Excel Expense Reports – Saying Goodbye to The Old Way
We talk to a lot of “new hires” in small businesses. Over the years I wouldn’t say that’s because we’ve particularly sought out conversations with the newest members of a team, but rather it’s because they tend to be the folks who look at an antiquated excel expense reports with “fresh eyes” and say, “there just has to be a better way”. Maybe it’s also because new team members are sometimes the ones that are most eager to show their unique value to the company.
Occasionally we’ll get into a conversation with someone who is trying to untangle the history of how their company’s custom Excel expense report template even came to exist in the first place. Perhaps it’s because they want to make a point to the company owner saying ‘you know, this expense process has been this way since 2001, and there are some much better tools that have come about in the past 11 years, want me to bring it up to pace?’. For those of you trying to make that case, here’s a fun (and maybe useful) trick for you:
- Rename your company’s .XSLX excel expense report to a .ZIP. Excel spreadsheets created or saved since 2007 are almost always .XLSX, and that means that they are really .ZIP files. If yours is still an .XLS, open it in a modern version of Excel, then save as .XLSX (the rest of the steps will work fine after that).
- Unarchive the .ZIP file, and browse to the docProps folder, and find core.xml.
- Open core.xml. Depending on your system, that file might open in a browser, or a text editor, or perhaps even an app more specialized for viewing XML files. Search for “dcterms:created”, and then look a little further right. What’s this? It’s the timestamp of when the Excel expense report was originally created. So in this case, it’s an Excel file that was originally created on March 11, 2003.
So, now you know how to find out exactly how long ago your Excel expense report template was created, so you can accurately say “this thing is from 2003 – time to modernize!”
You might want to think about ditching Excel altogether and filing your time, mileage, and receipts directly into QuickBooks via ProOnGo Expense. However, if your organization is hanging on to that old expense report format because it’s “tried and true”, help them along by setting up ProOnGo Expense to send to QuickBooks and Excel simultaneously (keeping the “old guard” satisfied with Excel, while modernizing to get that data into QuickBooks in a speedy, cloud-based, secure manner):