Managing your spending has never been more important or more difficult. And if your processes and policies aren’t adapting to remote-work realities, you’re probably seeing even less of your spending than you were before 2020 threw all the rules out the window.
There is a way to bring order to all this chaos, however, and it begins with visibility. Simplifying your processes and clearing up your policies will go a long way toward sharpening the spending picture, but how do you do that?
To get the answer, you have to ask a few more questions.
Data is critical to managing compliance, and the best spending data you’re going to see is from your corporate card. It’s a direct look at what is actually being spent – and it’s not only accurate, it’s automated. So if an employee adds a $20 tip to a $30 meal, you’ll see it and can do something about it.
If, however, that employee (or any of the hundreds or thousands you employ) pays out of pocket, you may not see the non-compliant behavior, and, as a result, you can’t enforce your policies.
So ask yourself:
• Do we want everyone to have – and use – a corporate card?
• Do our policies support that corporate card commitment?
• If not, and if we want to offer more payment flexibility, do we have the processes in place to protect us?
• Do we have audit rules to assess and correct out-of-policy bookings, overspending, and fraud?
These are not easy questions, but there’s no question about their importance. Especially now, when spending oversight is more critical than ever. Here are a few more questions to keep you thinking.
When employees pay cash or use their personal card, the only way you know what’s being spent (and whether or not it fits your policies) is to sort through stacks of receipts. This process, while time-consuming, also has the benefit of being error-prone. So are you really getting the data you need?
If you made the process simpler – say, automated – could you require receipts for more expenses and therefore effectively enforce compliance? (This one is easy: It’s yes.)
Now what about snapping pictures of receipts as a way to eliminate archaic and annoying paper processes? This is a huge productivity benefit, no doubt, but the real reward is in the accuracy and relative immediacy of the 2 information. The right app gives you more than just an image, it breaks down the data contained in the image – automatically itemizing, categorizing, and populating it into expense reports.
So ask yourself:
• Can we really get rid of manual-entry errors?
• Can we capture accurate and more complete data on each charge?
• Can we ensure that cash spend is on policy while lowering our cash-receipt requirement and making users happy?
These aren’t so much yes/no questions as they are yes/of course questions. You just need to put the right tools in place or expand the tools you have.
Okay, last few questions here.
As we’ve all learned in the past few months, change really is a constant. A constant headache, to be precise. So as you move forward and start thinking of recovery, you’ll want to work adaptability into your process. As markets change, as consumers change, as organizations change, your policies will need to adapt.
Are you flexible enough for that? Ask yourself:
• Can we easily add new expense categories, like those required for working remotely (e.g. home-office equipment, PPE, etc.)?
• Do we have audit rules in place to correct out-of-policy spending as more and more employees (who do not have corporate cards) make more and more spending decisions?
• Can we see if supplier payments that should be on POs are actually winding up on expense reports?
• Do we know how much spending is going on personal cards? Do we know why?
Again, the right tools are out there, and they’ll drive data directly into your system, effectively closing the gaps that keep costs hidden. And when you can see that data, it’s far simpler to manage spending.
How does that sound?
See the tools to tackle travel, expense, and invoice management – they’ll bring spending in line, even as spending changes.