Delivery apps. On-demand entertainment. The world today moves at the pace of immediacy. But not every industry has caught on as quickly as others— the spend management process, for instance, consistently lags behind.
It involves chasing receipts, compiling spreadsheets, and slogging through monthly reconciliations, only to find errors in need of correction. Companies spend approximately half a million dollars and 3,000 hours correcting expense reports each year, according to the Global Business Travel Association.
At its core, expense automation is the use of modern technology to streamline the recording, tracking, and approving of expenses incurred by employees for business-related needs. However, how this manifests from company to company will vary greatly depending on their financial operations. When automation is deployed efficiently, finance departments can streamline workflows to eliminate wasted time on manual data entry.
Many companies currently host technology stacks for expense-related processes. However, a lack of transparency and synergy in these systems means many financial leaders are unaware of how many hoops one transaction goes through for reconciliation.
Below is the tedious trek of one receipt in a traveler's journey:
Phew, did you get all that?
With the number of modern solutions available to companies today, there is no reason for the expense reporting process to be so complicated. On average, it takes 20 minutes and costs $58 to manually process a single expense report, according to that same GBTA survey. That's a lot of time and money wasted when more significant tasks are at hand—like growing a company. Some key features of automated expense management systems include, but are no means limited to:
But where else?
A critical component of modern T&E solutions is the ability to recognize and auto-approve spending tied to business and travel expenses and automatically reconcile the payment.
Only a full stack solution with context into travel, policy, employee, and payment vehicle can do this. This process takes a time-consuming and lengthy paper trail and turns it into a single button.
Issuing corporate cards offers a ton of benefits, but it can also make companies feel vulnerable to employee misuse. With corporate credit cards and p-cards hosting built-in policy controls, finance teams can easily create spending policies for a full range of expense categories tailored specifically to their company.
These expense policies are programmable into the corporate card so that employees can't spend beyond the realms of the company-mandated limits.
When reconciliation is instantaneous, finance and accounting teams have immediate knowledge of how much is being spent and what it's being spent on. This makes it more effective for finance teams to manage cash flow and allows for accurate budgeting, planning, and forecasting. Automated reconciliation allows finance teams to mitigate financial risks. Through real-time spend visibility, finance teams can spot irregular purchasing activities and respond quickly to reduce fraud and support secure, compliant transactions.
Automation provides an opportunity to save money and time—and get a jump on the competition. That’s where Navan’s travel, corporate card, and spend management solution can help. It not only streamlines a company’s process today, but grows with the business as it expands.
“Because Navan Expense automatically organizes receipts by general ledger account category, department, or cost center, we’re able to accelerate the reconciliation process of those expenses at least six times faster than the usual process of working with an expense management tool,” said Jasmine Pope, Procurement Travel & Expense Analyst at Lyft.
Leveraging smart systems like Navan Expense that combine the power of virtual cards with an end-to-end spend management system empowers finance teams to do more with greater agility.