Cautionary Tales: Don’t Forget Expense Management
Finding high-profile examples of poor expense management is as simple as typing “P-card” into Google News. The headlines are littered with the kind of abuse that would have been avoided through the use of good travel and expense management software.
In the span of just a few days recently, we saw:
- Widespread P-card abuse by public housing ministry employees in British Columbia, where workers entertained themselves and each other to the tune of $2.5 million in 2011 – a nearly 50-percent increase over two years. Employees, their spending virtually unchecked, threw celebrations at fancy Vancouver restaurants and took lavish lunches.
- In the University of Missouri athletics department, an employee used school-issued credit cards to run up a $7,600 tab at a Las Vegas strip club – including a $2,000 tip – among other questionable expenses. Another employee blew nearly $3,000 treating a group of 30 to a steak dinner even though his P-card limit was $2,500.
- In Ohio, more than 4,000 state employees were running around with state-issued p-cards with very little oversight or review. Among the expenditures that resulted: A fish hatchery supervisor used his P-card to pay for propane to heat his home for more than 10 years.
If your company’s suite of enterprise applications doesn’t include integrated capability that enables total oversight and the ability to configure spending rules that cannot be violated, you are vulnerable to the same type of behavior – or worse.
No matter what type of expense cards your company uses, you need transparency to maximize the value of your corporate program and prevent loss or non-compliance with regulations or contracts. Here are some things to look for in enterprise-grade expense management:
First, you need a spend management application that supports all card carriers, whether you use travel cards, custodian cards, ghost cards, fleet cards, P-Cards or any combination.
You need a solution that gives you control over every facet of T&E, from card distribution to usage to bill payment. Look for the ability to easily set rules for who should get cards and how much they’re approved to spend. You should be able to set your own specifications for workflow so reports move smoothly. Don’t settle for an application that expects you to conform to its pre-determined settings.
The whole concept of Big Data depends on maximum visibility. If you don’t have it, then you’re pretending to know what’s happening in your organization. What good is a top-notch P-card solution if it is in a different silo applications monitoring E-procurement or asset management? You must tie all the information together seamlessly. Look for a spend management solution that is fully integrated with other purchasing software, such as invoice management, in a single, user-friendly interface.
The days of manually inputting data from paper records have been dispatched to the dustbin of history. A spend management solution that automatically imports transactions into expense management software on defined intervals will provide maximum efficiency, reduced data-entry errors and up-to-date visibility into how, where and when your employees are spending your money while speeding up reimbursement. The right solution will automatically provision their ability to make purchases based on their role, geographic location and approved amount according to rules that you have set.
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