Why We Built This Feature
Expense management software often forces finance teams into a “Tyranny of the OR” situation, requiring them to choose between the lesser of two evils: I can optimize for the best employee experience, OR I can optimize around the best experience for my accounting team.
A typical scenario where this issue pops up involves capturing important expense data, like project, location, and client. For example, your organization may have hundreds of projects going on. Employees will usually recognize a project like “Jamesville Building Project,” but your ERP system will usually associate that project with some sort of code like “1533.”
Organizations that optimize for the employee experience will use familiar names in expense report forms to make it easier for employees to track their spending. The accounting team then has to “translate” those names into the account codes used in their ERP, using lookup spreadsheets and macros, which takes time and creates errors.
On the other hand, some organizations use the ERP codes to track projects, asking employees to keep track of project codes when filling out expense reports. This makes it easy on accounting, but it can create errors and confusion from employees. This adds one more obstacle to employees completing accurate, timely expense reports.
The dilemma organizations face is clear: do you force your employees to memorize the project codes so finance can easily export financial data compatible with your GL or do you allow your employees to select a friendly name but then force accounting create and maintain manual work-arounds to exporting your expenses to your ERP? Do you create an easier employee expense reporting process or do you optimize for accounting efficiency?
With Center, you can have the best of both worlds. We’re excited to announce the availability of Mapping Fields, which allows you to display familiar names for projects, locations, clients, and any other custom field to spenders, while giving you the finance administrator control over how those names map to your GL accounting codes.
Employees will always see the familiar name when submitting expenses, keeping the expense process simple and free of errors.
Employees submitting expenses on the Center mobile app will see familiar fields like "Project Name," for example, instead of project codes or numbers.
Accounting teams will be able to match to the familiar names to official accounting codes. Say goodbye to Excel lookup tables and macros. The data flows accurately into your ERP, streamlining accounting, accelerating month-end close, and reducing the chance of introducing manual errors.
Mapping fields lets finance administrators identify which Project Name used by employees in Center Expense is associated with which Project Code in their accounting software, eliminating the need to manipulate the data as an intermediary step.
Center also makes it easy to maintain your mappings. Our bulk upload feature allows you to update your mappings in aggregate whenever you need to make changes. No need to add mapping rules one-by-one; you can add thousands of list items and mapping rules at once so your expense system always matches your financial system.
Our goal is to eliminate the need to manipulate data outside of Center Expense. Whether you’re using our Integrations Platform or a CSV to update your ERP, your expenses reflect accurately in your financial system without the Excel macro headaches.
For a detailed look at these features in action, check out our Mapping Fields video.
Nik Singh is Center’s vice president of product management. He and his team are working on new ways to streamline, automate, and optimize the entire expense management process, from spending and expensing through closing the books and analyzing data.