In today’s competitive environment, it’s more important than ever for small and mid-size companies to make sure they have the right technology in place to grow quickly and efficiently. With so many competing priorities, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Believe it or not, automating expense management is a great place to start.
T&E (travel and entertainment) is the second-largest controllable business expense. It’s a process that impacts the entire company. While finding the right tool to automate your processes takes time, the payoff is worth it. SMBs can save money and time – both of which are invaluable to growth.
So let me ask you this: How are you managing expenses? Are you getting the kind of insight and visibility that you need to manage your growth?
With that in mind, here are four questions that business owners and financial executives need to ask when determining which expense management solution is best for their business.
1. Does the solution offer true expense automation?
Automating expense management quickly pays for itself. According to Forrester, automating expense management cuts the cost of every expense report transaction by more than 50 percent — and expense approval cycles are 28 percent faster compared to a manual system.
Automation also reduces the cost of processing expense reports. Manually processing a report costs, on average, $20.65 — whereas automatic processing only costs $12.51, a savings of 39 percent, according to Aberdeen Group’s 2013 study, “Managing the T&E Lifecycle: Integrating Processes, Driving Performance.”
2. Does it give me visibility into my cash flow?
A good solution will give you a full picture of your total spend, so that you can reduce your overall spending on T&E. When you use an automated solution, you’ll be able to capture expense information more quickly, categorize it automatically, and see your spending in time to do something about it.
That visibility lets you manage and analyze cash flow and spending patterns, shift directions quickly, and take advantage of changing market conditions. You can also use historical data to forecast peaks and valleys by season, month, or even day of the week. The data you’re already gathering is a gold mine in itself—a good solution lets you make the most of it.
3. Can the solution scale as my company grows?
Most likely, you expect to grow, so it’s important to select a product that can grow with you. SMBs need different things throughout their lifecycles, and your platform should grow with you. Look for a solution that easily integrates with solutions that manage travel, compliance, invoice, and other back-office tasks. If your business might require travel management in the future, choose a product that can grow into a comprehensive travel and expense management system.
4. Is it mobile and easy to use?
The bottom line is important, but so are your employees. Give them an easy-to-use expense solution that has mobile capabilities, and you’ll make it much easier for them to report expenses quickly. Adam Rusch, who currently oversees T&E for Novum Structures’ 120 employees, said it best:
If you can give your finance employees access to financial data in real time, from anywhere in the world, you give them the ability to deliver actionable insights and make good business decisions.
A good expense management solution can create business value by helping you save time, cut costs and make the most out of your data to make strategic business decisions. Isn’t it about time your expense management solution pulled its own weight?
This article originally appeared in fei Daily. For more about the Concur expense management solution, see it in action here. Ready to give your workforce freedom from receipts, and your business a big-picture view into company spend? Head here.