Increasing your Organization’s Spend Transparency with Commercial Cards

Visibility into an organization’s spending used to be a cause championed by a company’s procurement department.But as organizations are trying to reduce T&E costs to become more efficient, everyone from the CFO down to a department’s finance manager is looking to gain more visibility into an organization’s T&E spend. When faced with this challenge, an organization can take the following two-stepped approach to increase spend transparency:

  • Step 1: BROAD USAGE - Ensure the broad use of commercial cards (corporate cards, P-cards, etc.) throughout the organization
  • Step 2: INTEGRATION - Integrate commercial cards (corporate cards, P-cards, etc.) into Concur Expense


Question: If your employees are using their personal cards and everything is running smoothly – why should you rock the boat and try to change your organization’s behavior?

Answer: Putting your organization’s spending on commercial cards increases transparency into your total spend which can lead to downstream cost savings by providing benefits in the following areas:  

  1. Procurement / Negotiations: Using cash or personal cards means there is little organizational visibility into the locations being traveled to, the vendors being used, and the amount of money being spent.Armed with this insight, finance and procurement will have greater leverage in negotiations with vendors allowing for reduced rates and preferred pricing.
  2. Spend Details: Commercials cards come with the ability to see Level 1, Level 2, and sometimes various amounts of Level 3 transaction data which allows insight into details such as transaction amount, tax amount, and line-item detail (the latter varies by supplier).
  3. Incentives / Rebates: Commercial card issuers often provide speed to pay incentives and program volume rebates that help an organization reap cost savings, which encourages broad usage of commercial cards, and propagates transparency into the organizations’ spending.


Question: If your organization is using commercial cards but is not integrating them into Concur Expense– why should you invest in integrating?Or, if you are only integrating your organizations’ travel card – why should you integrate the rest?

Answer: Placing your organization’s spending on commercial cards will only increase spend visibility part of the way.Integrating that data with an expense management solution like Concur will help get your organization maximum transparency, by automating the following areas:  

  1. Reconciliation: A commercial card charge will tell your organization that the transaction was $100 at a Hilton hotel.Integrating commercial card data into Concur will help identify the true expense (e.g. a meal at the Hilton) and adjust the expense reporting process (e.g. drive attendee capture) to ensure proper expense reconciliation.
  2. Compliance/Audit: Audit rules and email reminders can be customized based upon payment type, can be written to trigger off of MCC codes, and can remind users to make a timely payment of charges on their corporate card.
  3. Allocation: Commercial card charges brought into Concur can be allocated to a different financial organization (e.g. company, cost center, division, etc.) leading to more accurate financial statements.
  4. Substantiation / Approval: Receipt images can be captured in Concur for all commercial card types, which can be reviewed by the appropriate individual as part of the approval process.

Following the steps above will help your organization gain transparency into its spend and lead to benefits for both the employee and the organization.


About the author:

Debra Moss is a Principal at Acquis Consulting Group and leads their Travel, Expense, and Meetings service offering. She has more than 15 years of experience managing large-scale, complex engagements in the areas of corporate travel, commercial cards, analytics & reporting, shared services, post-merger integration, and procurement. She has led multiple global Concur expense management system implementations. Debra is also a Certified Purchasing Card Professional (CPCP).


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