Rein in Business Expenses as Your Organization Grows
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Are Business Expenses Growing Faster than Your Organization Can Manage?

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By, Bill Vergantino, President and CEO, ExpenseWatch

Business expenses are an integral part of running your company. Payments go to employees for payroll and expense reimbursements and to the vendors that provide your organization with necessary products or services. As you grow and add employees, the company spends more money overall, while the number of individuals empowered to spend money on behalf of the organization grows as well.

How a company manages spending can differ dramatically from one organization to the next, depending upon your corporate culture, the nature of your spending, and the type of business you are running.

In your ideal world, you’d like to think that money is being spent strategically and carefully to grow your business. In reality, whether you are expanding from 5-to-10 employees or 1,000-to-2,500, the growth challenges you are facing are more than likely starting to strain your organization.

Here are a few areas to consider:

  • Are more expense reports being submitted for approval and reimbursement?
  • Are purchase requisitions being circulated more regularly?
  • Do you send more invoices around to validate amounts and gain approvals before vendors are paid?
  • Do you spend time sending these documents back and forth to fix errors or out-of-policy spending?
  • Is your finance team spending time trying to find out who actually ordered the goods or service so an invoice can be approved?

If the answer is yes to any of the above questions, it may be time to revisit your spending policies and processes so you can rein in business expenses before your organization is strained even more.

As companies grow, most respond to how they manage spending in one of the three ways:

  1. Sometimes organizations respond to the sense that they may be losing control by limiting the number of people through which all spending occurs. I’ve seen $500M in revenue organizations require all expenditures over $1,000 to receive the COO’s written approval. This can cause frustration by those wanting more timely approvals and payment, while the increased workload can overwhelm the few trying to handle the growing demand of their time.
  2. Other companies take the opposite approach. They try to make employees and vendors happy by reimbursing and paying in a timely fashion, but do so at the expense of ensuring that policies are being enforced and payment amounts are accurate.
  3. Finally, some companies look to modify their processes to enable a more efficient way of maintaining control, while not slowing the business down.

We all need to spend money to support our companies’ successful growth. No matter how you decide to evolve your processes to accommodate growth, the one key element for success should be enabling spend requests, spend approvals, and payment processes to be as effective and efficient as possible for everyone involved, while not compromising the company’s need to maintain visibility and control of spending.

If you are like most companies, you begin to look at technology and manpower solutions when you see signs that your organization is straining to keep up with growth. Fortunately, relatively inexpensive software solutions are available that can automate spending processes and streamline how your organization manages business expenses.

The good news is that these solutions empower everyone who has a part in your organizations’ spending to spend with confidence. Here’s what we mean:

Submitters of expense reports, purchase request or payable invoices can quickly create and submit spend transactions with documentation. They can see what is and is not in policy and are assured that their managers will receive notification that transactions are awaiting approval.

Managers assigned to approve spending have visibility to everything that is important to them to make informed approval decisions. For example, views can be set up to see any transactions that are out of policy, or that go over the current month or year’s budget, enabling managers to approve or reject based upon your company’s specific spending policy.

Accounting departments charged with dispersing funds can efficiently facilitate payment of spend obligations using the payment systems your organization uses, such as ACH, payroll for expense reimbursement, or checks from your accounting system.

Executives and managers have ready access to reports to analyze spending and can be assured that policy is being enforced. These reports can be designed to meet your company’s specific needs and can be delivered at specific times. What’s more you have clear visibility into spending that has occurred, is awaiting payment, or is in the pipeline waiting to be approved or paid. This visibility enables you to shut down spending before money is committed should you need to make adjustments mid-stream.

Administrators assigned to manage the spend control system have the flexibly to configure and manage the solution to suit the individual needs of your business. You have the ability to inject your corporate culture into your spending policy to enable stricter or looser controls, while still providing your employees with clear direction on what you would like to see happen. There are so many toggles and switches you can pull to make the system reflect your intentions for how you strategically want your company to grow.

The bottom line is that by empowering your employees to spend knowing they are in policy and working to meet your organizational goals, they can stay focused upon their core business activities.

 From our experience, it is often one specific area that causes your organization to look for a solution to manage company spending, whether it be streamlining expense reporting, putting in a purchasing system or managing the myriad invoices submitted by vendors. We would recommend you consider solutions to automate your most challenging spending process today, but that can also grow with you as you consider alternatives that can go beyond just one area of spend control. This is what many of our customers do. Once they have implemented one module to address the most problematic spending process they have at the moment, they then go on to implement our other modules and appreciate the benefits from having one solution that provides automation, visibility and control over all spending throughout their organization.

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