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How to Improve the Expense Reconciliation Process to Close Books Faster

Mohammed Ridwan

January 30, 2024

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For every expense, teams maintain extensive documents like purchase orders, goods received notes (GRN), invoices, etc. With each increasing expense, the finance team has to spend more and more time on spend management — maintaining these documents, syncing data across accounting systems, ensuring proper approval, categorizing accurately, etc.

This manual process is time-consuming and prone to errors like missing receipts, employee fraud, unrecorded expenses, data entry typos, etc.

As a result, teams have inconsistent data across company systems and spend more time fixing these issues than focusing on their core activities. So, when finance teams strive to improve budget allocations, streamline expense tracking, and enhance financial reporting, they find themselves dedicating substantial time to addressing discrepancies among different financial databases and systems.

This blog will cover improving the expense reconciliation process and replacing manual and old methods with an improved solution.

What is Expense Reconciliation?

Expense reconciliation is a process that matches the actual expenses with the corresponding book entries. It involves comparing two sets of financial records, such as bank statements, credit card statements, receipts, etc., to identify and rectify discrepancies between them.

So, for every expense, you have an entry at an external source and in the internal systems. You match them together to ensure the accuracy of financial reporting, compliance with accounting standards, and prevention of errors or fraud.

However, companies rely on outdated systems — entry-level accounting tools, spreadsheet-based solutions, or legacy ERPs, which cannot handle end-to-end reconciliation processes. These compel finance teams to spend valuable time on manual tasks like data entry and receipt management, hindering reconciliation efficiency and increasing the risk of errors in financial data. 

Hence, submitting and tracking expenses becomes cumbersome for employees, while finance teams face manual verification and reconciliation challenges. Managers struggle with delayed approvals, and the overall process becomes susceptible to errors, affecting accuracy and compliance.

How to Reconcile Expenses Faster

Invest in spend management software to reconcile expenses faster. With spend management software, you can track and monitor each transaction on a centralized platform in real time.

Expense reconciliation with Pluto

The automated process makes reconciliation simpler and faster by providing a single source of information and enabling advanced controls. You can create customizable approval workflows and specify spending rules to suit complex hierarchies and ensure compliance with company policies. 

Especially with Pluto, each expense triggers the approval workflow and notifies employees to upload the receipt through WhatsApp. The accounting system integration syncs data across the financial systems to provide a consistent and accurate database.

Here is how switching to Pluto helps you reconcile efficiently and close your books of accounts ten times faster:

1. Easy to Identify Discrepancies

Find expanse policy discrepancies

In a traditional manual reconciliation process, identifying discrepancies involves sifting through piles of paperwork or navigating complex spreadsheets.

With Pluto's automated system, this cumbersome task is simplified. The platform's alert system actively flags potential issues, promptly notifying users of duplicate receipts. It not only streamlines the identification of irregularities but also introduces a proactive layer of fraud prevention.

You can visualize and interact with discrepancies directly on the centralized platform, turning what used to be a tedious task into a more intuitive and efficient process.

2. Speed and Accuracy 

Automation, real-time tracking, receipt capture (via optical character recognition (OCR)), approval workflows, and robust controls accelerate reconciliation cycles on Pluto. 

You need not spend a minute on a manual redundant task. The platform captures and extracts invoices from emails and WhatsApp on a centralized platform. The trigger-based workflows ensure prompt approvals without any friction. Matching documents for three-way and four-way matching simplifies with all the documents on a single tool. 

Therefore, the inherent accuracy of financial data, coupled with efficient discrepancy identification, ensures speed and reliability in the reconciliation process. 

3. Real-Time Tracking and Visibility 

Expense reconciliation tracking

Unlike conventional tracking methods, Pluto offers real-time insights through its centralized dashboard. This furnishes internal teams with immediate visibility into transactions, guaranteeing proactive adherence to company policies.

The agility provided by real-time tracking enables timely data-driven decision-making based on the latest and most accurate data.

4. Better Data Sync for a True Picture

Integrate Pluto with your ERPs

Manual data entry is prone to errors and delays, leading to discrepancies in financial records. Pluto's seamless integration with major accounting systems like Xero, Zoho, QuickBooks, Netsuite, and Dynamics ensures that the financial data is up-to-date and aligns with the organization's accounting records. This synchronization eliminates the need for manual adjustments and corrections, providing a true and accurate picture of the organization's financial status.

5. Enhanced Controls Over Processes 

Expense workflow automation

Building intricate approval workflows is simplified with Pluto. You can set up approval processes using simple if-then rules without the need for complex coding. Devise custom workflows that align perfectly with your company policies, creating a seamless and controlled process.

6. Traceable Audit Trail

Pluto maintains a traceable audit trail of all financial transactions and activities. It provides a comprehensive record of changes made to financial data. From the initiation of a transaction to any subsequent modifications, the traceable audit trail ensures transparency and accountability. This trail helps you avoid fraud and trackback discrepancies without friction.

Also, you can lock transactions post-approval, which adds an additional layer of security and integrity, facilitating smoother audits.

7. Save Time and Money

Automating financial processes, including procurement, expenses, and payables, significantly reduces manual steps in reconciliation.

Pluto's ability to capture general ledger and tax codes from expenses automates data entry. It reduces the time spent on routine reconciliation tasks. This efficiency allows finance teams to allocate resources more strategically, focusing on higher-value initiatives rather than repetitive manual tasks.

Timely financial insights help finance teams support decision-making processes with precision and confidence, fostering a data-driven financial ecosystem.

Internal Controls Strengthen Expense Reconciliation

Expense reconciliation burdens finance teams with time-consuming manual efforts and the constant threat of challenges like duplicate receipts and policy violations. These complexities lead to prolonged reconciliation cycles, hindering financial efficiency.

However, the actual progress happens when you strengthen internal control over financial reporting (ICFR), which is the anchor for successful automation in finance.  

When you embrace ICFR strategically, it bolsters internal controls, protects against risks and fraud, and sets the stage for smooth automation. The impact goes beyond just easing manual work; it promotes precision, reliability, and transparency in financial workflows. 

In simple terms, ICFR mitigates risks tied to financial inaccuracies. Read how to improve your ICFR framework for enhanced reconciliation processes.

Find out how much your business can save with Pluto

Discover your savings with Pluto's Cost Saving Calculator and take control of your expenses. Unlock cost-efficiency now!

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Learn how Pluto is helping Keyper        to eliminate petty cash spending and optimize spend management

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At Pluto Card, our mission is to assist businesses of all scales make well-informed choices. To uphold our standards, we follow editorial guidelines to guarantee that our content consistently aligns with our high-quality benchmarks.

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December 11, 2023

Vlad Falin

5 Strategies For Cost Reduction in Procurement To Improve Bottom Line

It’s challenging to always be on your toes, looking for ways to cut costs. Be it negotiation or automating manual, time-consuming processes, your main focus is always to optimize expenses and improve the bottom line. This comprises 36% of CPOs whose top priority is delivering bottom-line savings. 

Hence, in this post, we will discuss the top 5 procurement cost reduction strategies. We’ll also discuss the process of getting started and ways to improve the procure-to-pay process to ensure procurement cost savings

See a Demo

5 Cost-Saving Strategies in Procurement

Here are the top 5 cost reduction techniques in procurement that you can implement in the short and long run:

1. Reduction in Maverick Spending

Reduction in Maverick Spending

Maverick spending refers to expenses beyond the established policy and procurement process. It involves unauthorized purchasing that is either not approved or doesn't adhere to the pre-approved vendors or negotiated contracts. 

Such expenses impact financial and operational efficiency, leading to budget overruns and supplier relationship strain. For instance, an employee purchases office supplies from a non-approved vendor. It can lead to higher costs due to a lack of negotiated discounts and impact the organization's ability to leverage consolidated spending for better terms and conditions.

To reduce maverick spending, you must actively communicate procurement policies to avoid such expenses. You must monitor all the transactions and address any such instances. This requires greater visibility into the spending at each stage and an analysis of how company resources are being used. You will also need to set spending controls based on the company policies to avoid constant monitoring. 

Purchase request flow

As a result, you gain better control over the procurement process, negotiate better contracts with preferred suppliers, and leverage volume discounts without disrupting the supply chain. This will help you maintain compliance with established procurement policies and save costs by avoiding unauthorized expenses. 

2. Contract Management

Contract management involves reassessing the existing contracts and negotiating supplier agreements. This includes negotiation, execution, and ongoing monitoring to ensure cost optimization.

Contract Management

To ensure strong contract management practices, regularly revisit contract terms, assess performance metrics, and proactively identify areas for improvement. Prioritize negotiation preparation by investing in training for procurement professionals, ensuring they possess the skills to secure favorable terms and adapt agreements to evolving business needs. 

Contract management aids in maximizing the value of agreements, minimizing risk, and ensuring that suppliers deliver as per the agreed terms. It also promotes better relationship management and identifies opportunities for cost optimization.

3. Request Specification

Request Specification

Request specification involves creating clear and detailed specifications for the goods or services that the organization intends to procure. This involves detailing purchase requests and understanding the needs of the teams to deliver what they need and not spend money on unnecessary features and misfit products. This helps ensure suppliers understand the exact requirements, leading to more accurate quotes and better value for money.

To ensure detailed request specifications, involve all the stakeholders in the approval process and get buy-in from each of them. Follow a standardized approval workflow to raise purchase requests. This ensures consistency and gets the maximum information possible. However, it is important to implement customized workflows to suit your business hierarchies.

hierarchies

This reduces the risk of feature overlap and better consolidates the purchases for negotiating more favorable deals. Moreover, the specificity of needs lowers the chances of cost overruns or disputes during the procurement process.

4. Spending Consolidation

Consolidating spending means automating procurement processes to achieve economies of scale. This includes consolidating purchases, standardizing suppliers, and leveraging bulk buying power. Doing so lets you negotiate better terms with suppliers, reduce administrative overhead, and achieve cost savings through volume discounts.

For instance, if you consolidate spending on packaging materials by sourcing from a single supplier, you negotiate bulk discounts, streamline procurement processes, and benefit from standardized materials. This approach reduces costs through economies of scale, simplifies logistics, and enhances overall operational efficiency.

Spending Consolidation

To consolidate spending, conduct a thorough spend analysis, identify opportunities for consolidation, and negotiate with suppliers for better terms. Additionally, implement procurement software to streamline procurement processes. This will give you insights into your spending behaviors and help you identify optimization opportunities. Also, create a cross-functional procurement team to promote collaboration and standardization across the organization. Moreover, ensure proper cross-functional workflows to get stakeholders involved at each stage. 

5. Vendor Diversity

Vendor Diversity

Vendor diversity involves engaging with various suppliers to reduce dependency on a single source. This strategy ensures increased competition, better negotiation opportunities, and improved risk management.

For instance, having vendor diversity enables you to source materials from multiple suppliers rather than relying solely on one. This creates competition among suppliers, encouraging competitive pricing and service levels to mitigate risks associated with potential disruptions from a single supplier. Hence, in the event of supply chain challenges or fluctuations, you get the flexibility to maintain production and minimize the impact on operations.

To ensure vendor diversity, adopt a global sourcing strategy and conduct thorough market research to identify potential suppliers across the globe with clear criteria for supplier selection. Additionally, actively seek partnerships with businesses that bring unique strengths to your supply chain. Moreover, it is important to also regularly reassess and diversify your supplier portfolio to ensure adaptability to changing market dynamics. Fostering open communication to build strong, collaborative relationships with various suppliers is a must

As a result, you get better pricing, quality, and innovation. It also provides a safety net if one supplier faces disruptions or fails to meet expectations.

Three-Step Process for Cost Reduction in Procurement

Before implementing these strategies, go through this strategic process each time you have to hunt down expenses for cost savings:

1. Analyze Spend

Analyze Spend

Start by conducting a comprehensive spending analysis to understand where the money goes. Use financial records, invoices, and procurement data to categorize and analyze spending patterns. In such cases, having procure-to-pay software helps a lot in getting insights and real-time visibility.

This step provides a clear overview of the organization's spending habits, allowing identification of areas for potential cost savings. It serves as a foundation for informed decision-making in subsequent cost-reduction strategies.

2. Identify the Biggest Expense

Compare across departments or suppliers to identify the largest expenses or categories and spot any unusual expenses. This step allows for targeted efforts in cost reduction.

Discuss these insights with relevant stakeholders to understand why these costs exist and their impact. Also, align the understanding of ‘savings’ with them to avoid unnecessary delays and rejections. It is advisable to align it with something measurable to make it easier to sell the business case and implement the necessary changes. 

For instance, the information technology (IT) department proposes investing in new software that, in the long run, promises increased efficiency and reduced maintenance costs. However, the finance team, focused on immediate budget constraints, may interpret ‘savings’ as strictly short-term cost reductions rather than considering long-term benefits. 

To align understanding, the IT team can quantify long-term savings through reduced downtime, improved productivity, and potential scalability benefits. This ensures both departments share a common definition of ‘savings’ and facilitates a collaborative decision-making process.

Additionally, you can target the smaller spend or tail-end spend as well. It is easier to cut people from making one-off purchases or buying small items on Amazon that another department may have. 

3. Conduct Market Research and Maintenance

Conduct market research to understand current pricing, trends, and available alternatives for the identified major expenses. Based on your research, you can optimize these expenses without impacting the supply chain. This includes incentives such as:

  • Use spending data analysis to negotiate improved terms with suppliers. Seek discounts or bundled services to reduce costs without disrupting the supply chain.
  • Research alternative suppliers or vendors for the identified major expenses. Assess their offerings, pricing, and reliability to diversify options and secure more cost-effective alternatives.
  • Invest in automation to optimize procurement processes, reducing administrative overhead without disrupting the supply chain.
  • Analyze inventory levels and adjust ordering practices based on demand forecasts to prevent overstocking or stockouts.
  • Regularly monitor the expenses and supplier performance and reassess strategies to adjust optimization efforts based on changing market conditions and organizational needs.

Keep updating this information to stay informed about changes in the market. This ensures that you are well-informed about competitive pricing and industry trends. Additionally, you get the necessary data to negotiate better terms with suppliers, explore cost-effective alternatives, and adapt to market fluctuations, contributing to more strategic and informed decision-making.

How to Ensure Maximum Procurement Cost Reduction

Most companies have procurement processes running on autopilot with standard operating procedures. However, this leads to inconsistent efforts of procurement teams in reducing costs. They have to dedicate hours to analysis and optimization, which can be changed with intentional efforts to ongoing cost savings practices in procurement. 

However, with traditional manual processes, getting real-time visibility and comprehensive insights is impossible. To streamline the process and consolidate the expenses, you must adopt tools that support your cost savings initiative. This means centralizing all the information to build a unified platform for complete visibility and control. 

Pluto simplifies this for you. Not only do you get insights and controls, but you can also create cross-functional workflows to facilitate the collaborative procurement process. You can integrate your entire accounting and accounts payable system onto a single platform and streamline the entire process. As a result, you get real-time visibility and can optimize expenses in time.  

Book a demo to know more about how Pluto fits into your business and helps you streamline your procurement process for collaborative cost-saving efforts.

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Updates
April 4, 2024

Mohammed Ridwan

PlutoCard is Now GetPluto: Your Unified Payable Solution

PlutoCard now becomes GetPluto — your new one-stop solution for all payables.  

What's New?

After much anticipation and hard work, we're excited to announce the migration from plutocard.io to getpluto.com, a step towards redefining corporate payments.

With getpluto.com, we are extending our vision beyond providing corporate cards. 

We understand the challenges that businesses face when handling their finances. It involves more than swiping a card and filing expenses. That's why we've developed a comprehensive suite of products and features to simplify everything from procurement to payables. 

So, whether you want to streamline purchase requests, integrate your ERP without impacting costs, or manage reimbursements — getpluto.com has you covered!

Beyond Cards: The All-In-One Platform

Here's a glimpse of what Pluto has to offer:

  1. Procure-to-pay: Streamline your procurement process from purchase requests to invoice matching, all in one place.
  2. Bill management: Centralize bill management and payments for faster approvals, better vendor relationships, and more accurate two/three-way matching.
  3. Accounting ERP integrations: Sync seamlessly with major ERPs like Xero, Zoho, QuickBooks, Dynamics, and Netsuite to close your books 10X faster.
  4. Petty cash management: Digitize cash-in-hand management to eliminate leaks without losing flexibility or visibility.
  5. T&E reimbursements: Simplify travel and expense reimbursements with unlimited budget-controlled corporate cards and custom approval workflows.
  6. Corporate cards: Get budget-controlled corporate cards with built-in compliance management — from receipt capture to policy enforcement. 

“We have been using Pluto for a few months now, and we literally have everything in one place.”

~ Lee Kersen Mascarenhas, Head of Operations at BloomingBox

From Our CoFounder — Mo Aziz

Pluto's Corporate Cards have been serving the largest businesses in UAE powered by a platform built for companies of all sizes: from small-scale SMEs to businesses with 1000s of employees.

But company spending does not happen just through Corporate Cards…

At Pluto, we believe CFO & Finance teams need a unified, comprehensive platform that solves all types of corporate spending problems end-to-end.

The new Pluto is our step towards this future where UAE businesses get a best-in-class platform, helping manage company spending across Cards, Reimbursements, Invoice Management, Procurement & more.

Join Us At getpluto.com

We're excited about the possibilities that getpluto.com brings. 

We understand the importance of this change and are here to support you at every step of the way, offering a more comprehensive platform to meet all your financial needs.

Sign up for a demo or create a free account at getpluto.com today and discover how Pluto simplifies payments for—finance teams, procurement teams, and employees.

Thank you for your continued support!

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May 26, 2022

Leen Shami

We got funded!

We're thrilled to announce that Pluto closed US$6M in Seed funding in February, led by Global Founders Capital.

With GFC being the lead investors, we've had participation from several of the world's leading investment firms and entrepreneurs. Soma Capital, Graph Ventures, Adapt Ventures, Ramp, Thejo Kote (Founder of Airbase), Shaan Puri, and William Hockey (Co-founder of Plaid) were some of the few who participated.

With our Seed round, we aim to get closer to achieving our mission; to streamline company expenses for MENA businesses. 

The problem

Company spending in the MENA region is problematic, time-consuming, and frustrating. Managing company spending in MENA today is difficult, time-consuming, and frustrating, as today, companies only get a single debit or credit card.

OTPs

Today, employees all share one company credit card, which usually leads to an OTP being sent to the CFO, financial leader, or founder of the company. Most bank OTPs last from 2 to 10 minutes before they’re expired. So, if an employee doesn’t get the OTP in time, they won’t be able to complete the transaction.

Overspending

When a company credit card is issued, you cannot control spending. This means there is no way to set limits on the card to avoid being overcharged by recurring subscriptions or employees going over budget.

No visibility

You cannot get real-time visibility or instant reports on business expenses with company credit cards. This makes making informed decisions about allocating resources in real-time more challenging.

Petty cash

Banks have no ideal solution for petty cash management. Companies typically maintain a cash vault at their offices, distribute loose cash to employees, and spend countless hours collecting and matching invoices.

The solution

Introducing Pluto Card: a corporate card & spend management platform that allows MENA companies to simplify and control their business expenses.

With Pluto's software, managers can issue their employees virtual cards with spend and control limits, cards that get canceled after a one-time purchase, and cards with a recurring daily, weekly, or monthly budget.

Employees can request expenses from their managers and submit reimbursement requests by dragging and dropping receipts onto the software. This happens in real-time, where managers can view employee requests as they happen, see what is being spent and where, and gain insight into instantaneous expense reports, helping them make informed decisions.

Pretty straightforward.

Want to see Pluto in action? Sign up and get a private demo here.