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Expense Management vs. SaaS Spend Management: What’s the Difference?

by | Oct 29, 2023

With the rate technology is growing each year, businesses are relying more and more on software and applications to automate processes and create more efficient workflows. It’s easy to get confused when you are searching for a software solution for a specific problem. This blog discusses the differences between expense management and SaaS spend management, two extremely useful applications that handle very separate concerns.

What is expense management?

Expense management is the crucial process of reporting, submitting, approving, reimbursing, and auditing employee-initiated business expenses. This includes everything from recurring operating expenses to employee perks. Businesses that seek to optimize their operations and reduce costs need to find a way to manage employees’ use of their resources without compromising efficiency.

Why is expense management important?

It takes considerable time to manage expenses. Without proper guidelines and policies in place, this can be a complex process. Your organization could save money by identifying unnecessary expenses and properly monitoring employee spend.

Approving and reimbursing expenses can be a tedious job for accounts payable while accurate reporting and analysis of employee-initiated expenses helps keep spending within budget. An automated expense management software streamlines every aspect of expense management to minimize the risks associated with traditional expense management.

Manually managing expenses

While it is possible to manually manage employee expenses, the process is tedious with many steps and much paperwork. Traditional expense reporting and reimbursement relies on manual data entry, a far more time-consuming process than automated software.

Additionally, manual expense management is more prone to human errors, requiring additional labor from the accounting department to correct any mistakes found along the way. Accounting teams struggle with a lack of visibility and these errors can have serious consequences, including expense fraud, missing reimbursements, or duplicate expenses.

Expense management software

Expense management software simplifies the reimbursement process for employees through automation. It relieves both employers and accountants from unnecessary stress. Businesses can easily manage travel bookings, reimbursements, and track expense claims in real-time. It’s a far more efficient and accurate way to track spending, ensuring each employee complies with the company’s expense policies.

Key features of expense management include:

  • Organized receipt management
  • Enforced travel policies
  • Streamlined approvals
  • Quicker reimbursements
  • Data analytics

Manual reporting simply isn’t efficient nowadays. While expense management software expedites the process, it shouldn’t be confused with SaaS spend management software, which automates a separate workflow. Below, SaaS spend management is explained in further detail.

What is SaaS spend management?

SaaS spend management is the process of monitoring and tracking software subscriptions to better manage and optimize their costs. Unlike expense management, which focuses on processing employee-requested business expenses, SaaS spend management tracks the organization’s spending and usage of SaaS applications. This tracking includes uncovering all SaaS applications used at the organization, shedding light on unused software, and reevaluating currently used applications to uncover the best value.

The main goal of SaaS spend management is to reduce the cost of SaaS. Current processes often have SaaS contracts tracked in a spreadsheet. Unfortunately, relying on manual processes for this is tedious and more error-prone. SaaS spend management platforms simplify SaaS spend optimization by tracking software licenses, uncovering unused or redundant applications, and increasing overall transparency into a company’s tech stack.

SaaS Spend Management Guide

SaaS spend management software

When software applications are in use by employees, it’s important they are used correctly and according to the policies established by the organization for information security. You cannot manage what you cannot see. SaaS spend management software manages and monitors Software-as-a-Service procurement, subscriptions, licenses, usage, and costs.

Benefits of using SaaS spend management software include:

  • Maintaining compliance
  • Identifying shadow IT
  • Improving data protection
  • Reducing costs

Handling contracts and invoices manually can be complex. SaaS management platforms help centralize contract data, automatically discover subscriptions, protect sensitive data, and provide insights regarding usage.


While expense management software and SaaS spend management software both monitor business expenses, there is a key difference in what those expenses are. Expense management focuses on employee-initiated business expenses, such as employee travel, while SaaS management focuses on the software applications used throughout the organization. Of course, in both cases, software helps streamline the workflow and saves the finance and IT teams time and money.

For more information on SaaS management solutions, check out Stackshine, LeaseQuery’s SaaS spend management platform. Stackshine helps unlock savings and insights by tracking your software subscriptions in one complete platform.

SaaS Management Software

SaaS Spend Management Guide