For over 30 years, GDS has been supporting clients through accelerating pipelines, curating industry insights, and delivering transformational event experiences.
As a global B2B solution provider, the finance team at GDS Group wanted to improve their corporate cards and expense management systems and remove time-consuming manual processes.
"Before we used Payhawk, we had to do everything very manually using Excel spreadsheets," Howard Thompson, Global Financial Controller at GDS Group, explained. "Somebody would send in their physical receipts in an envelope attached with a printout of a spreadsheet, leave that on their manager's desks, and then get that signed off before sharing with finance."
A paper-based expense experience wasn't ideal for anyone in the business as it left the finance team in the dark about business spend and took a lot of time to process. Their non-finance colleagues weren't satisfied either.
"Before Payhawk, my expensing experience was an absolute nightmare. We used to have receipts that I would sign, put on Excel spreadsheets, send off, and I was unable to track when they were coming back or where they were," Hannah Dobson, VP of Sales, told us.
"The finance team would have to read and decodify all the receipts to work out which buckets the spend should sit in for our general ledger," Howard continued. "So, there were quite a few challenges."
"We paid through payroll as well," Nick Millard, VP of Finance, added. "So, people who were getting reimbursed had to wait a month for their payments."
Since moving to Payhawk, the finance team at GDS Group has been able to really get into the weeds when it comes to coding and then analysing spend. This improved view and categorisation of spend has also supported finance and non-finance colleagues to better check the ROI on all of their projects and events.
"Our biggest benefit is around the live real-time information we get in the business," Howard said. "It's really important to track all our expenses and costs for each event. We use all the custom fields when creating and adding expenses in the Payhawk solution — so each event has a project code."
"As we have all of our expenses coded up to project codes in the Payhawk solution, we can now report on our margins by event and so on at the end of each month," Howard continued. "Payhawk has done a great job of ensuring that we can get that custom field from NetSuite and the project code from NetSuite into Payhawk."
Categorising expenses couldn't be easier for GDS Group now. Once the finance team has collaborated with team leaders and budget owners to set the categories and custom fields within the solution, all the cardholders need to do is select them when spending.
Here's how it works: a cardholder pays with their Payhawk corporate card, snaps a photo of the receipt via the OCR on the app, and selects the category — and done. The expense appears in the solution in real-time, the finance team can track it in seconds, and all the spend flows seamlessly from the spend management solution into the accounting software or ERP integration.
"When we were picking our expense management platform, I built a matrix of the different criteria we had to decide against," Howard said. "So first and foremost, did it integrate with NetSuite, our accounting platform, and of course, Payhawk ticks this box."
"Since we've implemented Payhawk, the benefits have been enormous," explained Nick. "Before Payhawk it used to be one person's full-time job to chase receipts, code up credit card statements to the P&L and manage the costs and credit cards."
The team at GDS Group used to devote over 15 hours a month to code up expenses to ensure that any money spent went against the right budget. Since moving to us (and letting the cardholders code up expenses themselves as they upload receipts) the finance team can simply check the final coding in real time instead. This saves the team's non-finance colleagues a lot of time, too, as they used to collectively spend at least 10 hours a month going back and forth answering emails from finance about their expenses.
"We can be proactive, track costs, and get visibility of expenses as they happen… Rather than being reactive and always working behind. That has freed us up to look into future spend rather than always reporting on historic spend."
"The great thing about Payhawk is the amount of collaboration that now takes place between finance and the rest of the business," Howard told us. "Payhawk has really helped finance move into an enablement role."
"Payhawk lets us be much more forward facing. The person who used to chase receipts full-time now has a completely different role," explained Nick. "They can be proactive, track costs, and get visibility of expenses as they happen…Rather than being reactive and always working behind. So that has freed us up to look into future spend rather than always reporting on historic spend."
The finance team at GDS Group really did their due diligence when finding the right spend solution to cure their expense management headaches.
"We looked at the usability of the software, how user-friendly it was, and how easy it was for non-finance people to use," explained Nick. "Having an app, with the OCR and in-built card controls, means that people can use it on the go and submit things very quickly."
Using our solution means GDS Group can fully support its team of busy technical and creative professionals. Team members can expense as on-the-go and say goodbye to piles of paper receipts and stapled Excel sheets.
"Payhawk has saved me time, but more importantly, it's saved my team time," Hannah said. "It's a dream because now I can get my team to do their own expenses, and I can approve them from afar quickly and efficiently. It's a great user experience. And it means they can focus on higher value activities."
The solution is a hit with non-finance colleagues, and this is big. In order to fully leverage our in-built card controls (for policy) and custom fields (for accounting), high adoption is vital.
"Payhawk is a platform that someone who is non-finance can use easily," shared Howard. "They can log in, upload a receipt, and code up and process their expenses in seconds. Top marks for that!"
Managing multiple entities across multiple countries is also essential to GDS Group. With offices in the US, the UK, and Kosovo, the team has to be able to check on spend across the globe easily and in real time.
“At GDS Group, we work with the UK, the US, and Europe, so we need a product compatible with multiple regions,” said Nick. “Payhawk was one of the few solutions that operate in these (and more) regions, so that was a key win for us.”
"At GDS Group, we work with the UK, the US, and Europe, so we need a product compatible with multiple regions. Payhawk was one of the few solutions that operate in these (and more) regions, so that was a key win for us."
At Payhawk, our multi-entity management feature and Group Dashboard means that customers like GDS Group can fully take control of international spend. The comprehensive suite of features lets them:
Payhawk has helped GDS Group get better visibility over global spend, save time, and improve reporting accuracy thanks to custom fields, proper spend categorisation, and a slick ERP integration.
"Payhawk helps us enormously," Nick said. "It frees up people's time in the finance team, helps us improve reporting accuracy, and the timeliness of our reporting each month."
Looking to tackle the challenges of managing expenses across teams, projects, and locations at your enterprise? Then book a demo today.
"The amount of collaboration that takes place between finance and the rest of the business is great. Payhawk has really helped finance move into an enablement role."
"Payhawk lets us be much more forward facing. The person who used to chase receipts full-time now has a completely different role. They can be proactive, track costs, and get visibility of expenses as they happen."
"Payhawk has saved me time, but more importantly, it's saved my team time. It's a dream because now I can get my team to do their own expenses quickly and efficiently."