October 19, 2020

Keep Your Feet on the Ground and Your Spend Management Platform in the Cloud

Nearly half of the workforce is expected to work remotely at least some of the time after COVID-19, according to Gartner—and companies have come to realize that the old way of doing things isn’t sufficient.

Traditional finance practices—such as sharing physical corporate cards and submitting paper receipts—are no longer feasible. Finance teams that previously relied on in-person interactions are turning to cloud spend management platforms to enable their distributed teams.

Furthermore, the business landscape is changing more rapidly than at any other time in history. A Gartner survey found that “pace of change” is considered the top emerging risk to businesses across industries and geographies. The future of business demands more frequent and timely information.

As the dust settles on the pandemic and businesses prepare for recovery and growth, finance teams will need to operate with increased agility. To do so, they must embrace cloud spend management platforms.

When work is no longer a place, finance needs cloud-based platforms

Legacy purchasing processes were developed with the idea that most employees would be in the same physical location. This was a shaky assumption in a pre-covid world; post-covid, it’s nearly impossible.

Employees can’t run over to their manager to get approval for a purchase and borrow a shared corporate card. They can’t use the office scanner to submit receipts or swing by the finance department when they have a question. Instead, they are forced to find workarounds, which are often complex, tedious, and potentially non-compliant.

Cloud spend management platforms, by contrast, issues virtual cards to employees, wherever they are. Team members are effortlessly guided through the purchasing process by a conversational chatbot. The technology ensures compliance with policy, and enables business continuity in the event of a future crisis.

Cloud spend management offers real-time visibility for better insights and decision-making

Although it is especially suited for distributed teams, cloud-based technology has benefits far beyond simply allowing employees to work from anywhere. It also allows them to collaborate in real-time.

But what does that mean for finance teams? First off, it means no more delay in between when a purchase was made and when finance finds out about it. You can't afford to wait until credit card statements come in at month end to become aware of all the money that was spent. Nor can you wait until the end of a quarter to collect and report spend data, because your CFO might ask for this information at any given moment.

When you can see what’s happening in real time, you can respond in real time. That might mean adjusting budgets to account for unplanned purchases, curbing noncompliant spend, or eliminating zombie subscriptions.

Real-time visibility also helps you keep track of your budgets and make better decisions about spend. For example, an employee might see that their department is nearing its monthly budget, and opt to make a routine purchase the following month instead to keep the team on track.

Gary Gurevich, controller at The Farmer's Dog, has seen this work firsthand. “Our cloud spend management platform gives our business unit leaders the transparency, accountability, and confidence to execute,” he said at the Agile Finance Summit. “These mechanisms help our team stay in sync and know where they’re tracking and how they’re executing.”

It’s hard for both finance teams and the broader organization to make team-oriented decisions when they can’t see the bigger picture. With a cloud spend management platform, everyone can access the data they need to collaborate effectively.

Cloud spend management will help you grow

Finance has been slower to modernize than other fields, as teams may feel that “the way things have always been done” works just fine. But COVID-19 has brought into focus just how important new technologies are for businesses as they prepare for future growth.

Nearly 60% of finance professionals say that their organizations are gearing up for growth in the next six months—and spend management can’t be left out of that preparation. When companies grow too big too fast, before establishing a strong internal purchasing process, employee spending can quickly get out of hand.

A cloud spend management platform can scale with your business, enabling proactive controls over spend without sacrificing agility and speed. By automating an otherwise manual and disparate process into a single workflow, distributed spend management software frees finance teams to focus on more strategic work, such as growing your organization.

Modernize your processes with a cloud spend management platform

Cloud-based software is nothing new, nor is the idea that it is a benefit to finance teams and businesses as a whole. What has changed is the notion that digital transformation is a “nice to have” — the pandemic has made it a “must have.”

In today’s economy, there are many finance processes that you just can’t afford to do manually anymore. Cloud spend management platforms provide the real-time visibility and proactive controls you need to get a hold of your spend, enable your distributed workforce, and grow your business.

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