The only way to deliver a successful business project is to closely monitor the costs throughout the whole process. 

There’s nothing worse than producing a brilliant project on time, only to discover too late that you’ve gone way over budget.

Thankfully, there is project expense tracking apps and software to help project managers stay on track and within their designated budget. 

The key is finding the best one for your business model.

What is project expense tracking software?

Project expense tracking software is a technology that keeps track of how much a project costs. 

This includes all of the expenses that go into completing and successfully delivering a project that a business has worked on for a client. 

Some of the expenses that the software typically tracks are labor costs, material, travel expenses, capital expenditures, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Project expense tracking apps and software will typically monitor labor costs with a time tracking feature, create and assign project tasks, calculate travel costs with the use of a mileage tracker, generate real-time reports, import bank transactions, categorize expenses, and set up project budgets to compare actual costs.

Turn expense receipts into data for tax time ✨

Try Shoeboxed’s systematic award-winning approach to receipt tracking for tax season. Try free for 30 days!

Get Started Today
   

How can project expense tracker apps and software help project managers?

There are many reasons why project managers use project and expense information tracker apps and software. 

Below are some benefits of using the apps and software to track project expenses.

1. Makes tracking expenses a much more efficient and transparent process

Overall, expense tracker apps and software make tracking expenses a much more efficient process. 

They save a tremendous amount of time and frustration versus doing everything manually. 

Also, with an online system, it’s less likely that there will be human errors or that things will fall through the cracks.

2. Makes it easier to revisit budgets

Sometimes budget management involves a lot of re-forecasting to help keep project expenses on track. 

Revisiting your budget often helps keep things from getting too far off track during the process. 

The sooner you spot these warning signs, the quicker you can prevent the train from totally derailing.

Revenue forecasting software makes it easier to revisit your budget and monitor your expenses. It also streamlines the process by creating and updating budget forecasts automatically.

3. Real-time tracking data keeps everything updated and accurate

Project expense tracker apps and software provide real-time updates. This means you will know down to the moment when you go over your budget. 

The best part is that you will not have to spend all of that time crunching numbers to determine something that the software or app can determine in a matter of seconds.

4. Accessible from anywhere at anytime

One of the biggest advantages of having project expense tracker apps and software online is that you can keep track of your project planning and budget from anywhere, whether it’s at home, at the office, or while traveling.

How we evaluated project expense tracker apps and software

We examined project expense tracker apps and software that were tailored to project managers based on an independent assessment methodology.

The software and apps were useful to project managers based on their features, cost, and integration capabilities.

Questions to ask when choosing project expense tracking software

  • Is the project expense tracking software appropriate based on the size of my business and the number of users?

  • Does the expense tracking software support multiple projects?

  • Does the project expense tracking software have the features I need?

  • Does the price of the project expense tracking software fall within my budget?

  • Is the project expense tracking software desktop based or cloud-based?

  • Does the expense tracking software come with an app?

  • Is the expense tracking software user-friendly?

  • Is the expense tracking software easy to set up?

  • Will I have to pay extra for any of the features I need or want?

  • Does the project expense tracking software integrate with any of my other accounting tools?

How to choose project expense tracking software and apps

As a project manager, there are several things you will want to look for when choosing your project expense-tracking software and apps.

Some of these include the following:

1. Cost estimation tool

The cost estimation tool will estimate the cost of the project initially. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as through the use of data from prior projects.

2. Actual cost tracking tool

The actual project cost tracking tool is a feature that alerts you when you get close to reaching the budget limits of a project or sends regular updates on the budget and expenses.

3. Reporting and analysis tools

Reporting and analysis tools help you see where your own project’s expenses and budget are going and if they are aligning with one another. 

If not, they are indications of what needs to be fixed and why.

4. Productivity monitoring

Productivity monitoring is a feature that gauges the workflow of a project. 

It makes sure that team members are staying focused and meeting the milestones and deadlines of a project.

5. Time tracking

Time-tracking features are tools that track hours spent working on a specific project. 

Your team should be able to capture their time with the dedicated app and you should be able to see their time individually and collectively based on the project.

What are the best project expense tracking options in 2023?

1. Hubstaff – Best overall

Hubstaff is an all-around great tool for everything from invoicing to scheduling

Hubstaff is an all-around great tool for everything from invoicing to scheduling

Hubstaff offers a little bit of everything. 

Along with its cost management, Hubstaff offers productivity tools, invoicing, payroll, scheduling features, a profile of employees’ online activity, and competitive pricing.

Hubstaff stands out in the crowd with its many team and project management tools and advanced budgeting features. 

With their project management software, you can set budget limits based on cost or time. As the project’s budget reaches its limit, you will be notified so that adjustments can be made. 

You can also set weekly limits to keep team members from driving up the cost of the project.

Pricing:

  • Desk Free: $0 for one user

  • Desk Starter: $5.83 per user/month, starting at $140, and includes 2 users

  • Desk Pro: $8.33 per user/month, starting at $200, and includes 2 users

  • Enterprise: Customized plan

  • Free 14-day trial

2. Zoho Projects – Most affordable

You could say Zoho Projects is the most affordable because it’s free, but even with the paid plans, there are some really nice features for the price.

Zoho Projects features a project dashboard that displays how your projects are progressing. 

The dashboard includes reports that show the project budget, team status, overdue work, and the status of issues and tasks.

You can forecast the total estimated cost of a project based on planned costs, actual costs, and its current percentage completion.

You can plan costs and avoid going over your budget by calculating the planned and actual costs of the project based on the rate per hour for each project or the rates of the specific user.

You can also compare planned vs actual values of schedule, cost, and time to effectively measure performance and predict project parameters.

Pricing:

  • Free: $0 for 2 projects and up to 3 users

  • Premium: $5 per user/month with unlimited projects and 20 project templates

  • Enterprise: $10 per user/month with unlimited projects and 30 project templates

  • Free 10-day trial

Zoho Projects – The complete project management software by Zoho Projects

3. Shoeboxed – Best for receipt management

Shoeboxed's official homepage

Shoeboxed tracks expenses from business receipts

When tracking project expenses, it’s essential to have an effective receipt management solution. 

Shoeboxed is the go-to app for scanning receipts. 

Their mobile phone app supports unlimited users and allows access business expenses on the go. You can have as many users as needed using the app to scan receipts.

No more going through the receipts one by one to find information about a cost. Once the receipt is loaded into the system, there is a robust search feature for reading the receipt. 

There’s also a feature that organizes the expense categories so that expenses can be filtered by project. This is especially beneficial for businesses with multiple teams and projects.

Shoeboxed is great for tracking expenses by project. You can create tagged categories with the name of the project and expense category.

All of the expenses can be pulled into a dashboard and the categories can be used to track expenses.

Pricing:

  • Start Up: $18/month (save 20% if paid annually)

  • Professional: $36/month (save 20% if paid annually)

  • Business: $54/month (save 20% if paid annually)

  • 30-day free trial

Break free from manual data entry ✨

Use Shoeboxed’s Magic Envelope to ship off your receipts and get them back as scanned data in a private, secure cloud-based account. 📁 Try free for 30 days!

Get Started Today

4. Harvest – Best for integrating with other software

Harvest integrates with lots of other apps to keep everything in sync. In fact, Harvest offers more than 100 integrations with other tools. 

Some of these include Slack, QuickBooks Online, Stripe, PayPal, Outlook, and Google Calendar. 

If they don’t have the integration, then they give you the option to create a new integration.

Harvest also offers invoicing, reporting, analysis, time tracking, and budget alerts.

Pricing:

  • Free: $0 with 1 seat and 2 projects

  • Pro: $12 per seat/month with unlimited seats and unlimited projects

  • Free 30-day trial

5. Toggl – Best time tracking

Toggl is a time-tracking software that allows users to effortlessly track every billable minute

Toggl is a time-tracking software that allows users to effortlessly track every billable minute

Toggl tracks the time of every member of your team from anywhere in the world. 

Their software is one of the most impressive time-tracking tools on the market. The software provides real-time insights into employee profitability and the project. 

The time tracking features include time tracking reminders, idle detection, easy time entry deletion, and an offline mode. 

You can also choose your own preferred unit of time so that you can bill in the increments that best suit your business.

Pricing:

  • Free: $0 for up to 5 users

  • Starter: $10 per user/month

  • Premium: $20 per user/month

  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

  • Free 30-day trial

Toggl Track Product Demo by Toggl


Frequently asked questions

What are the best project expense trackers?

The best project expense trackers are as follows:

1. Hubstaff

2. Zoho Projects

3. Shoeboxed

4. Harvest

5. Toggl

What is the best way to track a project budget?

Setting up a system online is the best method for tracking project expenses. The online system makes it easier to control the project costs and lessens the chance of human error.

What is a project budget tracker?

A project budget tracker is a tool that tracks how much money has been spent on a project so that project managers know how much money they have left to use.


Conclusion

Tracking expenses is an essential component of a business’s profitability and success when working on projects for its clients. 

It’s a huge challenge to forecast accurately and manage project budgets. The last thing you want to do is to go way over the budget. 

Project expense tracking software and apps will help to establish and control the expenses within the budget much more efficiently.

Caryl Ramsey has years of experience assisting in different aspects of bookkeeping, taxes, and customer service. She uses a variety of accounting software for setting up client information, reconciling accounts, coding expenses, running financial reports, and preparing tax returns. She is also experienced in setting up corporations with the State Corporation Commission and the IRS.


About Shoeboxed!

Shoeboxed is a receipt scanning service with receipt management software that supports multiple methods for receipt capture: send, scan, upload, forward, and more!

You can stuff your receipts into one of our Magic Envelopes (prepaid postage within the US). Use our receipt tracker + receipt scanner app (iPhone, iPad and Android) to snap a picture while on the go. Auto-import receipts from Gmail. Or forward a receipt to your designated Shoeboxed email address.

Turn your receipts into data and deductibles with our expense reports that include IRS-accepted receipt images.

Join over 1 million businesses scanning & organizing receipts, creating expense reports and more—with Shoeboxed.

Try Shoeboxed today!