Modern Finance: You CAN have happy employees and accurate financial reporting

As part of our Modern Finance series, we asked Controller Adam Rusch of Novum Structures to talk about key influences on his approach to modern T&E management. Novum Structures, based in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, builds architectural structures and enclosures, offering services from design development and project management to engineering and post-construction wrap-up. The company uses Concur Travel, Concur Expense, Concur Request, and TripIt Pro for its 120 employees.

I knew I wanted to be a CPA by my senior year of high school. I liked the problem-solving aspect of it. I like working with data and I like math, nerdy as that sounds. But one of the biggest influences on me was my uncle, a CPA with a successful business. He taught me that financial success and employee satisfaction aren’t mutually exclusive—that you can balance the needs of your company with the needs of your employees. I took that lesson to heart, and I bring it to my work today.

How does that lesson manifest in my day-to-day work? It affects the decisions I make about the tools we give our employees to do their jobs. I keep the employee perspective in mind while considering processes and solutions that will make sense for my company’s bottom line at the same time.

How can you bridge the divide between financial reporting and happy employees in your own company?


Digitize and automate

For example, firms are moving from paper-based approvals processes to digital platforms like Concur Expense. We did that in 2015 at Novum Structures, and we saved $1 million year-over-year in expenses, just by being able to look at granular data behind each expense and then analyze it to eliminate unnecessary expenses. That’s a 36% decrease in our monthly bills – a pretty significant impact on the bottom line.

But it didn’t just help us deliver more accurate financial reporting. It also helped our people spend less time writing expense reports – and that equates to happier employees because they can spend more time working toward success in their job functions.


Go mobile

Another big trend in the accounting world is going mobile and enabling employees to work remotely.

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.

Giving them the power to do that while on the road is huge. And for employees who travel, the ability to create and submit expense reports on the go isn’t just a nice-to-have – it can be vital.


Set your employees up for success

Our best tactic in keeping employees happy while making smart spending decisions is the consistent, timely review of expense reports. We perform second- and third-level reviews by management, and also reviews by project managers, because we find it helps to keep everyone aligned with our policy. We also do random audits on expense reports, selecting one out of every eight reports, and we hold regular monthly or quarterly reviews with management, comparing actuals to budget forecasts.


Find a platform that’s easy to use

Employee satisfaction is key when it comes to new apps and tools. No matter what system you implement, users have to be satisfied with it. If they hate using it, or if they don’t get adequate training, they’re going to have a poor attitude toward it; compliance will suffer first, followed by the accuracy of your financial data. You can’t sacrifice employee satisfaction for savings on your new platform. That’s a false economy that you may regret for years to come.


The bottom line

Pay attention to user experience as employees onboard new systems and continue to use them and create best practices from your learnings; here's another blog of mine with four key takeaways from our successful Concur T&E implementation. 


Stay tuned for more Modern Finance, and head to our hub page for more insight from the series. If you’d like to suggest topics or interview questions, please email or tweet your suggestions @Concur.

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