Technology & Innovation
A Behind-the-Scenes Look at How We Developed Navan Expense

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at How We Developed Navan Expense

Samantha Shankman

25 Aug 2023
2 minute read
Navan’s Finance Team Tests Navan Expense Every Day

In the realm of financial technology, innovation often arises from meticulous introspection. Navan Expense stands as a testament to this principle. 

Back in 2019, Navan made the strategic decision to trial our groundbreaking solution internally. By immersing the team in the very product they developed, we weren’t just betting on the success of Navan Expense — we were actively fine-tuning it. 

Jennifer Bowe, Navan’s Director of Accounting and Financial Transformation, EMEA, tells the story behind this process. 

Interviewer: With your extensive background in accounting and experiences at tech giants like Airbnb, can you give us a snapshot of how expense systems functioned before Navan?

Jennifer: In my previous roles, reimbursing expenses through payroll was common, adding complexity to the payroll and accounting teams. 

With Navan, employees can choose between payroll reimbursement or immediate bank transfers. Traditional systems often delay reimbursement for unapproved expenses, causing stress and complications for employees.

Interviewer: It sounds like Navan has significantly improved this process. Can you share more on the internal implementation of Navan Expense?

Jennifer: We began testing our product in 2019. Our employees used it in real-world scenarios, which taught us valuable lessons about potential misuse and allowed us to refine the software. Our principle of treating company money as personal money helped guide our rollout and create policies.

Interviewer: How has the product evolved since those initial tests?

Jennifer: Today, we offer customizable policies, which give employees flexibility on business trips. We’ve also categorized expenses to make the accounting process more efficient and introduced a flagging system for transactions that might be out of policy or above approved limits.

Interviewer: How has Navan Expense transformed your accounting practices, especially considering Navan’s growth from four to 18 entities in EMEA?

Jennifer: Managing expenses across different countries with varying regulations is challenging. Navan Expense’s flexibility enables us to align with these regulations. For instance, in Germany and Portugal, where receipts for all purchases are mandatory, our technology ensures this requirement is met.

Interviewer: It’s evident that Navan Expense has been integral to your operations. What would you say is the biggest lesson from the last four years?

Jennifer: Trust is crucial. We learned the importance of setting clear boundaries and relying on our technology to prevent out-of-policy spending. The aim isn’t to scrutinize every expense but to foster trust. Navan Expense has revolutionized our operations.

Learn more about Navan Expense.

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