Managing expenses is a critical activity for any business, regardless of size or industry. Proper expense management helps companies control costs, optimise cash flow, and make informed business decisions. With rising competitiveness and thin profit margins, businesses cannot afford to be careless about monitoring and managing expenses. This article will discuss six reasons why robust expense management practices are vital for companies.
Gain Visibility into Spending
Having clear visibility into spending is the foundation of good expense management. When companies do not track where their money is being spent, they are operating blindfolded. Without proper monitoring, expenses can grow unchecked across various categories like travel, software, supplies, marketing etc. Managers have no data to understand exactly how much is going towards what. This lack of visibility prevents insights into spending patterns.
Expense management software and tools fill this visibility gap by providing real-time reporting on costs. The systems capture and categorise all expenditure transactions made across the organisation. This gives managers a bird’s eye view of how funds flow out of the business across the different spending categories on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Enforce Spending Policy Compliance
Expense management tools allow the setting up of spending policies to control costs. For example, per diem limits on travel, approval rules for large expenses, restrictions on office supplies etc. can be configured. The system automatically monitors transactions for violations of preset policies. If an employee books business class airfare without authorization or buys supplies above their limit, the transaction is immediately flagged. Many systems also proactively warn employees when they are about to breach a policy, preventing violations.
Required approvals act as another compliance checkpoint. Expenses above a threshold need to be approved by the manager, ensuring oversight on larger spends. Multi-level approvals add further checks for very large expenditures. These automated controls promote adherence to spending rules and minimise non-compliant transactions that can hurt profits. Useful audit reports can also be generated to identify problem areas, negligent employees or gaps in policy that require improvement.
Improve Cash Flow Visibility
Uncontrolled expenses can lead to severe cash flow issues for a company. When expenditures are not monitored, cash keeps flowing out without visibility on upcoming requirements. However, when properly tracked, expenses can actually help predict short-term cash needs. Analysing historical expense trends and payment cycles provides forward visibility into expected cash outflows.
For example, software subscriptions may renew quarterly requiring a payout every 3 months. Tracking past subscription expenses allows predicting the cash needed in the next quarter for these recurring payments. Likewise, analysing weekly payroll expenses can forecast next month’s payroll cash requirements. Managers can also spot seasonal spikes, such as marketing expenses peaking in December.
Prevent Fraud and Errors
Fraudulent or erroneous expenses can bleed profits rapidly. However, expense management systems include controls that safeguard against such revenue leakage. Automated approval workflows ensure no spend escapes oversight. Approvers verify the validity and accuracy of each expenditure before sign-off. Additional checks like receipt capture, mileage logs and duplicate detection further validate claims.
These measures minimise incorrect or fraudulent transactions like false reimbursements, inflated expense reports or fudged invoices. They ensure every dollar spent has audit trail validation. Such system controls are far stronger than manual verification processes which have loopholes. Human errors in review and approval also get eliminated. Standardised monitoring across the organisation also promotes transparency. When every employee undergoes the same stringent approval process, mistrust is reduced. No preferential treatment exists.
Improve Employee Productivity
Manual expense management via spreadsheets and paper receipts is enormously cumbersome for employees. It involves keeping track of and submitting piles of receipts along with filling detailed spreadsheets. This administrative chore eats into productive work time. Automated expense reporting systems vastly improve this process. Employees can easily log expenses on the go using their mobile phones – no more paper receipts! The software reminds them to file reports when due. Direct integration with accounting software means no re-entries.
Once submitted, automated matching and processing removes the manual verification burden on finance teams. Payments get issued faster too. With streamlined expense tracking, employees minimise the administrative workload. The time saved allows them to focus more energy on core responsibilities that drive business results.
Informed Cost Reduction
Robust expense management provides valuable spending insights that can drive cost reduction initiatives. By analysing expenses across categories, managers can identify areas of overspending or inefficiency. For example, reporting may reveal unusually high booking costs. On investigation, duplicate bookings or bookings made out of policy can be spotted and eliminated.
Examining expenses across departments also highlights outliers with abnormally high costs. Managers can then research the reasons behind it and implement controls. Expenditure analytics also helps spot seasonal fluctuations or one-time costs, making stakeholders take informed decisions to curb them timely.
Comprehensive expense management is crucial for business success in today’s competitive landscape. Taming expenses have a positive impact directly on the business. At its heart, the process eliminates waste while promoting prudent spending and cash flow optimization. Expenses software solutions make the tracking process smooth, efficient and insightful. For small and mid-sized companies especially, getting expenses under control is no longer optional but an absolute necessity. With the right focus, expense management can be a strategic advantage for the organisation.