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Expense Plus

A justifiable expense for today's road warrior

One of the most annoying aspects of any business trip occurs when you return to the office. It's the time you spend filling out the expense report. Actually, it's the time you spend searching for all those receipts. How much was that hotel stay in Duluth? That dinner in Newark? What did I do with that last cab receipt from London? This task might be somewhat easier if you'd taken the time to fill in the information in your Palm. Now you're saying, "I tried that Expense application that came with the Palm, but it just does not measure up."

Well, my fellow road warriors, your prayers have been answered. Enter ExpensePlus from WalletWare, Inc. These folks have taken expense tracking on the Palm to the next level.

Entering Expenses

The first thing that strikes you is the user interface. It's easy to understand and use. ExpensePlus uses icons, in addition to printed words, to describe expense categories. First things first, however. You should head to the Preferences section before doing the first report. Under General, you want to identify yourself as an International Traveler if applicable. More about that later. You can also enter such items as your personal info (name, address, etc.), account numbers and your payment source information. Now you're ready to create a report.

First, tap at the top of the ExpensePlus screen. You now enter the report title, along with optional information like location and business purpose. These fields have pull down menus that give you possible choices. If your choice is not there, you can enter it manually. I would have preferred more default choices, but I won't hold this against them. Now, let's hit the road and fill in a few expense items.

If you're flying, you'll be need to enter the airfare. Tap "Fares" on the main screen (the plane icon) and you get a typical data entry screen, called an Expense Slip. In addition to the standard info like date and amount, you have a description field. This also offers a pull-down menu with choices like airline names. Here, the program offers a neat little feature. Let's say you travel to New York on a regular basis. To save data entry strokes, you can add this "to New York" to the pull-down menu options. Then when you enter the description, you first enter the airline from the pull down menu. Using the pull-down menu again, tap "to New York". It is automatically entered after the airline name. You can also specify payment source, expense type (business or personal) and if multiple clients are involved, to which client the expense applies.

Now your at your destination, you take a cab to your hotel. Tap "Taxi" on the main screen. You get the same basic data entry screen as you did for Fares. However, when you go to enter a description, the pull-down menu contains items for this category. This is the case with all of the categories. You simply repeat the steps as outlined for each expense item. It is obvious that WalletWare did a lot of research in the design of ExpensePlus.

Currency Converter

If you're returning from an international business trip, you have the added hassle of dealing with foreign currencies. Well, ExpensePlus has you covered. If you specified "International Traveler" in the Preferences section, you get a built in currency converter. It even supports conversion in different currencies on the same trip report. Perfect if you're visiting several countries on the same trip. What a great feature!

So you've completed filling out the expense data slips. Now, how do you get it to your PC? ExpensePlus has you covered. First, they include several predefined expense report templates that you, and perhaps everyone in your company, can use. Next, WalletWare will design a custom link to your company's expense form. Support for many companies' custom forms is already available - see the WalletWare web site for details. Finally, they have also designed the software to output in a format that can be read by Microsoft Access and Excel on Windows, or FileMaker Pro and Microsoft Excel on the Mac.

I could go on and on. I have not discussed the ability to beam expense reports between Palm units. Or with a single command, you can duplicate an expense report to save data entry time. Or how the icons animate when you tap them. In all, a great program that every business traveler should check out. US $69.95 1-800-640-2068

-Michael Steinberg

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