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Expense and Cost Management Use Case

A guide to implementing Alteryx Auto Insights for an expense and cost management use case, including data structure and sample questions.

Problem Statement

The main business questions for cost management are always, how do I reduce cost, and conversely, which area of the business is above budget and why. Additional analysis will also cover budget planning based on historical expense trends.

Typically understanding these types of patterns will be useful during monthly expense meetings, quarterly budget checks, and annual budget planning cycles.

Who Are the Typical Creators and Viewers of This Use Case?
  • Creators–Data Analysts, Business Analysts

  • Viewers–Team Lead, HR Manager, Finance Manager, Internal Auditor, T&E Manager

An Example of Expense and Cost Management Data Structure

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A segment is a qualitative value, like names or categories. Here are some of the typical segments we find in expense data used in Alteryx Auto Insights:

  • Employee attributes–Employee ID, Expense Approver ID, Staff Position, Employee Team Name, Department Name, Office Location, etc.

  • Expense attributes–Expense Category, Expense Detail, Expense Nature, Days of Week, etc.


A measure is a quantitative, numeric value. Here are some of the typical measures we find in expense data used in Alteryx Auto Insights:

  • Expense Metrics–Expense amount, Number of Expense Reports, Average Expense Amount per Report

  • Team Metrics–Average Expense per Team, Variance over budget*

*To compare expense to budget and calculate variance over/under budget, you would need to upload a goals dataset. To read more on the Alteryx Auto Insights goals feature go to the Actuals vs Goals article.

What sort of insights can Auto Insights help me uncover?

We've outlined some example questions that Alteryx Auto Insights can help answer through a combination of its proactive insights, Search, and What caused this?analysis:

Automate Expense Analysis
  • Expenses by department for this FY quarter?

  • Show me a breakdown of expenses by expense type over this FY.

  • Split of spend variance by office location, departments, and category?

Track Spending in Real-Time
  • Expenses by department this FY year to date?

  • Top teams by entertainment spend Month on Month?

  • How are External Consultants Spend tracking this financial quarter?

Spot Unexpected Expense Claims
  • Travel expense on Saturday and Sunday Month on Month?

  • Entertainment expenses on Saturday or Sunday last month?

  • Percentage growth for expenses by team last month?