I hear so often about organisations struggling to get a grip on their spending and it frustrates me that so many of them point the finger at others for this lack of control.
We see it all the time, from the MP’s expenses scandal in the UK to the overindulgence in the use of US lobbyists and the familiar lack of transparency that is a widespread blight across governments and corporates the world over. If they don’t have visibility of spending taking place across the organisation, how on earth can they expect policies to be met?
We need to tackle the problem and put the spotlight on spending. It’s about time responsible businesses realise how simple it is to take control and start using the tools available to them to get a handle on their spend.
Attitudes towards expense management are in need of an overhaul. Many organisations still issue corporate credit cards but have little or no visibility of spend on them, or alternatively rely on vast sums of petty cash for covering travel-related costs. It is still common that companies baulk at the idea of using corporate credit cards, but then expect employees to foot the bill for their travel expenses and claim the money back later.
It just doesn’t make sense – you wouldn’t ask an employee to buy office supplies using their own funds, so why ask that same employee to spend their own money on a corporate business trip and wait for the expense claim before reimbursing them?
As if juggling cash and corporate cards wasn’t enough, businesses now have to deal with the fact that mobile devices can be used to pay for anything from parking through to stationery. Gone are the days when telecoms bills were limited to voice calls and data access – the reality is that smartphones are increasingly becoming the new payment device.
This creates new challenges as business trip costs, day-to-day expenditure and general phone usage fall into different cost groups which need to be reported on separately. Given that most organisations have yet to get a handle on basic billing issues such as separating work and personal mobile calls, advanced mobile payments could potentially pose a massive headache for CFOs without the right tools in place to manage it.
Businesses need to have complete visibility of their total corporate spend – no matter where costs occur or how they are submitted. They need to pull all business expenses together under one roof, in order to streamline costs where necessary as well as drastically simplifying the claims process for managers and employees.
The technology to do this exists today, and the time is right for organisations to open their eyes and take control of their costs. Let’s ensure more businesses step away from the cumbersome processes of old and make the most of the benefits to be had from improved spend management.