Research cost tracking
October 13, 2010 9:47 AM   Subscribe

My research group currently tracks our expenses (for lab supplies, travel, etc.) by printing copies of receipts and then manually tallying them in an Excel spreadsheet. Can anyone recommend a web service that will make this process easier? We'd prefer something free (or self-hosted), but are open to low-cost options as well.

Ideally we'd like a program that will allow us to scan PDF invoices and automatically import data--however, we are willing to settle for a program that allows us to manually enter itemized expenses. We have multiple users and would like to give them all access to the system. Can anyone recommend such a service?
posted by Aanidaani to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you can't find an appropriate service, using a shared spreadsheet (Google Docs) would at least solve your multiple access problem.
posted by ripley_ at 9:51 AM on October 13, 2010

Response by poster: Yeah, I had thought about doing that. It would be nice to have a web app to aggregate everything and wrap it in a pretty interface, though. :-)
posted by Aanidaani at 9:57 AM on October 13, 2010 has been around for a while, and I found it useful for tracking expenses and loans between housemates. No fancy scanning/OCR - just manual entry - but it can handle different transactions, splitting things, accounting for one when person has fronted the full expenses of more things than others, etc.
posted by mjb at 10:04 AM on October 13, 2010

It might be more of an application than you're looking for, but might be up your alley.
posted by Alt F4 at 11:46 AM on October 13, 2010

Xpenser? No PDF recognition, but you can mail in expenses from any registered address (solving your "multiple users" problem).
posted by gene_machine at 11:50 AM on October 13, 2010

Take a look at what David Pogue of the New York Times uses, he uses a receipt scanner that has its own software called Neat Receipts. As he describes, the scanner actually pulls the information from the receipts.
posted by bove at 1:13 PM on October 13, 2010

I have a Neat Receipts scanner and it's pretty awesome. You can scan receipts (even those teeny cash register ones) and any other document. It recognizes receipts and grabs the details from that, putting them into a database. It can't recognize everything 100% but it does a pretty good job and saves a ton of data entry time. Even it if gets it wrong, the receipt is scanned in as an image (quite high quality) and it's easy to correct it. It also learns categories, so if you always categorize something from, say, Safeway as "groceries" it will always put it under that. You can add, edit, remove categories as well.

Then it just outputs your data into a spreadsheet if you want. I thought it was a kind of interesting little idea but it's pretty impressive in action and not that expensive (~$200 for the basic scanner and software).

I'm not sure how this would work in a networked environment though. The scanner is a physical item so that would have to be somewhere central.
posted by marylynn at 8:50 PM on October 13, 2010

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