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Guide to Accounts Payable Audit With Step-by-Step Process and Checklist

Mohammed Ridwan

5

Your employee receives the vendor invoice and goes to the department manager and procurement department for three-way matching — invoice, purchase order, and goods receipt. Once approved, the finance department prepares to clear the payment. Finally, the accounting department makes the journal entries and updates accounting records. This is an end-to-end accounts payable process.

But it isn't as simple and straightforward. The chances of errors increase with various stakeholders involved. These range from manual data entry mistakes and invoice duplications to missed discounts, late payments, and inaccurate coding. This intricate process further results in unapproved invoices, incomplete documentation, vendor communication gaps, and mismatched purchase orders.

Hence, it becomes imperative to conduct regular checks. The inspections look into the internal processes to identify loopholes and act as an early sign. This post will discuss what an accounts payable audit is and how you can prepare for it.

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What is an Accounts Payable Audit?

An accounts payable (AP) audit is a type of accounting audit that investigates a company's accounts payable records, statements, and processes for potential errors, fraud, and non-compliance.  

In an AP audit, auditors track AP transactions from beginning to end, including the purchase order, invoice, approval steps, payment, and reconciliation, ensuring that everything has been recorded and documented correctly. 

The auditors assess the internal records and documentation for the following:

  • Validity - Are all invoices and transactions verified as genuine, preventing payment for unauthorized items?
  • Completeness - Are the invoices, purchase orders, and delivery receipts recorded correctly to avoid missing any payments?
  • Accuracy - Is every invoice amount cross-checked against corresponding purchase orders and delivery receipts to prevent payment errors?
  • Compliance - Are the accounts payable documents compliant with tax and company policies to avoid penalties and ensure ethical financial practices?

Further, the auditors inspect the internal processes for the following: 

  • Segregation of Duties -Are responsibilities clearly divided to prevent conflicts and maintain a system of checks and balances
  • Approvals - Are transaction approval processes in place, ensuring compliance with policies and accountability?
  • Access Controls - Are access controls effectively implemented to protect sensitive information, preventing unauthorized access and potential breaches?

By addressing these questions, the auditors find areas to improve and strengthen the accounts payable system. This process provides a thorough picture of financial operations, identifying weaknesses that could affect accuracy, efficiency, and compliance.

How to Conduct an Accounts Payable Audit

Before establishing an audit plan, you need three things to prepare for an accounts payable audit:

1. Stakeholder Input

Schedule meetings with key stakeholders such as finance managers, approvers, and document handlers. Ask for their insights on pain points, challenges, and expectations related to the accounts payable process. Document their feedback and use it to tailor the audit plan. It helps to address specific concerns and improve efficiency.

2. Documents Repository 

Conduct a comprehensive review of the current document storage system. Ensure all relevant documents are organized, labeled, and stored in a secure, easily accessible location. If you are using digital AP software for the repository, validate that it has proper version control and is updated. 

Checklist of Documents Required

  • Vendor Invoices
  • Purchase Orders
  • Goods/Services Receipts
  • Vendor Contracts and Agreements
  • Payment Records
  • Expense Reports
  • Vendor Statements
  • Credit Memos
  • Internal Controls and Policies
  • General Ledger Entries
  • Tax Documents
  • Bank Reconciliation Statements
  • Vendor Information
  • Access Logs
  • Expense Allocation Documentation
  • Documentation of Disputed Invoices
  • Employee Authorization Forms
  • Proof of Payment
  • Inventory Records (if applicable)
  • Regulatory Compliance Documentation

3. Access Control

Review and update access controls to restrict access to sensitive financial data. Work with IT and security teams to ensure only authorized personnel can access critical systems and repositories. Also, periodically verify user access levels and promptly revoke access for individuals who no longer require it. This helps maintain a secure and controlled environment.

4-Step AP Audit Procedure

With all the documents ready, inputs gathered, and access shared, you can initiate the AP audit procedure. It includes the following steps:

Audit Plan

Establish an audit plan to define the scope of the audit, specifying the departments and time frame under consideration. Assign audit team members and allocate necessary resources for the audit. Identify potential risks such as errors or compliance issues.

Here is what an audit plan looks like.

Audit Plan

Objective: The primary aim of this audit is to express an opinion on the fairness of XYZ Company's financial statements in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

Scope: The audit will cover the financial statements of XYZ Company for the year ended December 31, 20XX, including the balance sheet, income statement, statement of cash flows, and accompanying notes.

Audit Team: The audit team will consist of the lead auditor, staff auditors, and specialists as needed. The team members will be assigned specific tasks based on their expertise and the areas to be audited.

Audit Approach: The audit will be conducted as per the auditing standards and guidelines issued by the relevant regulatory bodies. The approach will include substantive testing, tests of controls, analytical procedures, and other audit procedures as deemed necessary.

Materiality Threshold: The materiality threshold for the financial statements is set at $XXX. Any misstatements or discrepancies exceeding this threshold will be considered material.

Risk Assessment: The audit team will conduct a risk assessment to identify and assess the risks of material misstatement in the financial statements. The evaluation will consider both inherent and control risks.

Audit Procedures:

  • Cash and Cash Equivalents:
  • Confirm bank balances and reconciliations
  • Test cash transactions and cutoff procedures
  • Review bank statements and related agreements
  • Revenue Recognition:
  • Test sales transactions and revenue recognition policies
  • Review contracts and agreements for completeness and accuracy
  • Verify the accuracy of recorded revenue
  • Inventory:
  • Observe the physical inventory count
  • Test inventory valuation methods
  • Review inventory turnover and obsolescence
  • Accounts Payable:
  • Confirm outstanding payables with vendors
  • Test completeness and accuracy of recorded payables
  • Review payment terms and agreements
  • Fixed Assets:
  • Verify the existence and valuation of fixed assets
  • Test depreciation calculations
  • Review additions and disposals

Documentation: All audit procedures, findings, and conclusions will be documented in working papers, including supporting evidence and references to applicable accounting standards.

Reporting: A draft of an audit report will be prepared for management review before issuing the final report. The report will include the auditor's opinion on the financial statements and any relevant disclosures.

Fieldwork

With the audit plan in place, the audit team moves on to a detailed examination of the accounts payable process. Simultaneously, it also engages with key stakeholders to get valuable insights into the practical aspects of the AP process. In this stage, it ascertains the effectiveness of internal processes in safeguarding against potential risks. It performs the following assessments: 

  • Verify completeness and accuracy of invoices, purchase orders, and payment records
  • Match invoices with purchase orders and delivery receipts
  • Check for discrepancies in amounts or quantities
  • Evaluate the adherence of the approval process to established policies
  • Confirm proper authorization before payment processing
  • Review vendor master file for accuracy and up-to-date information
  • Implement checks to identify and rectify duplicate payments
  • Ensure compliance with internal policies, industry regulations, and legal requirements
  • Review accruals and prepaid expenses for accurate reflection of the financial statements

  • Verify the accuracy of data entry in the financial system

However, an audit team struggles the most with finding the proper documents. Either the internal team fails to provide the specific invoices, purchase requests, and purchase orders, or it gets lost in the pile of documents. This slowdown in the audit process increases the risk of oversight and incomplete scrutiny, compromising accuracy and thoroughness.

The best way to fix this leak is to go for accounts payable automation.

With AP automation, you streamline approvals and payments and create a centralized hub for bookkeeping. Instead of manual record-keeping, the tool automatically captures and extracts all necessary documents. Its integration capabilities ensure consistent data across the organization, simplifying data management and retrieval.

Audit Report

Finally, the audit team prepares a detailed audit report, including an executive summary, methodology, findings, and recommendations. The report provides a comprehensive overview, detailing identified issues and areas of strength.

To read an audit report and implement it effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Involve the audit committee, executive director, and senior financial staff in reviewing the report.
  2. Identify significant issues, such as financial conflicts of interest, and address them promptly. Classify minor concerns, such as operational inefficiencies and technological deficiencies, for resolution over several months.
  3. Consider the list of best practices and custom recommendations provided by the auditors. Use them to plan and prioritize your organization's next steps.
  4. Evaluate the "scope, nature, and timing" of the audit conducted by the audit team to assess the auditors' efficiency in utilizing resources without redundancy. Explore ways to make the audit process more efficient for the next cycle.

Regardless of the audit cycle, continuously assess and improve auditing procedures. Explore options such as accounts payable automation, process optimizations, and strategic partnerships.

Follow-up

During this stage, the audit team monitors the implementation of recommended changes. It involves continuous communication with stakeholders to address concerns or questions arising from the audit report. The team also ensures that the proposed improvements are effectively integrated into the organization's processes.

Preparing for Your Next Accounts Payable Audit

To make your next audit easier for the auditors and the internal team, address past findings and consider adopting accounts payable automation for efficiency. By addressing previous audit issues, you proactively improve your internal processes by resolving identified issues. It builds a culture of accountability and responsibility, laying the groundwork for a more efficient and effective audit process in the future.

An AP automation software becomes a central hub for the documentation, streamlining the intricate process. Automated document capture and retrieval ensure swift access, minimizing errors. Also, it highlights areas for improvement, enabling the team to address issues beforehand. 

As a result, audits become more streamlined, faster, and less stressful, ensuring strict adherence to rules and optimal functionality. We have curated a list of top AP automation software to help you pick the right one. Check the top 7 accounts payable automation solutions that simplify the accounts payable process and audits.

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5
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Spend Management
October 26, 2023

Vlad Falin

How to Manage Petty Cash Effectively in 2024

Not every expense in the company requires you to issue a check. Payments like petrol, supplies, stamps, etc., are paid via cash. For these business transactions, either the employees take cash in advance or put in a request for reimbursement. This mechanism requires you to set some cash aside and employ a person for receipt management and reporting. The cash is referred to as petty cash. 

What Is the Meaning of Petty Cash?

Petty cash refers to a small amount of money that businesses keep readily available for handling minor payments and expenses that are too small to be processed through regular accounting procedures. It is often kept on hand and is reimbursed periodically.

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What are Petty Cash Examples?

Petty cash includes small miscellaneous expenses, such as:

  • Office supplies
  • Gifts
  • Client lunch
  • Refreshments
  • Postage
  • Medicine and first aid
  • Minor repairs
  • Transportation

What Is the Process of Petty Cash Disbursement?

The first step in petty cash disbursement is to define policies and procedures. This includes specifying:

  • The purpose of the fund
  • The maximum cash amount 
  • The types of expenses the fund can cover
  • The process for replenishing the fund

The next step is to appoint a petty cash custodian. They are responsible for handling the petty cash fund. 

Then, you set up the fund by transferring the initial sum of money into a safe or locker. This amount should be sufficient to cover minor expenses for a defined period. 

When employees make small purchases, they request funds from the custodian. After the purchase, they return with a petty cash voucher, receipt, and cash balance. 

The custodian reviews the receipts and provides reimbursement. They maintain detailed records of every transaction, including the date, purpose, recipient, amount, and a brief description of the expense. This record-keeping method ensures transparency and accountability.

After that, the custodian reconciles the petty cash fund at regular intervals. They add up the safe's cash balance and the receipts' value. The total should match the original amount in the fund. 

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What are the Two Types of Petty Cash?

To manage petty cash, the custodian relies on either of the petty cash book systems:

1. Imprest Petty Cash Book

An imprest petty cash system involves maintaining a fixed amount of money in the petty cash fund at all times. 

For instance, you set up a fund of $100. When the fund gets down to $20, the custodian requests reimbursement and replenishes the fund to $100.

2. Columnar or Analytical Petty Cash Book

A columnar or analytical petty cash book is a detailed and structured method of recording petty cash transactions. It categorizes expenses into different general ledger codes for better tracking.

For instance, you create separate columns, such as "office supplies," "refreshments," "meals," etc. Whenever a transaction occurs, the custodian records it in the appropriate column and specifies its purpose.

What are the Challenges of Petty Cash?

While the process of petty cash seems linear and simple, it has many intricacies in practice. 

Imagine the custodian getting hundreds or thousands of requests and receipts every day. So, maintaining a petty cash system is easier in a smaller business with limited expenses and reporting needs. However, for larger enterprises, relying on manual vouchers and physical safes/lockers causes a lot of chaos. 

1. Vulnerability to Theft and Misuse 

Unlike an automated system, a manual petty cash system lacks controls and security measures.

For example, if the custodian is not vigilant, employees can use the cash for personal expenses. Similarly, if the custodian gets stuck between multiple requests and receipts, it leads to oversight.

Moreover, the physical nature of cash in a petty cash box makes it an easier target for theft. Since there's no immediate digital record, anybody can steal money, which goes unnoticed for a while. This lack of transparency and a digital audit trail makes it difficult to identify funds misuse.

2. Poor Receipt Management 

Receipts are the document of proof for the expense. With the traditional approach, custodians have to chase employees for receipts. This results in incomplete or unaccounted-for submissions. 

Moreover, relying on the manual petty cash process makes it harder. The custodians have to manage countless receipts daily, making reconciliation tedious. Hence, you end up with misplaced, duplicate, or even damaged receipts. 

A common example of this issue is when a custodian receives multiple receipts and with an analytical petty cash book to maintain. It takes them hours to reconcile, report, and ensure accurate categorization. 

The worst is when it's time to report, and locating these receipts takes hours.

3. Chaotic Approval Workflow  

In smaller companies, getting approval for expenses is easy. But, in large enterprises, even small expenses can prompt approvals from various departments and stakeholders. This makes the approval workflow complicated and time-consuming. This delays the fund release, disrupting the workflow and reimbursement process.   

For example, imagine an employee who wants to buy a subscription for less than $300. In a big company, it will prompt approval from the manager, IT, finance, and legal departments.  

All this back-and-forth slows things down a lot.

4. Internal Resentment

In big companies, there's tension between the finance team and other departments.  This issue occurs when employees can't access the funds and have to wait for approval. Such a delay disrupts the work or delays the reimbursement.

For instance, an employee needs to buy a subscription for work. But the delay in approval impacted the deadline and client relationship. This creates problems and stress between the finance team and other departments.

5. Branch-Level Petty Cash Management

Large enterprises use separate petty cash systems for departments at the branch level. This means that each department has its own petty cash fund to manage.

Managing small amounts of cash at individual branches is tricky. Employees misuse/steal the money as there's not much oversight. There is no visibility on how money is being spent. Maintaining funds for multiple branches becomes a headache. Also, departments find it challenging to request more funds.  

Reconciliation becomes challenging as the finance teams have to chase branches for complete information. This leaves a lot of loopholes for employees and branch custodians to misuse petty cash.

6. Tedious Reconciliation Process

Reconciliation ensures that the petty cash fund's balance matches the sum of all expenses. 

Manually, reconciliation in large enterprises takes weeks and is prone to errors. Moreover, when adding up expenses, the process is prone to manual errors, which are hard to identify and correct.

For instance, the custodian overlooks a receipt. This mismatch between the recorded expenses and the actual cash on hand can take him weeks to spot errors. 

7. Low Visibility Over Expenses

Traditional petty cash systems lack real-time data. At any given point of time, the custodian is unaware of the fund's current status. This lack of visibility delays financial decision-making. For instance, it can take weeks before the custodian realizes that the petty cash fund is running low. This can lead to temporary cash shortages for essential expenses.

The absence of a clear record makes it slower to notice problems and reconcile the cash. Moreover, transactions and expenses are recorded on paper, which leads to further errors. For example, when an employee uses petty cash to buy office supplies, there will be a delay until the expense is recorded.

Similarly, when many employees spend money simultaneously, tracking them in real-time is tough. This lack of transparency allows employees to misuse petty cash for personal expenses.

How to Manage Petty Cash Effectively With Pluto? 

To overcome the challenges described previously, you can not rely on any automation tool. Instead, you need a product that is tailored to your specific needs. While many tools can assist you in digitizing petty cash management, Pluto goes the extra mile.

With Pluto, you no longer need to maintain a physical safe or countless vouchers and receipts. Pluto records every transaction in real time and gives you visibility at each step. From receipt to reimbursement, you manage everything with complete control and clarity.

Unlimited Corporate Cards

Pluto enables you to issue unlimited corporate cards, simplifying petty cash management. It eliminates the need for physical lockers or safes, promoting smoother cash flow. The availability of unlimited cards allows you to replace shared credit cards. This enables the use of cards for even small petty cash expenses. 

Finance teams get full control and visibility over each petty cash expense in real time.

Employees can either swipe the cards for a seamless process or withdraw cash from ATMs. Every expense made with the corporate card triggers an approval workflow. It prompts employees to add receipts and managers to approve expenses. They can then add the receipts simply via WhatsApp and get reimbursed without any delays.

With all the data consolidated on a single platform, reconciliation becomes easier. This simplified process eliminates the need for a dedicated custodian to manage petty cash.

Not only do you get more control, but you save money with visibility at each step.  

Budget Control

Pluto allows you to specify limits for corporate cards issued. This ensures employees stay within budget. 

When the spending exceeds, employees can request more funds. The budget expands on the manager's approval in seconds, allowing for necessary spending.

Administrators can also issue zero balance cards. These cards with zero balances prompt an approval request for each expense. This approach ensures budget control without causing any delays or resentment.

Easy Receipt Management 

Pluto simplifies receipt management thanks to its seamless WhatsApp integration. 

Your employees can upload receipts via WhatsApp, which are recorded in real-time. The custodians no longer need to run after employees for the receipts.

However, Pluto does more than just store receipts. It extracts vital information through OCR, including vendor names, amounts, and GLs. As a result, your accounting team spends less time on manual tasks like creating logs.

Approval Workflow  

Normally, getting approval for expenses can involve a lot of back and forth. But with Pluto, you can set up custom approval processes to make the process smoother. 

When an employee uploads receipts, Pluto automatically starts the approval workflow. It notifies the custodian and managers to approve the expense, removing the friction.

The reimbursement process accelerates without any compromise on efficiency.

Further, Pluto uses OCR to detect duplicate receipts to avoid dual payments and fraud. This makes it easier to double-check expenses and approve the legitimate ones. 

Digital Expense Report  

Pluto offers digital expense reports that compile data from all the receipts. 

The report simplifies the task for your finance teams to see how each branch/department is spending. It enables them to make adjustments to policies and procedures as needed.

For instance, a company has small office supply purchases spread across various departments. Pluto's real-time visibility and report help to locate these costs. As a result, finance teams can reconsider and promote bulk purchases for cost savings. 

With Pluto, the custodian gets complete visibility into the expenses and the available funds at all times.

Close Books 10X Faster  

Pluto simplifies the process of closing books. 

Since employees can submit receipts directly through WhatsApp, custodians don’t need to chase employees for receipt submissions. This enables you to close the book 10X faster by accelerating the reconciliation process.  

Pluto records all transactions in a centralized digital platform. This streamlines audit logs and eliminates the need to maintain physical records.

With its OCR-based receipt retrieval, finding specific receipts and information becomes more effortless. This simplifies the reconciliation process, making the entire book-closing process faster. 

Replace Petty Cash With Corporate Cards

Small expenses and cash transactions can not be removed. However, finding an expense management tool can make petty cash management simpler. 

Stop relying on manual traditional processes to manage petty cash. Choose Pluto to replace your tedious petty cash books and vouchers with corporate cards. 

Sign up today to digitize your petty cash for complete visibility and control.

5
All
Procurement
December 11, 2023

Vlad Falin

Procurement Management: A Guide to the Basics of the Procurement Cycle

Picture handling hundreds of weekly purchase requests from different departments, each demanding new vendor searches. When you finally make purchases after going through the cycle of approvals and negotiations, you end up facing goods and invoice discrepancies. 

That’s a chaotic situation you certainly want to avoid. 

While procurement may seem like a simple purchase on paper, the process requires planning and structure for larger organizations. 

One way to avoid this chaos is through procurement management, which helps businesses streamline the acquisition and record-keeping process. This reduces overhead costs and helps you remain profitable.  

In this post, we will explore what is procurement management, outline the steps involved, and give tips to optimize your procurement cycle for an effective procurement management system. 

What is Procurement Management? 

Procurement management refers to the strategic acquisition of goods and services to meet the needs of an organization. It covers the entire goods procurement process from raising purchase requests to settling payments with vendors. This involves the procurement team’s planning, sourcing, negotiating, validating, and clearing payments to ensure a proper supply chain. 

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Steps Involved in the Procurement Management System

Steps Involved in the Procurement Management System

A standard procurement management process is intricate and involves several stakeholders. Here are the key steps:

  1. Needs Assessment: Identify internal requirements through meticulous forecasting.
  2. Vendor Selection and Database Establishment: Thoroughly vet vendors, creating a robust database for strategic partnerships.
  3. Negotiation of Terms: Engage in negotiations on pricing and delivery schedules to optimize resource utilization.
  4. Purchase Order Generation: Transform approved purchase requests into precise orders to minimize potential errors.
  5. Goods Receipt and Matching: Validate received goods against purchase orders (GRN matching) to ensure order accuracy and quality control.
  6. Invoice Approval and Payment Processing: Ensure accuracy before approving invoices and proceeding with payments.
  7. Record Maintenance for Auditing: Systematically document all transactions for transparent auditing, ensuring compliance and accountability.

Although the process looks simple, it has several loopholes. There are numerous steps involved, and the entire process becomes tricky to execute. These steps are scattered across multiple platforms, complicating reconciliation during the audit season.

Furthermore, it requires approvals at certain stages, making it unfavorable for larger teams with complex hierarchies. 

How to Optimize the Procurement Management System

You can overcome these challenges by automating your systems. 

Automation makes this lengthy and complex process a simple and efficient procurement cycle. The employees get a dedicated platform to raise requests. Furthermore, stakeholders can efficiently review and approve requests with automated notifications. 

Automation also simplifies GRN matching through the data stored in the software. Accounting and payment integrations help clear approved invoices within seconds. 

Throughout this process, you gain real-time visibility and control over expenses. Moreover, having all your information on a unified platform simplifies reconciliation and ensures a proper audit trail.

Here are five ways automating the procurement process helps your business:

1. Internal Control Over Financial Reporting (ICFR)

Automation ensures compliance with ICFR standards and upholds quality controls throughout the procurement process. It does this by using trigger-based approval workflows that follow predefined financial controls. It implements validation checks to ensure that procurement transactions meet quality control standards. This makes two-way and three-way matching seamless. 

By deploying a single software solution, you detect and prevent potential errors or discrepancies in financial reporting.

2. Documentation

Automation brings together purchase requests, purchase orders, receipts, and all the relevant conversations on a unified platform. This makes storing and retrieving information easier, especially during the audit season. Also, optical character recognition (OCR) technology simplifies extracting key information, eliminating the need for manual data entry. 

As a result, you improve document accuracy and prevent errors such as late or incorrect returns due to missing receipts, invoices, payables, and supporting documentation.

3. Integration

Automation software integrates with your accounting software, payment gateways, and ERPs bringing together the scattered pieces of procurement. 

It allows you to request, manage, match goods receipts, and pay vendors from a single place. The best part is that your data remains consistent across all your software making the lives of financial controllers easier.

4. Measure

Automation offers you real-time visibility through a custom dashboard. It gives you a holistic view of the procure-to-pay process with a centralized data repository. 

This makes it easier to extract insights and optimize the process to improve margins, such as average payables due, top vendors, department-wise expenses, etc.

5. Standardize Workflows

Automation helps you create standardized workflows to ensure consistency and efficiency. As a result, each stakeholder gets notified to complete their part. So, be it approving expenses or GRN matching, these set workflows eliminate the need to chase employees averting potential delays. 

Challenges of Automating the Procurement Cycle 

While automation does offer several benefits, choosing the right tool is crucial. One wrong decision and you might end up in one of the following situations:

  • You invest in a basic software that lacks functionality and doesn’t solve your procurement issues.
  • You choose a complex product that is difficult to understand and operate. 
  • You get a tool that doesn’t integrate with your existing accounting and payment software, increasing the manual task of syncing data across these systems. 
  • You get multiple products for different steps that lack integration, hindering efficient and streamlined procurement management. 

Automation becomes a nightmare with the wrong software. All these scenarios lead to resource wastage. Moreover, weeks and months spent on implementation disrupt the supply chain.

What a Good Automation Procurement Management System Looks Like

Here’s how a comprehensive automation platform makes your procurement process easy, functional, flexible, and scalable. 

1. Standardize Process

Standardize Process

You have a centralized platform to consolidate the scattered procurement process. Whether purchase requests, approval workflows, or recurring SaaS payments, it allows you to automate as many procurement elements as you want. 

It lets you digitize the entire process without compromising your current workflows. This boosts transparency and provides better control over your expenses. 

2. Streamline Approvals

Streamline Approvals

You get a no-code trigger-based approval workflow engine that helps you set exact approval hierarchies to get approvals without disruptions.

For example, you can add if-then rules and set a precise and intricate workflow. Thus, when an employee raises a purchase request, instead of chasing stakeholders, this system notifies them to review and approve the requests. 

Additionally, all queries or clarifications unfold within the procurement software, ensuring comprehensive documentation and visibility. This eliminates maverick spending and fosters an accountable procurement process. 

3. Vendor Management 

Vendor Management 

You can sync all your vendors to your accounting software and ERPs. This creates vendor consistency across platforms, accelerating the purchase order creation. You also get the ability to add the list of items and simplify the purchase order and GRN matching process.

4. Receipt Management 

Receipt Management 

You get a dedicated dashboard to manage all your receipts. The software captures invoices from emails and WhatsApp and uses OCR technology to extract key information. This streamlines GRN matching as all vendor, purchase order, and invoice details are in one place. 

Pluto's procure-to-pay module is an excellent example of this centralization. It accelerates reconciliation with GL codes and tax codes, enhancing finance teams' visibility and control over purchase order spending.

5. Centralize Documentation

Centralize Documentation

You have a unified information source as the software integrates with your accounting and payment software and your ERP. Hence, it becomes easy to store and maintain data while maintaining consistency across. 

For instance, Pluto offers you a wide range of integrations, such as NetSuite, Xero, QuickBooks, Zoho, etc., so that you focus on procuring goods and get complete documentation with accuracy. 

6. Detailed Reports 

Report

You get comprehensive reports, making it easier to extract insights and make data-driven decisions. Also, as all the information is stored within the software, there are no gaps or loss of context. You get an accurate picture of your procurement process. This allows for strategic planning and forecasting. 

For instance, with Pluto, you get insights, such as average time for approvals, average payables due, top vendors, department-wise spending, location-wise spending, etc. 

7. Audit Trails

Audit Trails

Since there’s a unified platform to maintain thousands of receipts, you get complete visibility into each order from purchase requests to stakeholders involved and order status. This audit trail becomes a blessing during the audit season when you need less than 30 seconds to retrieve a specific receipt or document.  

There’s More to Procurement Management than Automation

Procurement management is not just about automation. While it does enhance the three core components of procurement—people, process, and paperwork, procurement management requires more than the adoption of software. 

Pluto aims not just to automate your processes but also to support your existing workflows. Then, be it purchase requests, accounts payable, or accounting, it strives to improve your processes by removing all the bottlenecks that cause chaos.  

Know more about how we can help your business. Book a demo and we’ll see you across to maximize the efficiency of your procurement process.

5
All
Spend Management
January 12, 2023

Vlad Falin

How To Manage Your Company Spending In 2024?

When it comes to growing a business, many executives focus on increasing profits and growing revenue as the way to achieve their goals. 

However, one aspect of growth that is sometimes overlooked is the expense management of your organization, and how to make it more efficient.

Without proper spend management strategies, your efforts to grow the company revenue could be easily sabotaged by overstuffed budgets, inefficient spending, and a lack of expense tracking that hurts your bottom-line when tax season comes around.

That’s why this article will discuss the importance of managing your company spending, and how to do it efficiently!

The Importance Of Company Spending Management

Business spend management is a combination of strategies and business tools used to track, analyze, and manage business spending, in particular in regard to supplier relationships. 

When companies are unable to track and control their spending in real-time, they may expose themselves to financial leaks and lose revenue in the long run. 

The majority of a company's costs come from external expenditures, which account for 40-80% of its total costs. A lack of efficient spend management can have disastrous effects on your business; the statistics speak for themselves.

As a result, businesses that understand and wish to mitigate this risk need to use spend management software to do the heavy lifting. Not only does the software offer cost-saving opportunities, but it also prevents overspending.

A spend management solution becomes particularly crucial when it comes to tax reporting, as the expense documenting process simplifies the tax reporting, which makes it easier to receive tax breaks and avoid hefty penalties.

For the United Arab Emirates region, corporate income tax (or CT for short) will be applied to business activities starting on the 1st of June 2023. You’ll be charged 9% for taxable income exceeding AED 375,000, but 0% if your annual taxable income falls below that threshold. As such, keeping track of your expenses and managing spending will be even more important than ever.

Benefits of Expense Management

The importance of spending management is not limited to enterprises with large expenses, but also to small and medium-sized businesses looking to improve profitability, scalability, and sustainability. 

There are several benefits to spend management automation, regardless of your business size. These benefits include:

An in-depth analysis of all spending

Saving money for your business requires analyzing all aspects of it in order to find cost-cutting opportunities or other areas of improvement. 

Pluto gives you a general overview of your operations in terms of costs, as well as an in-depth analysis of your spending, making it much easier to find what you are looking for.

Maintaining an efficient budget

When it comes to proper spend management, your budget is crucial. But building a proper budget requires that you have both an eagle-eye view of your business, as well as attention to the smaller details. This is made much easier through the use of spend management software.

Control over company spending in real time

It’s much harder to make efficient decisions about your spending when you are basing them on data that is already outdated. 

With Pluto, you’ll be working with real-time data to ensure your decisions are based on current information.

An easier time identifying and eliminating out-of-policy and fraudulent expenditures

It’s harder to reduce out-of-policy spending when you can’t track it effectively. Pluto will help you automatically detect fraudulent and out-of-policy employee expenses and alert you to them.

Payables can be tracked and processed easily

If you are managing your expenses properly and using the right account payable software to do so, you won’t have an issue keeping track of your payables, as well as have a better overview of your spending.

Better negotiations with your suppliers

You can make better decisions when it comes to your supply contracts and purchases when you have real-time data of your expenses.

Using Pluto's unified spend management dashboard, finance teams can always see where money flows. Pluto's procurement software enhances the visibility of financial transactions, enabling more informed decision-making for procurement and sourcing processes.

Budgeting is the key to delivering on your promises, growing your team, enhancing your product offerings, and weathering inevitable economic downturns.

The Problem with a Manual Spend Management Process

Trying to manage business spending without proper oversight and strategies in place is like putting all your home expenses on a credit card without checking the statement every month. You might not know what you are facing until it’s too late. 

If you don't implement intentional spend controls, you may still be profitable, but you won't know when your situation will change or how close you are to the edge. 

The importance of spend control becomes more obvious to companies, especially growing ones, after they face a tight situation or a disruption to their business. As a result of these problems, businesses can experience budget overruns, erratic cash flows, supply chain management issues, and deteriorating customer relations. 

But traditional spend management techniques are limited, which is where the aid of software comes into place. If you limit yourself to manual spend management strategies, you might face the following issues:

  • Outdated spending reports: Traditional methods of managing spend tend to produce spending data that is at least a month old. As a result, finance teams have difficulty identifying and correcting unnecessary spending before the damage is done. 
  • Overspending: Overspending and budget noncompliance are a consequence of finance teams being unable to track real-time spend. Costs like these can quickly add up to cause trouble for tax authorities as well as overspending. 
  • Inefficient strategies due to lack of real-time data: If you lack real-time data and work only based on reports that are outdated, you might be missing the forest for the trees. This could have the effect of optimizing your spending rather than improving your overall business process efficiency. In order to cut costs and optimize operations, real-time spend data is essential. 
  • Manual entry errors: Data entry errors skyrocket if your finance team has to move data between multiple software programs and map employee spending manually. As a result, financial reporting could be delayed. 
  • Issues with remote working and compliance: Employees who work remotely need to pay for other business expenses quickly and in accordance with compliance requirements. The traditional spend management system, with its shared corporate cards and lengthy approval processes, simply cannot keep up.
  • Strained resources: It takes finance teams a long time to manually align expenditures to budgets after the expenditures have been made. This takes up many productive hours and, of course, can lead to errors when entering data. 

How To Manage Company Spending

Managing your company spending is both a science and an art, but much more the former than the latter. 

Each business will have its own unique challenges to overcome when it comes to spending, but there’s still general strategies you can adopt that will fit most situations.

Create a Budget that Accounts for the Future

When it comes to budgeting, you shouldn’t just think about the expenses in front of you, you also have to consider potential unexpected expenses. 

If you limit yourself to budgeting for the present, you’ll have a hard time dealing with expenses that can pop up out of nowhere.

Your budget should be realistic, but also reviewed frequently to ensure it is still appropriate for your business as it grows and evolves. 

Creating a good budget will require that you examine your current and past expenses, take a look at your spending habits, and consider your potential expenses as your business grows. 

This will give you an opportunity to review your existing processes, expense policies, and track expenses that you might not be thinking about.

Use Zero-Based Budgeting

It’s not uncommon for organizations to focus on past expenses and budgets when creating a new one. 

However, businesses and the environments around them change, and so budgets need to change as well. 

That is where zero-based budgeting comes in. This technique creates a new budget from scratch for each budgeting period. The budget is then compared to past budgets and weighed against current expenses.

In a company, zero-based budgeting can be used to keep your expenses under control. Your budget needs to be a living breathing element of your operation, and as such you need to constantly evaluate it to find realistic cost-cutting opportunities and areas that can be made more efficient when it comes to expenses.

Report and Track Your Expenses

Any expenses incurred should be documented and filed as soon as possible. This way, your business expenses are accounted for when filing its tax return. This is one area where the use of spend management software becomes crucial, as it dramatically simplifies the process of reporting and tracking your expenses. Pluto helps to categorize said expenditure, further assisting you when it comes to tax season.

Use a Spend Management Platform to Automate Processes and Digitize Expenses

As your business grows, you’ll find that using a spend management tool to track your expenses saves you a lot of time and money. In addition to tracking expenses, it tends to offer many other features, such as the ability to track invoices, payments, and credits all in one place. 

Furthermore, Pluto gives you the ability to assess your expenses on the go, thanks to mobile apps and online dashboards.

It is easier to keep track of your expenses and receipts by digitizing them. Employees can do this by taking pictures of their receipts as soon as they receive them. These images can then be uploaded and tracked through Pluto.

Automating your approval workflows and processes will help to reduce, if not outright eliminate, human error.

Key Spend Management Software Features

Using spend management software is almost mandatory if you want to make your spend tracking and reporting as efficient as possible. 

When looking to choose a platform, consider the following features:

Complete Control Over Spending Data 

If your finance teams don’t have complete control over spending, real-time data cannot be of much use to your business. 

Pluto allows your business finance managers to streamline and automate processes with superior customizability and control over workflows. 

This freedom allows admins to change or optimize workflows as business/processes scale. 

Real-time and in-depth spend analytics

Managing company funds efficiently is the essence of spend management. In order to do that, you need to keep track of your employee expenses as they occur. 

Pluto records employee expenditures in real time and provides you with a reliable picture of what they are spending. 

You can control expenses by using real-time expense tracking without restricting your employees’ work.

Additionally, Pluto provides your finance team with insights and analytics based on all the data it gets. A feature like this is crucial for proper management, especially if your goal is to cut costs and optimize spending through automation. 

Your finance team will struggle to drive meaningful change without detailed analytics, requiring them to go through reams of data and make sense of it. 

Reports on expenses provide an overview of your expense history, making it easier to track down individual purchases. Maintaining accurate records, limiting expenditures, and avoiding fraud are all made easier with this functionality.

Easy to Use

The most advanced software in the world is worthless if no one wants to use it. Simplicity and ease of use of essential business software, such as spend management, should therefore be a priority. 

You might find, for instance, that employees don't use your spend management software if they find it clunky and difficult to use. This can result in a manual spend reporting process that is time-consuming and error-prone. 

A lot of time is spent by businesses storing and processing invoices, receipts, and purchase orders. 

Pluto makes it easy to retrieve and keep track of essential documents, including matching documents to authenticate transactions, for record keeping and due diligence.

An all-in-one platform

Your spend management platform should be a centralized solution for all your spending needs. Keeping all company spending in one place, in real time, is more efficient (and more secure) than using multiple smaller tools. 

Pluto has it all: 

- Unlimited virtual cards

- Efficient reimbursements

- Spend management platform

- Real-time analytics

- Real-time spend control

Essentially, anything that will allow you not only manage your expenses, but really take you spending under control and make sure that everything is at it's maximal eff

Key Takeaways

Managing your company spending is a crucial aspect of company growth that is sometimes overlooked. Proper spending management strategies can help you find cost-cutting opportunities, gain a better overview of the health of your business, and simplify your tax reporting to avoid penalties.

When it comes to developing effective spending management strategies, you should focus on creating a budget that can evolve with your organization, reporting and tracking your expenses in real time, and using a spend management platform to automate and simplify your expense tracking and reporting.