3 Ways Technology Can Modernize Employee Spend for State and Local Government

Constantly reshaping the global economy, technology has changed the way we run business. We can now deliver more services, communicate to customers through a variety of devices, and even increase internal efficiencies – such as, developing higher levels of employee engagement which can further increase productivity.


Despite these clear benefits, the adoption of new technology within the state and local government has been somewhat slow. Preliminary excuses include anywhere from limited public resources to an abundance of regulatory restrictions, but a GCN survey found that 47-percent of state and local government employees say it’s actually due to a lack of leadership prioritization. In fact, 80-percent of respondents in the same survey stated their agency was not open to adopting a cloud-based solution. 

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But state and local agencies won’t be able to put it off for long. As old processes are becoming increasingly frustrating for employees to deal with, the pressures to adopt modernized technologies – like cloud applications, data analytics, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) – in government are on the rise. Critical to tackle and impossible to ignore, CFOs begin to search for viable solutions.


Employee-initiated expense challenges solved with technology

The second largest employee expenditure next to payroll, employee-initiated spend is one of the largest transactional aspects of government spending. But a recent survey from GCN discovered that only 16-percent of public sector employees reported having access to cloud web-based systems for submitting expenses. So how are they tracking spend instead? The same survey reported that 40-percent of public sector employees are still using pen and paper, making expenses difficult to track, prone to errors, and vulnerable to risk.


Fortunately, technology can help relieve these common pain points. “Automating internal processes and turning to cloud-based solutions is an easy and effective way to improve transparency and redirect efforts to citizen-facing programs,” Matt Gibbons, Senior Director of government and contractor sales at SAP Concur states, “which is critical for state and local governments that face tighter budgets.” Better control and reduced spending are just a few of the many areas that technology can help when it comes to automating expenses.


How technology can revolutionize your employee spend management process

Gibbons believes that automation is a key component to building the transparency, efficiency, and employee satisfaction that survey respondents said they crave. By simplifying and reducing the manual steps, agencies can focus more of their time on fulfilling strategic initiatives rather than approving expenses. But just how does expense software achieve this? Automate the process, collect the data, and start putting useful insights to work and your organization will see the difference. Follow these steps to revolutionize your government organization’s employee spend.


1. Control employee spend, reduce costs

Employees are spending more money, across more spend categories, using more payment methods than ever before. That’s more vendors and suppliers to keep tabs on and more payment methods to approve and record. Just imagine how complex this gets, especially when paper and receipts start to build-up and you can’t locate where you put that one expense report… So how is it possible to keep up with the multitude of growing data within the spend industry?


Here’s the solution: Technology that helps manage employee-initiated spend can eliminate paper and make it easy for employees to enter, track, manage, and audit expenses with just a few clicks. With a mobile application, you can easily manage expenses anytime, anywhere, saving you time and improving employee satisfaction. Take photos of receipts on-the-go and automatically generate expenses to give employees time back in their day so they can get back to doing what they do best.


Stop chasing paper receipts. Streamline expense, travel, and invoice technology to better manage employee spend:

  • Automate expenses from receipt to reimbursement
  • Proactively manage spend with AP automation
  • Turn employee spend data into actionable insights
  • Reduce costs and identify waste


2. Increase productivity, achieve scalability

Tracking employee spend data by hand is slow and tedious. GCN found that more than 80-percent of public-sector respondents said it takes two weeks or more for expenses to be approved. In today’s modern workforce, two weeks is quite a long time. Technology is changing the expectations for how work gets done, and it’s not just the digital natives. Now all generations are accustomed to and expect, simple and easy-to-use experiences at work.


Here’s the solution: Whether you’re on the road or at the office, automated and mobile technologies can help improve employee satisfaction and increase your productivity. Automated budget, expense, and audit technologies can quickly process employee spend data and notify you of any suspicious transactions – all while staying on top of budget to avoid overspend. At the same time, traveling employees can actively update new expenses through mobile devices and receive faster reimbursements. Phew, finally. Mobile itineraries can also help employees stay updated, on-time, and safe when plans go awry. Consider some of these tips when it comes to increasing productivity.


Transform your productivity with technology in these 3 business areas:

  1. Budget forecasting and strategy
  • Capture and consolidate data for holistic view of employee spending
  • Control and adjust budget to change business needs
  • Improve accuracy and timeliness of spend
  1. Tracking employee expenses
  • Automatically categorize and map expense based on receipt images
  • Streamline expense management
  • Enforce policy compliance
  • Reimburse employees faster and improve user experience
  1. Policy and expense auditing
  • Instantly certify each expense against your own policy
  • Identify non-compliant expenses prior to reimbursement
  • Ensure all employees are compliant using independent auditors


3. Reduce FW&A, improve financial security

Agencies who track spend manually are even more prone to fraud, waste, and abuse (FW&A). Unlike technology, humans can make errors and carry biased opinions about which expenses break policy.


Intentional or unintentional, employee fraud is more common than you think. In 2018, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) found that 18.7-percent of employee fraud occurs in government entities, costing state and local agencies $180,000 each time it occurs.


But employee fraud isn’t always malicious. Sometimes it’s due to the complexity of government travel policies, which are often difficult to understand even for the most experienced travelers. Evidence of such waste was reported in 2018 by the DoD’s Inspector General, citing $263 million in total losses due to improper payments issued in 2017 alone.


Here’s the solution: Utilizing machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), audit technology can help detect fraud and compliance issues in near real-time. By analyzing 100-percent of expense reports, AI can help organizations increase the speed and volume of expense reports audited, reduce expense report errors by 60-percent, and capture 10X the amount of fraud and errors by detecting the patterns and anomalies humans can’t see. It can even spot accidents versus malicious intent so you can isolate repeat offenders from the majority of users who sometimes make accidental claims.


Help identify risks and opportunities for savings by using a preventative and detective approach to reduce FW&A:

  • Execute consistent policy enforcement across the agency
  • Pay only valid reimbursement claims
  • Focus on resolving fraud, not identifying it


Simplify your employee spend challenges with SAP Concur

Maximize your transparency, efficiency, and control with a cloud-based solution that modernizes the expense, travel, and invoice processes.


SAP Concur empowers government agencies like your own to automate expense workflow so you can maximize control and manage the entire expense process with simplicity – from spend request to reconciliation. With the help of our solutions, your organization will be able to improve expense reporting accuracy, reduce reimbursement cycle time, and free personnel to focus on your organization’s mission.


Our solution can be configured to enforce agency and regulatory policies and create reports that support compliance, helping to reduce or eliminate FW&A. And with our open platform, your organization can easily integrate existing ERP, HR, and accounting systems to consolidate expense data into a fully connected, single solution.


For more information on how to simplify the way you track employee expenses, visit our state and local government solutions website. 

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