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ProOnGo Blog

Posts are primarily about QuickBooks, Xero, expense reports, and other topics useful to small business owners, CPAs, and ProAdvisors.


Posts Tagged ‘excel expense report’

Where’s My Excel Expense Report for Those Expenses?

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

The “old world” of tracking expenses via an Excel expense report has millions of small business people trained to think that if expenses are being submitted or approved, that surely there is an Excel expense report that goes with it.

And over the years we’ve built quite a robust feature set around exporting Excel expense reports, all available to you. But only use it if you must: we hope that you never end up using that part of the product.

Why? Because new age expense reports really should be wholly managed via web-based workflow, never landing in and Excel expense report.

Excel Expense Report? That’s the “Old Way”

If your company uses ProOnGo to manage expenses, and you find yourself looking for your Excel expense report, we hope that you’ll call off the search for that report and instead simply submit your expense report to your manager using our web-based workflow. Just checkmark your expenses, then go to Bulk Actions → Submit all Selected:

Filing an Expense Report
Filing an Expense Report

…then, give your expense report a friendly name, and submit:

Naming Your Expense Report
Naming Your Expense Report

If you follow those steps, your manager ends up with those expenses showing as ‘Submitted’, so that he/she can approve via web, without ever opening Excel.

It’s Not That We Dislike Excel

It’s not that we dislike Excel. It’s simply that if you are already following a web-based workflow, an Excel report of those expenses becomes a duplicate, unnecessary business process… a burden and an extra step to manage.

On a side note, it’s for that reason that our welcome wizard now makes it very easy to consciously decide that you don’t need any Excel based expense reports at all:

Welcome Wizard - Excel Expense Report Unnecessary
Welcome Wizard – Excel Expense Report Unnecessary

Little UI cues like this are just our little way of starting to “nudge” you more and more to rely on the web-based workflow than on any legacy-style Excel expense report.

Update Your Excel Expense Report Templates like a Pro

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Is your Excel expense report template already uploaded to ProOnGo, to be filled in magically with your credit card transactions, time, and mileage? I hope so. Our features on this front have improved dramatically in the past year, and there are getting to be very few excuses to justify manually filling out an Excel expense report.

Seriously, if you are manually filling out your Excel expense report, please reach out to us so that we can help you break the habit.

Excel Expense Reports – How Times Change

As more and more people use our feature for filling out customized Excel expense reports, we’re starting to hear from people that want to make the most minor of formatting changes to the template itself. Perhaps something as simple as resizing a column, changing the background color on a few cells, or modernizing a PNG of their logo embedded in the spreadsheet.

Until recently, our best answer was to re-upload the revised format, and configure it the same way as the old one. It’s safe to say that for even the most complex formats, that’s no more than 15 minutes of work, but it still didn’t sit well with us. We don’t like you spending time on overhead tasks instead of getting back to serving your customers.

So, we set out to add a few “power user” tricks for those of you that want to make incremental changes to your templates.

Getting Your Unfilled Template

It might have been months, or perhaps almost a year, since you originally uploaded your Excel expense report to ProOnGo. So, it’s possible that you don’t even have a local copy of your template anymore (hurray — you are cloud savvy!). To retrieve the unfilled template that you originally uploaded to ProOnGo, sign into the web app, then go to

You’ll land at a page that shows you thumbnails of all of your pre-existing Excel expense report templates. Click on whichever one you want to modify:

Find Your Existing Template
Find Your Existing Template

Then, click on the “Gears” menu, and choose “Download Unfilled Template”:

Excel Expense Report Template - Download
Excel Expense Report Template – Download

Next, open your unfilled template in Excel, and make whatever modifications you need to do. Beware, if your modifications involve changing layouts, merging cells, or re-arranging tables or content, you probably need to do a full/fresh upload. However, if you simply need to change a few styles here and there, then continue on with these time-saving steps. Make your modifications in Excel and save to your local drive:

Excel Expense Report Template - Modifying
Excel Expense Report Template – Modifying

Then, upload the modified XLSX via the “Replace XLSX” menu item:

Excel Expense Report Template - Re-Upload
Excel Expense Report Template – Re-Upload

You should see a preview that now reflects the style changes that you made in Excel a moment ago.

Excel Expense Report Template - Successfully Revised
Excel Expense Report Template – Successfully Revised

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve now successfully replaced your Excel expense report template, while still maintaining all other aspects of the way that you had previously configured it (i.e. which expense reporting data should flow into each region of the spreadsheet).

Wanted: Excel Expense Report “Power Users”

Thanks to all of our Excel expense report power users who push us to make improvements like this — it’s our pleasure to learn the intricate expense reporting processes that you live with day-in-and-day-out. We’re here to find ways to get that overhead time down to almost nothing.

Excel Expense Reports – Saying Goodbye to The Old Way

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

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:

  1. 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).
  2. Unarchive the .ZIP file, and browse to the docProps folder, and find core.xml.
  3. 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):

ProOnGo Sends to Both QuickBooks and Excel!

The 3 Types of Excel Expense Report Templates

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Over the past two years, since we’ve been integrating company Excel Expense Reports into our expense tracking app, we started noticing a pattern in the types of formats we saw. These patterns have really helped us hone our development to adapting new spreadsheets and integrating them into ProOnGo Expense. They also made us realize that it was possible to create a wizard where end-users can upload their template and  and that’s why we came up with the Custom Expense Report Wizard — where users can upload their Excel expense report format  and, after choosing what fields should be filled in, have their spreadsheet integrated into ProOnGo within minutes.

However, before you use our wizard, we should mention the main format types we support. Below, I’m going to show you the three most common types of expense reports we receive. If your Excel Expense Report format isn’t anything like what you see below, then it’s time to get a new report format!

Excel Expense Report Format #1


The identifying characteristic of this spreadsheet is that all of the labels reside in a single row at the top of the spreadsheet. In our experience, this is the most common Excel report format. It easily allows for additional rows and isn’t restricted by a date range.


Excel Expense Report Format #2



This report is characterized by the limited date range in the first column and the expense report categories listed in the top row. This spreadsheet is generally designed for weekly reports, so if you’d like to include expenses for more than just one week at a time, I suggest you use Excel Expense Report Format #1.


Excel Expense Report Format #3



The last type of report is extremely similar to Excel Expense Report Format #2, only the dates reside at the top of the spreadsheet, and the expense categories use the first column. Again, if you’re looking to fit more than 7 days worth of expense information, then Excel Expense Report Format #1 is the spreadsheet for you.

In our Custom Expense Report Wizard, we’ll ask you to choose between these three spreadsheets, and some minor variations on them (like using MM/DD/YYYY format instead of using the day of the week). Once you select your report format, it’s only a couple clicks from being able to export your expenses to your own Excel Expense Report template! [Update 11/10/2012: We now support sending your expense reports to Google Drive, too. So you can keep a tidy backup of all of the reports you run from ProOnGo.]

Of course, if you have any questions, you’re more than welcome to shoot an email to and we’ll integrate the spreadsheet for you.

252,000 Excel Expense Report Templates

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Today, the day that we launch our new toolset for exporting expenses into virtually any kind of Excel template, in a rare moment of downtime I decided to search Google to see how many unique Excel expense report templates I could find. We all know that with so many webmasters jockeying for position in the search results, there are going to be some unrelated results that show up, but the sheer fact that Google returns 252,000 for an exact phrase search on “Expense Report Templates” should tell you something:

How did that many templates come into existence? Well, from experience at ProOnGo, I can tell you that most of the expense templates that our clients send in, are ones where the client can’t even fully explain the origin. The story usually goes something like this: “My boss gave me this spreadsheet the day I joined the company. He didn’t know where it came from either, he just knows that it’s what we’ve always used. He’s guessing that our Founder created it from scratch 12 years ago when we hired our first outbound sales team. Truth be told, we use QuickBooks now, so I’m not quite sure why we need an Excel spreadsheet for expense reports – but it’s the way we’ve always done it.”

I’m paraphrasing, of course, but it’s the basic storyline told dozens (hundreds?) of times to our support staff, by customers eager to find a way to automate the process of filling out their expense reports. So, what’s a small business person to do, in that situation? If your company is more than a few people, it’s probably a matter of driving consensus that it’s finally time to ditch the spreadsheet at move fully to web and mobile-based expense reporting, integrated to QuickBooks via Intuit’s cloud, all at Since it might take some time to get all of the approvals to make that move, we’ll do “one better” for you. We’ll give you a way to “hang on” to your old process, while simultaneously getting started with web and mobile expense reporting and cloud-based QuickBooks connectivity.

Here’s how it works (after the video, come find us for setup steps to get started):

Update 11/20/2012: We now support sending expense reports to Google Drive, as well. That way you can keep a tidy backup of all of your filled out expense reports in one place.

Excel Expense Reports in Your Format

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Excel expense reports come in all shapes and sizes. Over the years we’ve seen a dazzling variety of layouts, header formats, footer cells, and everything in between. And, we’ve seen tons of solutions on the market that claim to ‘integrate with Excel’, only to find out that most of them export just to a single fixed-style of spreadsheet, or one with very limited configuration options.

At ProOnGo, we’re different. We let you upload your exact Excel spreadsheet file, and then we help you setup ProOnGo to fill in precisely the cells that you want (Updated 11/20/2012: you can even send to Google Drive). Want to know how it works? Check out this video:

ProOnGo Supports Your Custom Excel Reports – Try It!

Your Excel Expense Reports Get Much Easier in 7 Days

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Excel Expense ReportsCompany-specific Excel expense report templates tend to arrive in the ProOnGo support inbox by the dozen.  Over the years, we’ve seen some real record-breakers:

  • A format (the company shall remain nameless of course) that has employees filling out 31 header fields about everything imaginable, before even getting to the normal grunt work of filling in expense dates, merchants, and amounts!
  • A format that has 14 separate, distinct, color-coded tables on the front tab, each of which have their own unique purpose.
  • A user that generated an expense report containing 681 5MPX receipt images, in tabs alongside their custom spreadsheet front page.  (we’re glad we send links to reports, not attachments!)

If the expense report format that your boss gave you is any less burdensome then above, count yourself as a fortunate expense filer, and either way, don’t be shy in writing to support @ saying “could you add the attached expense template as a report style, just for me?”

Our answer has been “Yes to All”

If you’ve seen the movie Bruce Almighty, you might remember the scene where he has a mountain of email requests to answer, and he presses a button that says “Yes To All”.  That’s a little bit like what we’ve been doing when you send us your custom spreadsheet formats and ask us to add them.1  Granted, it’s had its challenges:  every format is different, it’s not just a matter of making something that “looks a little like your format”, it’s got to be the real deal: your exact spreadsheet format with the cells filled in correctly.  And that means custom code.  That might “sound expensive” – but we’ve never charged more than a $50 flat fee for an excel report integration (which we hear is a heck of a good deal).

1Unlike Bruce, we had to say “no” two times. You’d sympathize with us (and with the customer) if you saw the spreadsheets in question.

You Asked For More

Our Yes to All approach has worked pretty well.  Every week the number of ProOnGo Expense users with custom spreadsheet formats grows, and that can only mean one thing: we’re helping you bring order to the chaos of your company’s hand-crafted Excel spreadsheet template.  However, you’ve asked for more.  We’ve heard your requests for:

  • Faster turnaround time in integrating updates into our system, when you send us an updated template due to some change that your company makes to the spreadsheet format
  • Ways to send simultaneously to Excel and QuickBooks, so that over time you can make the case that the data is landing where it needs to in QuickBooks, and that the spreadsheet format is becoming unnecessary duplicate archive.
  • Ways to see the possibilities, of what data fields we have, and what flexibility we have in terms of where the ProOnGo data fields end up in your spreadsheet.  You’ve asked tirelessly, “can you put this field from ProOnGo into that cell in my spreadsheet?”, and our new solution will give you much better visibility into that.

All of the above is “on the way”, and much, much more.  We’ve got some really big announcements for our custom expense report users, 7 days from now, that answer all of the above questions and hopefully anticipate the next questions that were on the tip of your tongue.

Want to be the first to see the announcements that we’ve got in store?  Drop your email address in here, to get a notification when we make the announcement about the big improvements in store for our Excel expense reports functionality: