When it comes to expense data, ignorance is anything but bliss

Whoever said "what you don't know can't hurt you" obviously didn't manage expenses. While more of today’s companies are using expense data insights to eradicate preventable oversights, still, too many companies are being hurt by the many unknowns of expense management. Luckily there's something they can do about it. Here are three T&E management scenarios where SMBs can use business intelligence reporting to flip the script.  

1. Where did all these extra expenses come from?

With a spreadsheet-based system, there’s no way to know for sure where the budget really stands. All the reports say it looks good, but seasoned expense managers who are forced to use subpar solutions know better.

They’ve seen the division manager submit six-months of expenses in one fell swoop before the end of the quarter. They’ve seen the budgeting lapses that had everyone scratching their head, saying, “How did nobody think of that?” Or, “How could we possibly have known that?” Or, “Do we need to send another company-wide memo that reminds everyone about that?”

It doesn’t need to be this way. With a cloud-based expense manage solution that includes mobile workflow capabilities, everyone in the organization becomes smarter, faster and more accurate. Corporate card integration, vendor automation and historical data combine to convince leaders that, when discussing the budget, conversations are based on facts rather than feelings.  

2. Why were we spending so much money on this?

For business leaders who are responsible for maximizing spend, few things are more frustrating than finding out funds have been wasted on initiatives that offer little-to-no return – especially when a dose of expense data insights would have allowed them to switch gears long ago. In a recent Entrepreneur article titled You’ll Never Control Expenses If Your Team Doesn’t Know What Anything Costs, Voices.com CEO and Founder David Ciccarelli says, “As an entrepreneur, you intuitively understand what each item means and you also inherently understand the importance of minimizing these expenses. But let me ask, have you communicated the need to minimize expenses to the rest of your team?” Ciccarelli then explains an eye-opening exercise he performed to help his team better understand how much monthly expenses are actually incurred and how they are allotted.

Today, more companies are managing effective spend by integrating expense data into CRMs and other account management systems. This data prevents companies from allocating funds toward accounts that are not likely to close or offer slim profit margins. For professional services firms that bill clients based on work performed, real-time data can prevent over staffing and non-reimbursable hours.

Companies can also quickly determine when they are spending too much on travel partners and vendors. By isolating data, companies can negotiate more favorable rates with preferred partners. Context also helps, which is why modern expense management solutions offer average prices for travel and lodging, allowing companies to realize when prices are fluctuating due to events, seasonal changes and other unforeseen circumstances.  

3. Why didn't anyone know about these new guidelines?

Being out of compliance can be very costly, and ignorance is never an acceptable excuse. In fact, when it comes to compliance there are no acceptable excuses. You are expected to follow the rules and when you don't, you are subjected to fines, penalties and added scrutiny, which eats up valuable resources.

Even if total compliance is achieved, keeping up with new policies and regulations (and implementing them into the workflow) can be an ongoing, resource-intensive exercise. Today’s expense management solutions are able to monitor regulatory changes for your specific industry, automatically adjusting for rate changes and policy procedures so you don’t have to.

When it comes to the company-specific T&E policy, employees are always knowledgeable because the rules are built into the system. But the system still allows for flexibility when spend makes sense. Using a tool like TripLink, employees can book travel outside the network while connecting spend inside expense management system, giving the account manager real-time visibility into cash flow.

Has your company been hurt by all the unknowns of expense management? You don’t have to stand for it. See how much smarter your company can be by registering for a free 30 day Concur Expense test drive.

Loading next article