Mar 31, 2023
4 min read

The importance of efficient spend control in business

Employee using a corporate card at the ATM, after learning about risk management and corporate spend on a work seminar.
Quick summary

Corporate spend control is not about spending less. It's about spending wisely and ensuring every penny creates value and increases profit. All businesses, regardless of size, have a certain amount of resources. And they need spend control to ensure they don't mismanage these resources, overspend, take unnecessary risks, or even run out of cash.

Table of Contents

    Corporate Spend control is an important part of any company's financial management. It helps the company to analyze its expenses and reduce them if necessary. A sound spend control system can help a company to save money, increase profits, and improve its financial health. Companies need to create an efficient system for monitoring their business payments and expenses to achieve effective spend control. Many tools, including different types of software, can help you manage your company's finances better.

    Understanding corporate spend management

    The term 'spend management' is sometimes used interchangeably with 'spend control.' Nonetheless, it specifically refers to the activities performed by financial departments to monitor, analyze, and control business spending. Companies use spend management tools and techniques to ensure they pay for only essential expenses and that money isn't wasted on unnecessary purchases or services.

    These tools include:

    • Procurement systems: These software programs track where your company spends its money and how much it spends on specific categories like office supplies, travel expenses, etc. The programs let you identify problem areas where costs are too high and reduce corporate spend as required.
    • ERP systems: Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software helps automate many business functions, including accounting transactions and inventory management processes.

    Corporate spend management allows organizations to measure their effectiveness at controlling costs while also maximizing their spending power by minimizing unnecessary expenditures.

    Take control of company spend

    Why is spend control important?

    Spending money is the easy part. However, most businesses spend more than they need to because they don't have a system in place to manage their spending. With proper spend control, you'll increase efficiency by determining what can be spent and on what activities, who can approve it, and so on.

    Understanding business spend is important for an organization's budgeting and forecasting process. Without knowing how much you're spending on certain categories of goods and services; it's impossible to predict what your expenses will be in future periods. This lack of spend visibility makes it difficult to plan for capital expenditures and other investments that require planning. If you don't know how much you're spending now, how can you predict what your needs will be in the future?

    The impact of uncontrolled spending

    The impact of uncontrolled and unmanaged spending on a business can have dire consequences, and even lead to collapse. Here are five of the major issues caused by unmanaged business spend.

    Redundant and time-consuming admin tasks

    A major issue with managing spend across multiple platforms and spreadsheets is the amount of time it takes to fix. You may have spent hours updating a spreadsheet or creating new invoices but then forgotten to add them to your system. Or you may have spent hours rewriting an invoice template but then forgotten where you saved it.

    You also won't have payments connected to spend management software, meaning no real-time spend visibility. If you don't know what's going on behind the scenes, it can be difficult for you to spot areas where your business could save money or improve efficiency. It pays to make sure you know what's going on in there.

    Inadequate financial planning

    If you don't stay in control of spend, you could end up with improper budgeting and financial losses. Lots of money will likely get spent without adequate spend visibility, making it difficult to estimate costs and profits. In cases when you exceed a budget, you will have to cut down on expenses. This may result in lower-quality services or products. And, since there's a lack of adequate funds for investment, it will affect the overall performance of the business.

    Costly errors

    Errors in spend control can lead to costly mistakes. For example, a business may pay for a service that was never delivered. This can happen when the vendor's invoice has been paid, but there is no record of the service being delivered.

    Lack of trust from investors and shareholders

    You want your investors to trust that their money is being used wisely, which can only happen with controls on spending. Shareholders will lose faith in the company and stop believing in your ability to run a profitable business. In addition, a lack of trust from investors and shareholders will likely result in an inability to raise capital, leading to a loss of business opportunities, market share, and profits.

    Higher risks of fraud

    If you inadvertently create a system that makes it easy for people to commit financial crimes, it will probably happen. A lack of transparency can lead to trust issues, negatively affecting the reputation of organizations and individuals. In some cases, with so much personal information available online and with the uptick of cyber crimes, criminals can steal your identity and use it to commit fraud or other crimes without ever coming into contact with you — and without leaving a trace behind.

    Key strategies for controlling business spend

    If you're managing a business, you'll be faced with many challenges. One of the most important is controlling how much you spend on everyday expenses. If you're constantly deciding between maximizing activities or cutting costs, you'll know it's not easy. But there are some simple steps you can take to ensure your business spends its money wisely.

    Create a well-developed spend process

    A well-managed process is critical to controlling your business spend. It will help you manage risks and ensure that you comply with regulations.

    Recognise high-cost spending areas

    Identifying where your business spends money is crucial to achieving cost savings. It's essential to determine which areas of your business are costing you the most so that you can focus your efforts on those areas first.

    Card-based spending

    Start now if you're not already using corporate cards for your company's expenses and purchases. Cards allow employees to make purchases without worrying about cash or cheques. Cards also provide instant spend visibility into how much is being spent and where that money is going. Plus, they make reconciling transactions easier because receipts stay with the cardholder — rather than getting lost in the mail or thrown away, in worst cases.

    Extract and analyze data

    This can be done through a variety of methods, including expense management software that tracks purchases, accounting software that tracks revenue streams, and reports forecasting future expenditures. The key is extracting and analyzing data from multiple sources into a single location where you can make more informed decisions about how to spend money.

    Automate spend control

    Automation helps eliminate manual tasks and reduce errors when managing employee expense reports. It also allows you to manage your expenses more effectively over time.

    Why is business spend management compliance important? Five best practices for CFOs

    By adhering to compliance and security standards, organizations can prevent financial missteps and maintain control over their corporate spending. Practices such as standardized expensing procedures, real-time expense visibility, data-driven decision-making, and the use of automation technologies are crucial for upholding compliance within the spend management system.

    Generally speaking, effective business spend management compliance revolves around five key practices:

    1. Adherence to regulations: Ensuring all spending activities comply with relevant laws and financial regulations​​ - both international and domestic.
    2. Process standardization: Implementing standardized procedures for spend management, including approval workflows and auditing processes​​.
    3. Expense visibility: Utilizing tools like corporate cards and expense management software for real-time visibility and tracking of all business expenses​​​​.
    4. Data-driven decisions: Analyzing expense data to inform budgeting and financial strategies, aiding in more accurate forecasting and financial planning​​​​.
    5. Automation and technology: Leveraging technology to automate spend control processes, reducing manual errors and improving overall efficiency​​.

    These practices ensure that a business’s spending management is not only efficient but also compliant with all necessary financial and regulatory standards, safeguarding business funds against legal and financial risks.

    Effortless control: All your business spend under one roof

    From managing travel expenses to keeping tabs on marketing budgets, companies need increased visibility to stay on top of business spend.

    If you use a spend management solution like Payhawk, you'll get company cards and corporate expense management features in one place. You can track all your expenses in one place and spot trends to see where money is spent most often.

    Your cardholders will be responsible for uploading their receipts and invoices, and our automated receipt-chasing will remind them when they forget. Plus, our first-class integrations will mean your spend data syncs perfectly with your
    accounting software or ERP of choice, with no manual entry or errors.

    Book a demo today to learn more about how to make the best decisions for your company with the right spend controls.

    Trish Toovey - Content Director at Payhawk - The financial system of tomorrow
    Trish Toovey
    Senior Content Manager

    Trish Toovey works across the UK and US markets to craft content at Payhawk. Covering anything from ad copy to video scripting, Trish leans on a super varied background in copy and content creation for the finance, fashion, and travel industries.

    See all articles by Trish →
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