How-to: Save Receipts with Google Drive

Back office tasks are my least favorite type of legal work. Handling the mundane work of tracking, organizing and sorting the multitude of bookkeeping documents is definitely not my idea of fun. One of the biggest, most frustrating tasks for me is having to organize and track all of the receipts that move in and out of my hands. Most times I end up losing the document, or forgetting it until wash day when the bundle of paper becomes pocket lint. Sadly, that’s more common than not (and I’ll probably end up with an audit for saying that).

Well, I’ve pondered on the possibility of becoming more organized, and thanks to my friend, Futurelawyer, I came up with a workable solution. Here’s Rick’s wee hours post on Google+:

Obviously, there’s nothing extraordinary about the post — the new space and pricing structure on Google Drive is awesome — until you read the comments where Rick says, “I  am only using it for GMail, Google+ and Forms and receipts. Around 30 Gigs. So, I have plenty of room left before I have to go to a Terabyte of storage.”

It’s his comment about receipts that got my head churning, so I asked Rick to explain further:

 I already use a Neat scanner to scan all my receipts and save them to my hard drive. I back them up to the Micro SD, and then sync them with Google Drive. Then Neat scanner is TWAIN compatible, so it has a driver for PaperPort Pro 14, which I use to track my docs and pdf scans.

Of course, I have none of those things, except Drive, so I had to come up with another idea. And that’s when I remembered this new Drive feature:

Drive Scan

Google Drive added scanning (with OCR) many months ago, yet I’ve never taken advantage of the process. Moreover, until today, I haven’t even attempted to monopolize the feature into something useful.

Making scanning work

The first requirement of the scanning process is to determine how you want to handle the receipts. My practice generally produces two categories of receipts: practice related and client related. So, I created a Drive folder called “Receipts” and two more sub-folders called “Practice Related” and “Client Related” — names aren’t important.

Receipts Folder

Now, I can send my practice related receipts (office supplies, networking lunches, etc.) or my client related receipts to their appropriate file folder.

Scanning with Drive

The Drive scan process is really simple.

  1. Open the Drive app on your phone or tablet.
  2. Select the appropriate folder and sub-folder
  3. Press the Scan button
  4. Line up the receipt and take a picture

Drive Image Scan

Drive will automatically convert the document into PDF, where you can edit and revise the document name and other settings.

Drive Scan Edit-Revise

Pressing the plus button will add pages, and the check mark will complete the scan.

If the document’s client related, then when I get back to the office, I can open my Drive folder from my desktop and transfer the receipt to the client’s file and record the information in my practice management system. Having a client folder also ensures that I get the correct expenses billed to the account before settlement or finalization. For practice related documents, I can quickly verify they’re entered into the accounting software. P

I could also fine-tune these folders even further by creating sub-folders for different months, or even purposes (recorded or unrecorded). At least for now though, I’m going to make sure my basic system gets some use.

Plus, if you’re using a bookkeeper or other office management person, you can share the folders with that person so he or she can keep your records up-to-date.

That’s too much work

Obviously, there might be times when detailed receipts aren’t required, but I’d rather err on the side of caution, because more evidence is always better than no evidence. You can also use other apps, like CamScanner to accomplish the same purpose. Though I like the idea of using Drive because it’s an almost automatic process.

I also don’t particularly care whether I store this information in Google’s cloud, since the receipts are just acknowledgement of the bigger transaction. The office supply store, restaurant, or Amazon has the more important information on the other side.

Hopefully, with my 2014 receipt ship righted, I can keep better track of all the information.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.