Abstract: Spend management is a humongous task by all means – it is comprised of various strategically important tasks that involve multiple functions, departments, and business units. The online spend management platform ensures that organizations can navigate its depth and breadth effectively and productively.
In any organization, spend management covers multiple processes such as T&E management, wireless expense management, procurement, and so on, involving a number of departments and stakeholders. There is a lot to manage, with expenses to be made and expenses to be paid, and both have to be managed effectively or there is the chance that the organization’s bottom line goes for a toss.
Many organizations have moved away from manual processes to software but one mistake they make is in deploying standalone applications. The more efficient and productive way to do this is to use a single centralized platform that integrates all these applications. The spend platform allows all these applications to communicate seamlessly, often without any manual intervention. The platform helps organizations navigate both the depth and breadth of spend-related processes, ensuring that while each task is completed to its fullest, it is also done in complete conjunction with the preceding and subsequent tasks automatically.
T&E management contains three major components – making an expense, reporting it, and reimbursing it. The spend platform comes with an end-to-end T&E module, which helps with travel booking, even by the individuals themselves. Other expense categories such as hotels, taxis, meals, and so on can also be booked through the solution by integrating the concerned applications. By providing the service directly to the consumer, the expense on the middle men is done away with. Once the expense is made, it can be automatically converted into an expense line item, saving time and maintaining complete reporting accuracy. Employees can concentrate on more productive tasks since reporting becomes automated. The software automates approval and verification workflows, which means that reimbursements can be done in a timely manner. Any T&E policy the organization follows will be followed to the ‘T’ since the software is programmed to do the same. That means no shortcuts, no workarounds, and no out-of-policy expenses.
That does not mean to say that the software is not flexible, though. Administrators can customize the software to follow the needs of the organization, and can turn on and off features as they need them. Say the organization follows a policy where no approval is needed for a travel booking for members belonging to a particular hierarchical level. In this case, the approval can be waived away and the expense automatically reimbursed. Similarly, if the organization follows a policy where an expense has to be approved by at least to senior managers before it can be reimbursed – the same can be followed by the software. Whatever the workflow and whatever the needs of the organization, the software will facilitate efficiently.
The other big-ticket item in spend management is in procurement, a highly strategic process in many organizations. Procurement consists of a series of steps such as order management, delivery management, and payments. Other tasks include supplier management and quality control. With the procurement module of the spend platform, organizations can ensure that their whole process is being carried out efficiently. In order management, the software offers users the chance to host their suppliers’ catalogues and allow for direct ordering by the concerned departments themselves, with multiple approvals at each stage to ensure that maverick buying does not happen. Once an order is placed, it can be tracked using the software and payments can be made upon delivery. Since the accounts payable (AP) module is also integrated with the platform, payments and tracking can be done seamlessly. Also, since all the date related to suppliers is available, suppliers can be evaluated on the basis of delivery schedules, quality of supplies, and other performance-related metrics. Once again, everything can be done in line with the procurement policy of the organization, and different processes can be customized as per requirements.
Then there is wireless expense management. In this digital age, more and more organizations are increasingly becoming dependent on wireless devices for their business transactions. Whether it is in sales or service or other routine business operations, wireless devices play a huge role, and organizations that pay for their employees’ wireless spend will find it hugely beneficial to control these costs with the wireless expense management (WEM) module of the platform. The module analyses usage of text, voice, and data to suggest the best possible package that optimizes spend. The module allows for the management of both the fixed costs in terms of the wireless devices themselves and the variable costs that is the expense on usage. Carrier services can be directly empanelled with the software to gain real-time information and enable real-time switching. WEM policies such as restrictions on usage, locations, and so on can be easily implemented. Much of the WEM process is automated and streamlined.
Other add-on modules to the platform that make operations simpler, faster, and smarter are data e-signature, single sign-on, and analytics. The e-signature module allows for quick authentication and approvals while the single sign-on module allows users to log into multiple applications at once with complete security and reliability. While all the modules have their own in-built analytics features, the analytics module is a sort of a super-engine that allows for more customized metrics to be developed and analyzed. Availability of analytics to all the stakeholders allows them to optimize their own tasks and contribute to the bottom line of the whole organization. The analytics module also allows for auto-generated reports which can be shared with the concerned stakeholders in real-time. Users can also integrate other third-party applications with the platform, and ensure seamless flow of data and operations across the board.
The spend platform therefore is the right answer to all the procurement needs of an organization. It helps them navigate the entire breadth of spend management activities while ensuring that each individual activity is carried out most effectively. Any additional requirements can also be handled with the addition of other modules. One of the biggest advantages of the platform is collaboration among all the functions and business units. All the internal customers will be afforded great service – no more will there be half-finished expense reports or delivery notes without the matching procurement order. The software will simply weed out the mistakes and errors and makes processing simpler and quicker. Subsequent processes will not be affected adversely.
The next greatest benefit is complete visibility over spend across all the activities. Whether it is expenses on travel, entertainment, wireless usage, or procurement, all the data is collected in the central repository and can be accessed easily. Auto-generated reports also play a huge role in improving supervision and control without creating too much red tape in the system. As the software can be accessed online, users enjoy complete and unlimited access to their data and operations at all times. Since maintenance of the solution is the responsibility of the provider, users need not invest in any equipment other than access devices, drastically reducing the IT budget requirements, making the solution available to organizations of all sizes. Iron-clad contracts with suppliers ensure privacy and reliability of data. Also, since the platform is essentially an operating system, different modules can be turned on or off at will, eliminating unnecessary costs. The online spend management therefore, is highly beneficial for all types of organizations.