August 24, 2023

The Controller's Guide to Deploying Company Cards and Spend Management

The Controller's Guide to Deploying Company Cards and Spend Management
Learn how controllers can maximize value from integrated corporate card and spend management programs. Discover key strategies for rollout, user adoption, visibility, control, and insightful analytics.

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The Controller's Pivotal Role in Spend Modernization

Controllers occupy a pivotal role in guiding the selection and deployment of integrated spend management solutions. By championing these tools, controllers can transform fragmented processes into centralized, data-driven spend control programs.

Replacing manual expense tracking and reporting with automated company cards and platforms delivers game-changing visibility. Controllers gain real-time insights into employee spend along with the ability to configure optimal policies and workflows.

Leading solutions make it easy to manage the end-to-end spend lifecycle from purchases to reimbursements to accounting. This guide covers critical considerations for controllers to drive successful adoption.

Unifying Spend Data for Complete Visibility

Legacy expense reporting approaches often operate in silos. Corporate card transactions may lack integration with broader AP and invoice management.

Controllers should prioritize solutions that unify spend from across channels into a single source of truth. Centralizing T&E spend, AP data, invoices, and vendor payments provides comprehensive visibility.

Top platforms feature connectors to sync card activity with major ERPs like NetSuite, Sage, and SAP. This consolidation and standardization of spend delivers the foundations for detailed analysis.

Configurable Workflows for Seamless Compliance

Fragmented manual processes open the door for missed approvals and policy non-compliance. Automated workflows streamline compliance by routing spend for rapid digital approvals.

Leading platforms allow controllers to configure approval chains and system logic tailored to their organization. This flexibility is key to aligning automated workflows with existing financial oversight protocols.

Tools like mobile approvals and required pre-authorization further strengthen compliance and control for controllers.

Advanced Analytics and Reporting for Actionable Insights

Controller rely on data-driven insights to inform strategy and planning. Modern spend solutions should provide easy access to visual analytics and customizable reporting to uncover trends and anomalies.

Controllers should look for robust drill-down capabilities, simple ad hoc report creation, and options to export or integrate data with BI tools. Machine learning delivers added analytical advantages by automating spend forecasts and predictions.

Self-serve analytics empowers controllers and managers to gain insights anytime without relying on finance teams.

AI and Machine Learning for Efficiency Gains

Artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities present an opportunity for controllers to automate repetitive, low-value tasks. Advanced platforms apply AI to streamline key areas including:

  • Transaction categorization and coding
  • Reconciliation of card spend with budgets
  • Identifying duplicate charges or suspicious outliers
  • Processing invoices and expense reports
  • Forecasting future period spend based on data patterns

This augmented automation enables finance teams to focus on high-value functions and planning.

Dialed-In Access and Security Controls

As stewards of sensitive financial data, controllers should verify spend platforms have enterprise-grade security protections and access controls.

Capabilities to look for include:

  • Robust user authentication protocols like SSO and MFA
  • Granular role-based access permissions
  • SOC 2 compliance for data security
  • Activity logs and data access monitoring
  • Features like virtual card numbers for purchases

Multi-Entity, Global Capabilities

For global businesses, controllers need to maintain visibility and control across international subsidiaries running disparate ERP instances and currencies.

Leading software solutions support multi-subsidiary rollouts with localized language interfaces. They facilitate entity-level reporting as well as consolidated global numbers for chief controllers. Multi-currency support completes capabilities for unified international operations.

Programs Tailored for Full Employee Adoption

To maximize the value of spend tools, driving employee adoption is critical. Controllers play a key role in change management and training to incentivize card and software usage.

Intuitive interfaces and mobile apps simplify uptake. Gamification techniques and rewards programs keep engagement high. Ongoing performance support and communication maintains momentum.

Services Support for Smooth Deployments

Leveraging services and support accelerates deployment and drives long-term program success. Controllers should look for providers with robust implementation packages.

Capabilities like tailored configuration guidance, training, and best practice workshops during launch ensure a smooth rollout. Ongoing support and an assigned customer success team keeps controllers in the loop.

Assessing Feature Needs and Vendor Options

The controller's deep understanding of financial processes and requirements makes them integral to evaluating vendor options. Key steps include:

  • Documenting must-have capabilities, integrations, and workflows
  • Developing scoring criteria for platform assessments
  • Requesting demos and trials from shortlisted vendors
  • Comparing options to determine the right-fit platform

Building the Business Case for Investment

Quantifying the hard and soft benefits of modernizing spend management creates a compelling business case for investment. Controllers can estimate efficiency gains, policy compliance lift, fraud reduction, and more.

This data-driven justification accelerates executive buy-in. The CFO can readily see how automation and analytics will create a next-level finance function.

Guiding Continual Improvement of Programs

Even after launch, controllers play an ongoing role in maximizing value from spend tools. Continual evaluation of data and workflows spurs incremental improvements.

New integrations, expanded policies, updated configurations, and more tailored training keep programs progressing over time. The controller's vision and guru-level understanding sustains excellent adoption and satisfaction.