If a cash report or a calendar can be sent out via e-mail, why can't an expense report be sent the same way? Most employees are well acquainted with database and spreadsheet applications. At Collectech Systems, a $12 million collection agency in Calabasas, Calif., Chris Murphy, a regional manager, tinkered around with Excel (Microsoft, 800-426-9400) and created a simple electronic expense form that everyone now files by e-mail.

Murphy's form, which is just a spreadsheet wearing a little makeup, handles all the computations automatically and goes by e-mail directly to the right people. It shaved two weeks off the reimbursement process. "The reports are legible, so they reduce error and take less time to check," says Britt Johnson, the accountant who cuts the checks. "We can turn one around in a few days." What about snafus or lost reports? "We have fewer problems since people started filing them electronically."

"At the company where I worked before this one," recalls Murphy, "you'd want to kill yourself, waiting for those checks. It could take six to eight weeks. But here the company is not using the float on its employees," he says. "And that makes a difference to us."