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5 Strategies For Cost Reduction in Procurement To Improve Bottom Line

Vlad Falin

December 11, 2023

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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

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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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Spend Management
November 12, 2022

Leen Shami

Expense Management; Definition, Types & Tips

Effective expense management is a critical aspect of any organization's financial health, ensuring smooth operation through controlled employee spending. Employees frequently incur various business expenses, from travel and entertainment to office supplies. To facilitate reimbursement, these expenses must be meticulously reported with detailed descriptions and receipts, subsequently reviewed and approved by line managers and finance teams. This process, central to expense management, not only streamlines how employees pay for business expenses but also provides a comprehensive track of their spending through organized expense reports.

What is expense management?

Expense management is the process of tracking, processing, and reimbursing employee spending. This involves scrutinizing expense reports, evaluating reimbursement claims, and enforcing company policies on permissible expenses. It is a key practice in ensuring adherence to the organization's expense policy while maintaining accurate financial records.

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Why is expense management important?

As an essential part of any business, expense management is vital for various segments of a company, such as the following:

1. Finance teams

An expense management process is the most important to a finance team or accounting department. Their main goal is to sustain accurate business financial records and analyze past trends to determine future business decisions.

Additionally, it can help identify cost-saving opportunities and risks by providing insights into the company's financial health.

2. C-level executives & managers

Owners, managers, or C-levels are more concerned about growing revenue, managing risk, reducing expenses, satisfying employees, and having a productive business.

3. Employees

Having reimbursements processed quickly creates a feeling of trust and satisfaction among employees. This greatly influences the productivity of your employees and your company.

4. Compliance

Maintaining detailed records of your business expenses ensures that your company stays compliant and assists companies in audit activity in case of fraudulent behavior.

Nevertheless, with the corporate income tax being introduced in 2023, expense management makes it simpler for businesses to file their taxes.

Expense management process

The expense management process is designed to safeguard against policy violations and mishaps, and it typically follows a uniform sequence across most businesses:

  1. Employee Expenditure: An employee makes a purchase for business purposes.
  2. Reimbursement Claim Submission: The employee submits a claim for reimbursement of the incurred expense.
  3. Claim Review: The submitted claim is reviewed and either approved or rejected.
  4. Payment Processing: Upon approval, the reimbursement is scheduled, often aligning with the employee's End-of-Month (EOM) salary.

Types of expense management

Approaches to expense management may differ from company to company. Here you'll find the different ways in which expenses are managed:

1. Paper tracking

Employees collect paper receipts and submit them to the accounting department for approval monthly or quarterly. This is the traditional (and outdated) method of managing expenses.

2. Spreadsheets

Businesses, especially in the UAE, usually use spreadsheets to manage their expenses and reduce dependency on paper receipts. Some common spreadsheet software is Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and Zoho Sheets.

3. Expense management software

An expense management software simplifies the process for companies by automating it. After an employee makes an expense, the managers are alerted to either accept or reject the expense. If the expense is accepted, it is usually scheduled to be reimbursed with the employee's EOM salary.

4. Pluto: Automated expense management software

Pluto is an expense management software that helps accounting teams save time by automating reimbursements, expense reporting, expense tracking, and budget control.

When a business expense is made, a Whatsapp notification is sent to the employee, prompting them to upload their receipt by snapping a photo; this also simplifies the reconciliation process. When that is done, the admin/manager is notified to accept or reject the expense. If the expense is accepted, it is reimbursed to the employee's bank account in seconds.

On the other hand, Pluto gives you the ability to create unlimited corporate cards with spend limits so you won't have to go through an approval workflow.

Real-time expense reports are also one of the many benefits Pluto offers, helping finance teams, CFOs and accountants make informed decisions. Learn how to improve internal control over financial reporting on our new post.

Pluto's overview dashboard

Traditional vs. automated expense management

Despite the benefits of automated expense management, a large percentage of organizations in the UAE still perform manual expense management. This leads to expense reports that are time-consuming and prone to error.

Traditional expense management

Traditional expense management is one expense management process that relies on several steps to manage spending and ensure the process for an expense claim is correct. As an expense management solution, expense tracking is usually in the form of paper tracking or excel sheets, as mentioned above.

Typically, once employee-initiated expenses are made, the employee must store the expense receipts and file them as reimbursable expenses at the end of the month when the accounting department is doing the end-of-month closing. After the expenses are submitted, the approval process begins. The employee's manager either accepts or rejects the reimbursable expense; if it is accepted, it is sent to the accounting team for reimbursement.

This is considered a nightmare for accounting departments, as they will have to go through manual data entry and spend countless hours on expense reporting at the end of month closing.

Automated expense management

Unlike traditional expense management, automated expense management software reduces time spent on processing expense reports, managing the business's cash flow, reconciliation processing, and controlling expenses incurred for finance teams.

Automated spend management software, such as Pluto, eliminates the manual process and automates the process for finance teams from A-Z. With expense management software like Pluto, you can automate different flows.

Benefits of using an expense management software like Pluto

1. Automate Reimbursements

Pluto helps you manage expenses incurred by digitizing the reimbursement process. Once an expense is made, Pluto sends you a Whatsapp notification prompting you to upload your receipt by replying to the Whatsapp or by uploading it onto the Pluto app. Once that is done, the expense record is saved, so employees don't lose it, and the expense is submitted for approval.

As an added perk, Pluto also auto-categorizes expenses made so employees and finance teams won't have to worry about categorization!

2. Streamline expense reporting

With Pluto, all expense records are in one place, meaning expense reports are automated; this helps accounting departments save hundreds of hours on manual work.

Additionally, expense reports are trackable in real-time, giving managers, finance teams, and accounting departments complete visibility over the business's finances.

Real-time expense reports on Pluto

3. Accounting automation

Close your books 5x faster!

Whether you use Zoho expense, SAP Concur, or Quickbooks, your accounting software can integrate directly with Pluto's platform.

Through our integration, you can also sync your chart of accounts and your GL codes to automate bookkeeping.

Accounting integrations with Pluto

4. Smart budget control

Pluto allows you to issue your employees unlimited corporate cards with spend control. If you have daily allowances, weekly budgets, or travel expenses, you can get better control over your employee spending by setting custom limits on their corporate credit cards.

Expense management advantages for business

If you've reached this far, you might already know the advantages of automated expense management.

1. Accurate expense reporting

  • Real-time, automated expense reports
  • Sort reports by day, week, month, or by department, or category

2. Quick reimbursements

  • Faster approval process for employees and finance teams
  • Auto-categorization when uploading receipts

3. Monitor employee spending

  • See what is being spent and where in real-time
  • Set daily, weekly, or monthly allowances

4. Close books faster

  • Integrate with all major accounting software to close your books 5x faster
  • Sync your GL codes

What is an expense management policy?

Employee spending can be controlled by implementing an expense management policy. The policy can function as grounds for rejecting or questioning expenses and help determine whether they should be reimbursed.

In every expense management policy, the following items should be included:

Types of expenses

 A complete list of everything employees may purchase and what they may not purchase.

Budgets

The current budget should be disclosed to everyone, and those with questions should be able to contact those responsible.

Reimbursements

 A reimbursement policy must specify the reimbursement method, such as online, by credit card, or by other payment methods.

Key features to look for in an expense management software

If you're purchasing an expense management solution, make sure it fills your company's unique needs, offers the right level of functionality, and comes with a dedicated account manager.

Some of the key features you should be looking for are:

1. Real-time expense tracking and reporting

Having real-time expense reports is vital, as it helps finance teams monitor employees' expenses and manage them on the go.

For example, if the company's marketing department uses 70% of its monthly budget in the first two weeks of the month, the finance team can notify them that 70% of the budget has been used so they can plan and budget for the remaining 30%.

With Pluto, you can:

  • Get notified as soon as an expense is made, so you know who spends what, where, and when
  • Keep track of all business expenses, such as reimbursement, travel, and employee expenditure data, to avoid going over budget

2. Quick reimbursements

End-to-end reimbursements are crucial for a business to operate seamlessly. With quick end-to-end reimbursements, employees no longer have to wait till payroll to get reimbursed.

With Pluto, you can:

  • File a reimbursement request through Whatsapp or the Pluto app
  • Get reimbursed in seconds

3. Approval flows

Approval processes should be hassle-free. It's essential to have automated approval flows to ensure employee expenses and expense claims are approved by the right managers.

With Pluto, you can:

  • Automatically assign expenses to the right reviewer
  • Create your own customized approval flow
Approval workflows with Pluto

4. Integration with accounting software

Integrating your accounting platform with your expense management software reduces the time spent on bookkeeping.

With Pluto, you can:

  • Integrate most major accounting platforms
  • Sync your chart of accounts
  • Sync your GL codes
  • Close your books 5x faster

5. Customizable budget control

Setting limits and budgets is essential to control your company's financials fully. This helps your company stay within its budget and avoid mishaps with company spending.

With Pluto, you can:

  • Create unlimited corporate cards with set limits
  • Increase limits on corporate cards in seconds
  • Issue vendor-specific cards
Spend limits & vendor specific payments with Pluto corporate cards

Pluto combines the above features with easy integrations, complete visibility, and total control over every aspect of your company's expense management.

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Spend Management
November 14, 2022

Vlad Falin

What is Spend Management? Importance, Benefits & Process

In the realm of business operations, effective spend management is crucial for maintaining a healthy financial bottom line. Businesses grappling with inefficient spending control face risks that can substantially impact their financial stability. 

For example, poor invoicing practices that cause a delay in payment can lead to contract management issues or, even worse, a lost client for your business. It also might cause issues with some of your preferred suppliers if they feel they’re not being paid on time. 

Making a slip-up that disrupts a subscription can mean your company lacks access to critical software or tools until the issue is fixed.

A poor expense report system means charges incurred on your business trip might result in many follow-up questions, so your accounts payable team is on the same page with purchase orders. A system without real-time visibility for spending data is not ideal for any organization and does not make it easy to reduce spend.

Intelligent spend management helps prevent these issues. A business uses spend management to comprehensively track and review organizational-wide spending and purchase orders down to the last dirham. 

In this post we will deep dive into spend management and discuss the best ways to properly manage it. 

What is spend management?

Spend management refers to the systematic process of tracking, analyzing, and controlling an organization's total expenditure. It encompasses all aspects of business spending, including invoicing, contract management, subscription services, and expense reporting. 

The goal of spend management is to enhance financial stability by providing real-time visibility into all financial transactions and purchase orders. This comprehensive approach enables businesses to identify inefficiencies, reduce unnecessary expenses, and maintain strong relationships with suppliers and clients.

The Importance Of Spend Management

Effective spend management is crucial for a company's financial health and operational efficiency. Neglecting careful expenditure tracking or allowing excessive indirect spending can lead to significant revenue loss, risking even the most well-planned business strategies. Managing costs and enhancing efficiency becomes challenging when financial processes are time-intensive and complex.

A report by McKinsey highlights the critical nature of this issue, noting that external spending on suppliers typically represents 40-80% of a company's total expenses. This statistic underscores the vital importance of meticulous spending control. Furthermore, the process of reviewing and optimizing expenditures can have a substantial impact on employee workloads, indicating the far-reaching effects of spend management.

Adopting robust spend management practices enables companies to achieve greater financial stability and avert potential crises. Implementing a system that tracks and monitors all financial transactions ensures that expenditures are fully accounted for, reducing the likelihood of wastage. In summary, efficient spend management is not just about cost control; it is a strategic approach that influences every aspect of a company's operations and contributes significantly to its long-term success.

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Advantages Of Digital Spend Management

In this day and age, using an online tool to keep track of your expenses should be a no-brainer. Let’s have a look at some of the main advantages.

1. Insight Into Everyday Expenditures 

Where is every dirham your company makes going? If you don’t know, digital spend management will dramatically strengthen financial accountability, budgeting, and expenses. In addition, reporting on where company funds are flowing makes it much simpler to see how different department heads oversee budgets. Read more on how to improve internal control over financial reporting.

2. Stronger Financial Controls 

Spend management tools like Pluto, allow you to not only monitor your spending in real-time but also set the limits on the go. In addition to that you can issue cards for departments or individuals, and even focus them on a particular type of usage, such as specific vendors only. 

spend management

3. Budget optimization 

Effective spend management is a great solution to ensure a better-looking budget. Analyzing and managing spending makes it simple to find and cancel unneeded services, negotiate lower prices with new supplier contracts, and never have to pay a late fee again. It will also significantly help your board of directors as they’ll have a simplified, streamlined budget to review and discuss at the start of the year. 

Common Spend Management Challenges 

It’s easy to pursue spend management practices that hurt your business’s bottom line if you’re not careful. Many ‘traditional’ best practices might not fit companies with remote-first work policies, engage in cutting-edge industries, or have an unorthodox structure.

If your company has a dynamic structure, spend management becomes all the more important to help you keep up with the competition and get the most value out of every dirham spent. 

Keep these potential challenges in mind as you pursue spend management practices. 

1. Relying On Old Spending Data

Be wary of relying on old budgets or financial data when managing more spend. It’s challenging for leadership to identify problem areas with cash inflows or outflows, when they only have outdated information.

2. Over reliance On Manual Mapping 

Having to go back at the end of the month to match spending to budgets manually can take an inordinate amount of hours and opens the door to errors and mistakes that can throw off a spend management policy. 

Pluto helps to automatically match spend to budgets in real-time, ensuring accounting and finance teams have accurate updates. 

3. Harnessing Too Much Technology

Modern financial software can dramatically help your company’s day-to-day operational flow. However, if these solutions do not work together, chaos can ensue which leads to data migration and processing errors. Pluto integrates with your accounting tools, cutting the data flow time significantly. 

4. Outdated Processes

The post-COVID world of remote and digital work means your employees might be scattered across the globe and in different time zones. Having to arrange shared corporate cards manually or coordinate team spending with employees in different locations can be tricky. Pluto offers unlimited virtual cards, which allow you to provide a payment channel for any employee anywhere in the world. 

spend management challenges

How To Improve Your Spend Management Process

Optimizing your spend management process might seem tricky at first glance. Fortunately, small and large businesses often rely on the same core strategies to optimize spending. 

1. Rely On Spend Management Software: Pluto can help automatically track expenses, keep abreast of budgeting, and help manage strategic sourcing. CEOs and CFOs then have relevant, real-time data at their fingertips to see where their company is financially. 

2. Focus On A Few Payment Methods: Do you have too many company cards in your pocket? It might be time to streamline purchasing methods to help simplify your spend management strategy. For example, your business can dramatically improve expense tracking by asking employees to only use company cards for business expenses instead of asking for their personal cards to be reimbursed. 

3. Have An Organized Approval Process: You can clarify your spending process (you might want to check our post on how to create a corporate card policy)  by ensuring employees have a clear hierarchy of how and by whom purchases need to be approved. If your team is unclear, they might complicate the payment process by not filing the right reports, which means your financial team could be left in the dark about purchases. 

6 Efficient Spend Management Strategy Tips

Your company needs to optimize its spend management strategy to ensure the final results lead to reduced procurement costs, improved efficiency, and streamlined workflows. 

Spend management best practices also help improve vendor relationships and communication, procure the optimal goods and services your business needs, and even help you earn volume and early payment discounts due to more effective and simplified financial practices. 

Keep the following steps in mind for the best results regardless of your organization’s industry or size. 

1. Calculate Expenses

Do you know exactly where employees spend company funds? If not, you’ll need to build a comprehensive list of company expenses, suppliers, and entities where funds are going. 

This might quickly become a challenge if you’re in charge of a large business. If so, look to designate specific team members to review employee salaries, utilities, marketing, training, and all other day-to-day expenses to have the most detailed list. 

You can’t improve what you do not measure. You can use Pluto to get a firm grip on your expenses. Pluto allows you to monitor and control your expenses so you clearly see how much was spent in which category. 

2. Confirm Data

You’ll want to ensure all accrued expense data is accurate and can be cross-checked with receipts and inventory records. Ensuring transaction data is precise, and expense lists are free of duplicates, spelling mistakes, and other mistakes makes the entire spend management process more efficient. 

Take this step extremely seriously if your company spend practices have relied on more manual processing methods. Standardization ensures that multiple currencies, formatting differences, and other nuances are accounted for when looking at spend analysis data. 

(Goes without saying that when using Pluto this is all pre-done for you!)

3. Categorize Information

While optimal spend management brings all expenditures under a single umbrella to review, your team will still want to categorize expenses into various groups to make reviewing and making adjustments across different departments simpler. 

It’s usually best to categorize expenses in multiple ways to understand where money is going. Pluto allows you to categorize expenses both through specialized cards or just by tagging, so everything is nicely grouped together when it is review time. 

spend management strategy

4. Review Expenses

A well-thought-out process of calculating, verifying, and categorizing spending information will simplify your entire review process when you’re looking at spend data. 

You should immediately be able to spot expenses that are anomalies or recurring spending that might be able to be cut out from the start. 

Pluto’s dashboard can give you a high level but also a detailed view, so you can clearly identify trends and separate expenses.

5. Devise A Strategy

You’ll want to move decisively once you’ve identified potential changes to spending habits and department budgeting approaches. 

It might seem difficult at first glance to start reducing budgets, cutting out vendors, or make other dramatic changes to your company’s budget and expense habits. Rely on good change management practices and your leadership team to cultivate employee and stakeholder buy-in to any adjustments.

6. Practice Good Data Forecasting

Keep updating your expense data as you make a budget and spending adjustments. Doing so keeps your team on top of where funds are going and can help forecast different spending scenarios and how they might impact your business’s bottom line. 

Keeping data and information updated becomes particularly important if your expenses grow to ensure financial operations run smoothly. Don’t forget to cultivate supplier relationships if you work with different vendors for optimal inventory management.

Should You Rely On Spend Management Software? 

Manually processing expense claims, keeping up with petty cash, and tracking company credit cards can quickly turn inefficient, hinder your company’s financial management, and inhibit the overall procurement process.

In contrast, the right spend analysis solution can aid real-time expense tracking, provide easy-to-read charts and graphs of high-level expenses, and capture and store financial-related documents, so your finance team members are not scrambling to find a receipt or report. 

Pluto has a multitude of features including procurement software and account payable that will help you with spend management and make spend control much easier.

1. Flexibility

Pluto allows you to create cards for various purposes, edit spending limits on the go and monitor your expenses in real time. This allows you to scale up or down depending on what your business needs at any given moment.

2. Powerful Analytics

With Pluto, you will be able to track spending patterns and areas of high expenditure and get real-time insights into your business finances. The powerful analytics will help you make better decisions about where to allocate your resources.

3. Ease Of Use

The main bottleneck of many spend management platforms is that the employees do not use them - as it is just too time-consuming. Not with Pluto!  The sleek and user-friendly interface makes expense management a breeze.

4. Simplified Reimbursements

Receipt upload and reimbursements can be quite a burden for the team. Pluto allows you to take pictures of receipts with your phone and just add them to your reimbursements list. With the use of categories and tags, you will be able to both submit and review them in record time!

Key Takeaways For Company Spending

Spend management remains an essential component of all organizations regardless of size. Accountability for every dirham flowing in and out ensures your company maximizes revenue and remains growth-focused, no matter the budget.

You can take the first step today by relying on Pluto and processes to establish control over budgets, track spending, manage payments, cut costs, and boost your financial team’s day-to-day operations and processes.

5
All
Corporate Cards
October 5, 2022

Vlad Falin

Corporate Card Management: Guide for 2024

The realities of the modern business world require companies to keep a tight hold on their spend management.

We’re not just talking about how you track expenses or reconcile your debts; that’s basic stuff. No, we’re talking about the entire process, from deciding who has the spend rights to analyzing how business spending affects your cash flow and taxes.

The more your business expands, the more crucial (and complex) your expense management process becomes. Spending analysis allows you to correct imbalances, watch for fraud and employee theft, and prepare for regulatory filings.

However, it’s also a cumbersome, time-consuming process that, without the use of the proper platform, requires quite a bit of man-hours to complete.

Modern spend and card management needs to be more sophisticated, intuitive, and built on the needs of finance teams, accountants, CFOs, owners, and employees!

That’s why, at Pluto, we firmly believe in the power of proper corporate card management. Establishing clear policies, outlining appropriate spending limits, and designing airtight analysis protocols can keep your finances in check.

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Modern Corporate Credit Card Programs

Traditionally, businesses relied on employee reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses to facilitate team and department spending. While using employees to frontload business costs helps with float, it also creates potential hardships and liabilities.

Moreover, the process of submitting, reimbursing, and properly cataloging expenses is grotesquely time-consuming for your finance team.

In part, corporate credit cards were designed to take the pressure off corporate finance teams. They make expense management easier, simplify spending procedures, and digitize the bulk of your spending.

Managing corporate credit cards can get quite complex. Adding new cardholders, suspending or closing accounts, or untangling business and personal expenses could take hours of paperwork and phone calls.

But it does not have to be like that. At Pluto, we leveraged our corporate experience, had countless talks with our users, and came up with solutions to every bottleneck of card management.

On-demand corporate cards

For employees to be able to make business expenses, they will need a corporate p card. In our day and age, most of their spending will be online.

Pluto provides you with an unlimited number of virtual cards that can be easily issued right from the dashboard.

If a physical card is needed, you will go through the same simple process, and the card will be delivered to you in just a couple of days.

Receipt Capture and Expense Tracking

Corporate credit cards feed your business expenses into a centralized monthly report. With Pluto, submitting a receipt is as easy as taking a picture with your phone, literally.

When the expense is submitted, it is immediately reflected in the account report.

These reports provide each department head and finance team with the visibility needed to:

  • Link credit card transactions to the right employee
  • Crackdown on overspending
  • Maintain business-wide cashflows
  • Maximize efficiency

With Pluto, you can easily filter through various expenses, check which expenses are still pending, and see the details of that particular spending team-wide.

Increased Flexibility

Corporate cards also provide businesses with the flexibility to take the approach that suits their needs. For instance, your business may assign corporate cards only to key employees and management or traveling employees.

Workers who make only occasional purchases can use Pluto virtual or pre-loaded cards with one-time or limited spend codes.

Ultimately: More Control

Aside from these perks, company credit cards allow you to maximize your data collection and improve your analytics.

You can use this information to curb unnecessary spending, generate insights, and even negotiate better rates with vendors.

But without a proper corporate card management program in place, it’s all too easy for the system to turn upside-down.

What is Corporate Card Management, and Why is it Important?

A corporate card management platform allows business leaders to proactively wrangle company expenditure concerns from multiple fronts.

But to keep everything running smoothly, you also need a well-designed corporate card policy that ensures you are not limiting employees in their work while you are tracking the expenses.

Using corporate cards for operational expenses allows your team to work more efficiently—no more complicated approval processes when buying an online subscription or plane tickets.

But to achieve the balance between flexibility and control, you must have a corporate card management policy. Good corporate card programs:

  • Outline rules for use, such as where and how much employees may spend.
  • Capitalize on issuer-provided controls to set spending limits.
  • Monitor and analyze employee cash flow to minimize inefficiencies.
  • Are quick to catch or counteract employee or outside fraud.
  • Simplify real-time expense reporting.
  • Save time and money by reducing or eliminating physical paperwork.

Above all, a responsible management program frees up resources, putting money back on your balance sheet.

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Best Practices for Efficient Corporate Credit Card Management

The key to managing corporate cards successfully is setting expectations, communicating responsibilities, and setting controls for employee and employer accountability.

Whether you set card limits, lock and unlock cards, issue virtual cards, or code and track expenditures daily is up to you.

Just as long as you design a system that balances control and comfort.

Set Up a Corporate Card Policy

Your company policy should:

  • Set expectations and communicate cardholder responsibilities
  • Lay out eligibility requirements to receive a card
  • Set spend limits for teams, departments, or specific expenditures
  • Outline the process for submitting receipts
  • Establish clear review and penalty processes for violating these rules

Written properly, your policy should ensure everyone understands their rights and responsibilities. 

Decide Which Employees Will Get Cards

One of the most important components of managing your corporate cards is deciding who receives them.

At first, you may want to stick with assigning cards to upper-level management or department heads. But as your business grows, you may enact policies to permit other employees to receive cards conditionally or permanently, such as your sales team.

Ensuring your cards are in the right hands for the right reasons gives your employees a sense of flexibility and responsibility.

Consider Virtual Cards

You might consider issuing virtual cards when an employee may need one-time or limited access to a corporate card.

With Pluto, you can issue unlimited virtual cards in a matter of minutes and set spending limits as needed.

So the time from the employee request to delivering the virtual card credentials is minimal.

Set Budgets for Each Team and Department

Clear budgets take the guesswork out of reconciling your expenses and provide a “pool” of funds for teams to pull from.

These controls can help curb spending while still providing the funds your business needs to succeed.

Separate Personal and Corporate Expenses

When you design your budgets, it’s crucial to ensure employees know what constitutes a business expense and what doesn’t.

For instance, some companies provide generous food allotments for traveling employees, while others limit corporate card spending to hotel and transportation expenses. In this instance, employees purchasing their own meals would qualify as a personal expense.

You also want to clarify that employees can’t use their company cards for personal expenses that don’t relate to business. Even if they plan to repay you, it must be clear that the corporate card can not be used for these matters.

Have Limits on Cards and Spending Categories

Another way to crack down on corporate card expenses is by setting limits. With Pluto you can set limits when creating a new card, or adjust the limits on the go. 

Review these limits regularly to make sure that everyone has limits that are sufficient to support them in their work. 

Make Expense Reporting Simple

The card expense reporting process shouldn’t take you hours. Submitting an expense in Pluto is a matter of just a couple of clicks.

Pluto card expense submission

Drag and drop the receipt into Pluto, add a couple of details and that is it. This efficiency ensures that employees submit all their expenses on time. 

Document Every Purchase – Digitize Receipt Management

When it comes to your expense policy, your corporate credit card statement isn’t reliable enough.

Mandating receipt uploads means that you can verify the accuracy of each transaction for internal and tax-related purposes.

But in the modern world, many vendors are moving away from physical receipts that tear, smudge, or blow away in the wind.

For these instances, consider setting up a corporate email address to provide all-digital vendors.

And for expenses that do generate physical receipts - Pluto allows you to simply take a picture of the receipt with your phone and upload it to the expense management system!

Monitor Employee Spending Habits

One enormous benefit of corporate cards is the sheer transparency involved.

Every transaction is recorded and automatically categorized, allowing you to monitor corporate card expenses using credit card statements. You can also use this information to identify overindulgent employees and limit any unscrupulous spending habits.

But don’t just wait for the statements to show up monthly. Pluto allows you to proactively set alerts, notifications, and monitor transaction activity, helping you catch problems before they snowball, such as “double-dipping.” (Submitting the same expense twice, by mistake or intent.)

Analyze Expense Reports Regularly

Another facet of corporate card expense reporting is regularly analyzing your reports.

With Pluto, businesses can sort expenditures by vendor, department, employee, or internal expense codes.

Sorting and analyzing your expense reports ensures that even if you have dozens of cards floating around, you can readily monitor and manage the ins and outs.

Integrate with Your Accounting Software

The best way to unlock your corporate cards’ potential is by integrating expense software with your accounting software.

Doing so feeds each corporate credit card expense right into your accounting log, saving hundreds of hours entering, verifying, and double-checking that your corporate card statements match actual business expenses.

Pluto allows you to integrate with all major accounting software.

Key Takeaways

  • Efficient corporate card management requires you to use a platform that will allow you to have complete spend control and flexibility.
  • This is where Pluto comes in – our platform provides you with all the features and tools necessary to fully manage your corporate card spending.
  • A corporate card usage policy is another critical element to keeping spending under control – by setting clear guidelines on what can and cannot be purchased with corporate cards, you can avoid unnecessary expenses.
  • Finally, effective communication and training for employees will ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to using corporate cards responsibly.

 

Corporate Cards FAQs 

What is a Corporate Card Program?

A corporate card program issues cards to – and establishes rules for – employees who make purchases for a business.

These purchases can range from buying office supplies to airline tickets. Corporate card programs set guidelines for who can use a card, their spend allowance, and the expense reporting process, among other facets.

What is the Advantage of a Corporate Card?

Corporate credit cards offer multiple advantages, including:

  • Eliminating cumbersome reimbursement programs
  • Centralizing your expense management system
  • Integrating expense tracking features to simplify taxes
  • Restricting employee spend based on spend limits, vendors, or products
  • Reducing potential delays in the reconciliation process

Plus, many corporate cards connect to accounting software to allow businesses to slash time and hours wasted on expense report management.

What is Corporate Card Expense Management?

Expense management refers to the systems that organizations use to track, review, and pay for business and employee expenses.

Keeping expense management processes tightly controlled ensures that businesses can reconcile their balance sheets.

These expenses include any purchases an employee makes to improve the business, from office supplies to business travel costs.

Often, modern expense reports reflect tons of digital items too, like subscriptions and cloud space.

What is Corporate Card Reconciliation?

The corporate card reconciliation process verifies that corporate card statements match a company’s general ledger.

Businesses rely on these processes to validate transactions, keep expenses reasonable, and prevent fraud. (Not to mention, reconciling the books is essential - come tax time.)

With reports that Pluto generates, the work is minimal. You issue corporate cards, put limits on them, and all the receipts and transactions are stored in the Reimbursement report.

Who is Responsible for a Company Credit Card?

From a legal and liability standpoint, employers and businesses are responsible for all expenses charged to a corporate credit card.

That said, businesses may outline use cases in which an employee is responsible for repaying their own charges, such as when they make personal purchases on their employer’s dime.