Building an Expenses App on the Power Platform

Expense summary

This post features an example of how an expenses app simplifies the process to submit and approve expense claims via a mobile app.

Submitting expense claims and managing the approvals process often proves time-consuming, especially if this involves a stream of emails, scanned documents and paper receipts.

To simplify this, an expenses mobile PowerApp built on the Power Platform will speed up the entry and handling of these claims. Contact Preact if you would like to find out more and understand how this can be adapted to handle your expense claim processes.

As a PowerApp, expenses data is stored in the Common Data Model bringing this data together and enabling it to be connected with hundreds of data sources including Dynamics 365 and Office 365. 

For this app we've defined two types of expense user:

  • Standard user - has the ability to create, edit and submit expense claims and attach receipts against each item using their phone camera 
  • Approver user - has the ability to approve or reject any claims submitted by all users

Submitting Expense Claims

When a standard user logs in, the Expense Claims section lists their active claims (unsubmitted, submitted or rejected) and a history of their approved claims:

From this screen, a user can:

  • Create a new claim
  • Edit or delete an unsubmitted claim
  • Filter the claims lists by a date range
  • Sort the claims list by date (ascending/descending)

Within each claim, a user is able to enter details of their supporting expenses using different pre-defined expense types, including personal / company car or motorbike mileage. Within the app users are able to: 

  • Log expenses against this claim
  • Attach a receipt to each expense
  • Edit / delete unsubmitted expenses
  • Submit the claim for approval

In this example, an unsubmitted claim of £115.70 consists of 3 expenses:

Unsubmitted expenses

Handling Mileage Expenses

Route functionality automatically calculates the distance and amount due between two postcodes taking into consideration the type of vehicle used and predefined company mileage rates.

Expense routing

Validation Rules

The base build of this app includes a series validations that will enforce expense claim rules. These can be adapted and extended to fit specific organisation requirements.

Standard validations cover these scenarios:

  • Prevent an expense claim being submitted and alert the user if this contains no expenses.
  • Alert the user if an expense date is set in the future but allow the expense to be created and submitted.
  • Prompt users to add comments if a receipt is not added to support an expense claim.
  • Notify users if an expense item exceeds the limit defined by the company but allow the user to create and submit this expense.
  • Prevent claim approvals with a zero amount.

Expense alert

Approving Expenses

When an approver user logs in, they'll see an additional Approvals section.

This lists all submitted claims which are pending approval and from this view, approvers are able to: 

  • View details of each claim including related expenses and receipts
  • Approve or reject claims
  • Overwrite submitted amounts
  • Filter the claims lists by date
  • Sort claims by date (ascending/descending) 
Details of a submitted expenses claim

When an expense claim is processed, the user who submitted the claim will receive an email notification that their expenses were their sanctioned or declined. 

Additional Capabilities Include

  • Have multiple approvers in the system, defined at user level
  • Enable approvers to see their approved claims

Planned Developments

Further functionality will be added as we extend its capabilities. Upcoming features will include:

  • Linking expenses directly to project, booking or order records in Dynamics 365
  • Approver filtered views for approved / declined expense claim lists
  • Expense claim rejection reasons
  • Admin management via mobile app
  • Expense reporting functionality
  • Time-sheets module 
  • Integration with Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation 

If you would like to find out more, including how this app can be extended and adapted to fit your organisation's expense claim processes please get in touch.

RELATED: About PowerApps

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