a rule concerning the budget may be routed to accounting, whereas a rule about time limits may be routed to a direct supervisor for approval.
Abacus includes a receipts folder that allows your employees to submit receipts at any time, storing the receipts until they can be attached to a specific expense report.
The receipts folder displays all receipts currently stored in the folder. Image source: Author
Receipts can be submitted in a variety of ways, including using the Abacus Mobile App, which allows you to snap a photo, enter some basic information, and submit the receipt directly to Abacus. You can also email receipts to Abacus, or upload them directly into the application.
You can also forward a copy of a receipt to [emailprotected] where they will be automatically added to the receipt folder. Finally, the Upload Receipts button allows you to upload any receipt or document directly into the Abacus receipts folder, with PDF, JPG, and PNG files all supported in the application.
The mobile app in Abacus supports iOS and Android smartphones and can be downloaded directly from the iOS and Android app stores. Login credentials on the mobile app are the same as those used to log into the application on your desktop or laptop.
The Abacus mobile app offers an easy way to submit expenses from anywhere. Image source: Author
The home screen of the Abacus app displays all pending expenses that are not yet submitted. To snap a photo of a receipt, just click on the camera icon below, sync the mobile app with the web, and the image will appear in your receipts folder, where it can later be attached to a submitted expense. While the mobile app is great for managing receipts, it doesn’t offer any other features or functions.
Credit card transactions
If you or your employees have individual business credit cards, those cards can be attached to their owners in Abacus, which will automatically import all credit card transactions. You can also attach a personal card by clicking on the Add Personal Card button on the right side of the screen.
Abacus can import all of your credit card transactions for easy tracking. Image source: Author
Credit card transactions typically post within 2 to 3 days of purchase. While you should still submit a receipt for any credit card transaction, Abacus will link a submitted receipt with the correct transaction.
Abacus’s ease of use
Abacus tracks a lot of detail without the use of expense reports, but there’s still a lot of manual entry required to submit expenses. Both admins and employees have personal dashboards, where they can access all the features in Abacus, including expenses, unexpensed, trips, receipts, and cards.
Admins will also have access to the submission inbox as well as all pending submissions, while employees have access to the current expense policy from the dashboard as well.
Once you’re ready to submit expenses, just find the matching receipt stored in the receipt folder. Image source: Author
Reimbursable expenses are submitted differently from other expenses, requiring your employee to enter the amount of the expense, the category in which the expense belongs, the date of the expense, and any other details.
They’ll then have to locate and match an uploaded receipt with the expense to be reimbursed, which they can do from either a desktop computer or within the mobile app. As soon as an expense is submitted, it becomes “pending.” As the business owner or admin, you can easily track all pending expenses from your dashboard.
For employees that wish to group expenses, the Trip option is available, which allows your employees (or you) to associate expenses with a specific trip.
Abacus’s pricing starts at $9/month per user, with a minimum of two users required for the Starter plan. The Professional plan was previously priced at $12/month per user but has now gone to custom pricing.
Along with all the features of the Starter plan, the Professional plan includes accrual accounting sync, credit card integration, and an implementation package. However, the Professional plan is billed annually, so you’ll need to pay up front based on the estimated number of plan users you expect for the year.
Abacus offers three plans to suit businesses of any size. Image source: Author
For very large companies with multiple locations and more complex needs, Abacus also offers an Enterprise plan that includes integration with Salesforce, as well as in-person product setup and training, with custom pricing available directly from Abacus. You can also contact Abacus directly to sign up for the free trial.
As a mid-market product, it’s unfortunate that Abacus does not offer telephone support. The Starter plan in Abacus offers only email support and access to the Abacus Knowledgebase, while Professional and Enterprise subscribers have access to the knowledge base as well as both email and live chat support during regular business hours.
Benefits of Abacus
The biggest benefit Abacus offers to its subscribers is the ability to submit an expense immediately for approval and reimbursement. This process alone eliminates the need to submit a cumbersome expense report and guarantees a faster turnaround on reimbursement.
Abacus also includes excellent expense policy management, including the ability to create different levels of expenses, and offers custom reporting and business insights that break down expense categories for a better look at expenses companywide.
Is Abacus Expense a good choice for your business?
If you prefer processing expense reports for your employees, then Abacus Expense is probably not the best choice for your business. But if you’re looking to reduce paperwork, reimburse your employees quickly, and create an expense management policy that works specifically for your business, then Abacus Expense may be worth a second look.