Recording traveling expenses can be one the most frustrating aspects of the business traveler's busy life on the road. Restaurant bills, train tickets, hotel receipts; they all have to be accurately accounted for.
This can be a time consuming chore, but an array of high-tech devices have hit the market with the aim of simplifying the process.
According to Duncan Bell, operations editor of tech magazine T3, receipt scanners and, to a greater extent, smartphone apps, are the main drivers of these developments.
"Technology has made quite major changes in terms of how people do their expenses -- particularly in larger companies," Bell says.
"Whereas before it was inevitably hand written, and then later typed into a spreadsheet, which involved bringing expenses into the office, now it can be done on the fly on a variety of different technologies," he adds.
Bell took a look at some of the most prominent products that are streamlining the expenses process.
The Planon Slimscan is a pocket-sized scanner that enables users to record small receipts, business cards and all manner of other expenses-related paperwork.
It's a device that looks "impressive" and is easy to carry around, says Bell.
Given its diminutive size, however, the Planon Slimscan is unable to scan larger items of paperwork, such as hotel or taxi receipts, he adds.
"They're not actually physically wide enough to actually scan them (larger paperwork) in," Bell says.
"(It's) something that you produce with a flourish from your wallet ... but is overshadowed by the usability element," he concludes.
Epson WorkForce DS-30
A much larger device that aims to cater for receipts both large and small is the Epson WorkForce DS-30.
This portable scanner is still relatively lightweight but definitely something you would "put in your luggage rather than your wallet," says Bell.
The extra bulk and size enables users to digitize larger pieces of paper up to A4 size. According to Bell, however, recording small receipts and most "expenses-related things" doesn't require such high quality or precision technology.
"They are nice pieces of hardware, but maybe not the perfect solution for (recording expenses)," he says.
The NeatReceipts scanner is a slim and lightweight device that its makers say can scan receipts, business cards and documents of all sizes to produce electronic files that are stored in a "digital filing cabinet."
Despite overcoming the difficulties posed by documents of differing dimensions, Bell says NeatReceipts isn't as efficient as it could be.
He describes the technology as similar to the prospect of flying cars -- "a nice idea but (one that) never actually quite works" -- because of the scanner's propensity to misread entries on receipts.
"You have to think of it more as a means of scanning the receipt and then you changing the various mistakes," he adds. "If you are expecting this to do your accounts for you -- well it ain't -- but it will help."
The Concur app is one of the many smartphone software programs now on the market. Bell says apps will likely be the future of expense-recording devices.
"They basically do the same job as scanner-based solutions ... and (are) capable of putting (expenses) in a format that is useable by your accounts department," he explains.