Six expense management considerations for SMEs

Many Australian small businesses are still struggling to make the move from spreadsheets to an automated expense management solution because they find the technology daunting and believe making the switch may be too difficult.

Automating expense management delivers significant business benefits and doesn’t have to be difficult. Business leaders simply need to make sure the expense technology they choose meets the needs of their businesses, and that the transition is made as seamlessly as possible.

Here are six considerations to keep in mind when shopping for the right travel and expense management solution.

  1. Policy compliance: A good expense solution will make it easy to apply company policies to it, setting limits on what can be expensed and sending managers an alert when someone spends outside those policy limits. Managers can even set caps so employees can’t submit expenses above a certain amount. Decision-makers should look for a solution that automates policy checks so managers don’t have to manually check whether any policies have been violated.
  2. Reporting and visibility: It’s important to know how the business is spending its resources, and a good solution will make this easy. Decision-makers should look for solutions that offer dashboards with preconfigured reports, so that managers can quickly see what they need to see without having to pore over raw data. For example, by separating expenses by project or client, managers can see which clients are most profitable.
  3. Cloud-based: With a cloud-based solution, businesses don’t have to pay for the hardware to run the solution on, nor do they have to pay hundreds of dollars for a boxed set of software. With a subscription-based solution, businesses can automatically get the most up-to-date version of the solution without having to apply patches or go through a lengthy update process.
  4. Integration: The ability to integrate the new solution with the rest of the applications in the business environment, along with an ecosystem of partners, can help maximise the return on investment. For example, one Concur partner offers tax-back services, helping Concur users reclaim tax seamlessly.
  5. Migration: For small businesses with limited resources, implementing the solution can be the hardest part. The best solutions offer an implementation team to set up and configure the system, help the business get started with using the system, and transport the data from one system to another.
  6. Ease of use: Businesses will get the strongest return on investment in a system that automates rote tasks and is easy to use. For example, when it comes to capturing receipts, businesses should look for a solution that offers optical character recognition, so that just taking a photo of a receipt with a smartphone captures all the text in that receipt, and it’ll automatically be logged as an expense.

Smaller businesses stand to benefit significantly by better managing travel and expenses. Automating the process and making it easier to ensure policy compliance saves time and money, and usually results in staff members submitting accurate expense reports on time. Smaller businesses can achieve this with minimal disruption and cost if they choose the right solution.

Matt Goss, ANZ Managing Director, Concur

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