The first installment of this series looked at five expense management tips for small businesses; and it looked at the issue from Ardent Partners’ signature approach to business transformation, which considers people, processes, and technologies. The next (and final installment) in this series continues on down the path towards best-in-class expense management, but kicks it up a notch with more advanced tips for the savvy business leader.
- Seek integration of systems and processes. Automated expense management systems that can integrate with corporate card feeds and back-end transactional systems improve the speed and accuracy of expense management reporting, reimbursement, and client invoicing. They also improve user interface and user experience (UI / UX), which can increase the frequency with which users leverage the systems. And the more systems usage an enterprise can drive, the more value it can realize in the end.
- Develop a list of preferred suppliers or vendors. The growth of the small business community in recent years has caused many large businesses (including airlines, hotels, office supplies, and other retailers) to develop programs that target the small business customer. Aggregating company purchases with preferred suppliers can drive savings via volume discounts, capture rebates after surpassing certain spend thresholds, and derive a series of other benefits from customer loyalty programs.
- Reimburse employees using electronic payments. Manual, paper-based reimbursement checks can be costly and time-consuming and can slow the time to reimbursement. Electronic payments can simplify and speed the reimbursement process in a cost effective manner, while improving employee satisfaction.
- Develop expense management systems and processes that can serve a mobile workforce. Geography is no longer the primary consideration as to who a company’s employees are and where they perform their duties. Given the mobile workforce trends, a company’s expense management systems and processes should be capable of supporting mobile workers.
- Develop reporting and audit capabilities and standards. Company-level reporting on expenses and compliance audits help ensure that the company is spending its money wisely and as planned. These tools can help companies identify savings opportunities with suppliers, improve overall policy compliance, and gain executive support for expense management initiatives.
The growth and management of top-line revenue are vital to a company’s success and future, but profits and cash flow define its current state. When a company saves a dollar, it really does make a dollar, sometimes more. Having streamlined and effective expense management processes and systems can help companies navigate the present and realize its future. Luckily, with these and other tips listed and detailed in this series, business leaders and practitioners from small business will be better equipped and poised to manage their expenses at a time when the pressure to cut costs and increase savings remains high, and cash flow and liquidity remain the lifeblood of any size organization.