Jul 21, 2022
6 mins read

Controlling spend: From workflows to accounting integrations

Employee looking at the mobile expense app and the business expenses she needs to approve
Quick summary

As your business grows, it needs a comprehensive organizational structure and the best workflows and integrations for expense management. You need to know who has what authority to control spend. And how your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) integration and expense management solution will match complex teams and projects with their spend. Find out how to tackle both in the blog.

Table of Contents

    You need formal processes in your business to help you create a culture of accountable spending, where team managers are accountable for their team’s spending, and the employees themselves understand what’s expected of them.

    That’s why you need an organizational structure, no matter how small your business is.
    Having formal processes and systems in place from early on means you’ve set the correct foundations for growth.

    There are many organizational structures for you to model your company on. You might have a traditional top-down approach, where decisions are made only by a few staff members, or you might have a more organic and flexible approach, which doesn’t follow a linear top-down approach — instead, it’s a little flatter.

    Your structure might be split divisionally, geographically, by product, or by process. Regardless of how you’re organizing your teams, you need to ensure you have expense management workflows to gain spend management visibility and create accountability throughout the organization.

    Make compliance a breeze with in-built policies & workflows

    The importance of workflows for your team structure

    Accountability, budgeting, and governance and control. These are the main reasons you need approval workflows to support your team structure.

    As your business grows, you need more systems to manage operations effectively. And a big part of that is understanding how your money is spent, what it’s being spent on, and who’s spending it.

    Everyone is important in business expense management. Expense management workflows hand the power over to the right decision-makers at each stage. These workflows might look different for different spend types, so you’ll need a customizable solution to fit any complex team structure. At Payhawk, we offer exactly that as we understand the importance of making our spend management solution work best for your business.

    When you’re scaling your business, the focus isn’t necessarily on saving money — sniffing out the lowest cost possible — instead, you’re happy to spend, but you want to know that what you’re spending is adding value to the business and helping drive business objectives and ROI.

    Approval workflows can help you ensure that ongoing projects are delivering value. Workflows can automatically escalate expenses over £1,000 to the CFO or implement approval chains for team managers. And with workflows, you can gain real-time insights, ensuring business spending is in line with business goals.

    You need every employee to reach for the same KPIs, understanding what the business needs. And workflows keep everyone on track and deliver transparency around budgeting and spend management you wouldn’t otherwise have.

    Three ways Payhawk workflows can help your business

    How can Payhawk help you create the best workflows for expense management? Here are three important ways:

    1. Customize your expense policy by transaction type

    You want to reduce human error because this reduces the time spent correcting errors. And you can achieve this by making sure all employees are on the same page when it comes to what they can and can’t spend their money on.

    You need different workflows to achieve the governance and control required because of the different processes — Payhawk workflows help you cover the controls and governance appropriate for each type of spend, and accounts payable, supplier invoices are centralized.

    2. Accelerate approval flow and improve automation

    With Payhawk, the approval process becomes agile — administrators, team leaders, finance managers, and accountants — whoever needs to approve expenses can do it through the Payhawk app.

    The automation above allows business operations to run smoothly without unnecessary approval delays. So, time wastage when completing tasks is a thing of the past.

    3. Proactive card management controls

    If you’re wondering whether managing your cards at scale could be easier, the answer is a loud, giant yes.

    With Payhawk, you can customize your own card policies by seniority in the organization or by team (e.g. sales, marketing, HR etc.), whatever works best for your structure. Our card management features allow you to manage cards in bulk, eliminate ATM withdrawals and online spending, and set an approval chain for your fund requests.

    The software becomes quickly customized to your business needs. So whether you’re setting up simple approval chains or multi–sequential approval chains — it shapes around your structure.

    Having all your workflows in one place allows you to re-evaluate your company spending consistently, which is crucial for rapid business growth. Book a demo to learn how expense management workflows can help your business.

    How do control and governance travel from workflows to accounting?

    So, you’ve nailed your workflows, and thanks to your expense management solution, you’ve managed to give your employees freedom within a framework and a great user experience. What’s next?

    Once you’ve spent the money in a controlled and business-visible way, it’s time to reconcile with your accounting software, or ERP.

    Your accounting ERP plays a significant role in your organization, and efficient integration with your other tools is essential. But there’s a difference between plain and simple integrations and integrations that add business value.

    Valuable integration reduces manual processes, gives you clarity, and saves time across the entire organization. You need an integration between your ERP and expense management software that will allow each level of the finance function to step up and facilitate and support business growth.

    API integrations in the finance industry are still relatively new, so let’s explore how this particular integration can add value, saving you time and money.

    See what our cards can do

    Controlling expense management in business growth

    Business growth is exciting, but as your company grows, expense management can get more complicated. More people, more expense cards, more crossed wires — and, of course, with all of that comes more admin.

    In addition, as transaction volumes increase, compliance and reporting to stakeholders become more important. But you can’t confidently report on your finances without seeing the full picture.

    So, on the one hand, you have stakeholders who are more interested in the company — on the other hand, you now face leadership challenges due to rapid business growth. What were once decisions made solely by the CEO on behalf of a small team of 20 are now decisions devolved to the executive team who hold leadership accountable.

    It’s a big shift, and a lot is going on. There’s suddenly more accountability and planning — cash flow management becomes more critical, and you have to manage investor relations.

    It’s overwhelming, to say the least — but here’s where integration comes in handy.

    How integrating your ERP and expense management will help control costs

    So, you can maximize efficiency in your organization with your accounting ERP and the way it streamlines processes can make it worth its weight in gold. Meanwhile, your expense management solution is crucial for spending visibility. So how can the two work together to save you time and money?

    Firstly, this integration reduces manual processes. Because the data flow is instantaneous, you receive real-time reporting. This reporting means better cash flow analytics and better planning resources to allow you to drive increased accountability in the organization.

    Automation brought about by this integration reduces time on processes for junior finance staff, meaning you can focus on hiring a higher level of staff if it supports your company’s structure. The efficiency delivered will force you to reassess what functions your finance department needs and how they can be improved.

    Fundamentally, an integration between an ERP and expense management software gives you less opportunity for data and human error, which means there are no inefficiencies later down the line, particularly when it comes to VAT returns and month-end.

    With Payhawk, you can set your types of spending up in the platform using custom fields and ensure these are reflected in your ERP accounting tool too. Using custom fields, you can create types of spend specific to teams, projects, and more. This ensures that how you measure, segment, and reconcile spend is relevant to how your finance team needs to forecast, budget, and check on ROI. And here’s where workflows come in again.

    The workflows we covered at the start of the blog mean that project spending stays on track. If a person requests funds, each person in the workflow, including the team manager (and maybe a finance team member), will be able to see why the fund request has come in and check it against project spend to ensure everything is still on track or adjust the budget accordingly.

    The benefits of using Payhawk’s ERP accounting integrations

    Payhawk integrates with various ERPs and accounting systems from Oracle NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics to Xero and QuickBooks.

    With our accounting integrations, you can use your ERP’s natural transaction types, which enables natural reporting, e.g. suppliers or vendors can be used as intended. You can tailor policies that cover risk and governance more effectively and have real-time reconciliation of expenses and card payments (auto-matching them both in line with accounting principles).

    If an integration relies on manual journals, this could have accounting implications on the natural reporting and VAT, as manual journals do not reflect the proper transaction type that goes through the purchase day book. E.g. supplier invoices/vendor bills, expenses, and supplier credit notes.

    The above is also the case with bank transactions — the bank accounts should have bank payments and receipts. Manual journals to bank accounts are often an audit red flag.

    What are the other benefits of using Payhawk’s integration?

    • Faster reimbursements
      If you rely on paper-based, manual employee reimbursements, you’ve undoubtedly found it difficult to manage. Review and immediately reimburse employees (you can even do it in bulk).
    • Cost control in all your cards (card limits and funds requests)
      Make all team members accountable for their spending and always stay on top of all your expenses. Understanding your expenses in fine detail helps you plan and forecast for the future. Analyse subscription payments — this helps you identify unnecessary expenditures and spot patterns in spending that are unhealthy or outside of policy.
    • Real-time cash flow visibility
      Live cash flow data empowers financial teams, allowing them to download reports quickly and ensure stakeholders are kept informed consistently. This data visibility revolutionizes how businesses operate — it holds the right people accountable and helps you grow unencumbered.

    With slick integrations between your systems, you’ll notice business operations get easier, and you’ll wonder how you managed to trudge along with manually intensive processes for such a long time.

    These integrations will let you grow your business with maximum spend visibility, helping to give you the data you need to optimize budgets and plan ahead. Book a demo to learn more about integrating Payhawk with your ERP/accounting software.

    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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