Accounting

Is it Groundhog Day or Are You Just in Finance?

Sometimes working in finance feels a lot like being Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. But instead of a news anchor delivering the same fluff piece on a rodent and its shadow, you’re dealing with expenses. Every. Friggin. Day.

Begging your colleagues to submit their expense reports. Chasing down missing receipts. Manually reconciling transactions. Having to guess who bought what and why. Admonishing employees who spend out-of-bounds.

And like Groundhog Days main character, it’s starting to put you on edge.

Despite all your best efforts, your colleagues never seem to follow instructions. Month-end close sends you down the rabbit (groundhog?) hole into a sea of outdated and incomplete purchase data. You feel like February 3 will never come.

Don’t worry—you’ll get out of this time warp soon. By adopting finance automation technology, you can eliminate the mundane tasks and get time back to be more strategic. Until then, we thought you might enjoy a laugh about routine tasks that have your team feeling like they’re living through the same day again and again.

1. Literally begging your colleagues to submit their expense reports correctly and on time

Seriously—why can’t people just submit their expense reports on time? It’s not that hard! And yet, despite your constant reminders, how-to guides, and cheat sheets, getting employees to fill out expense reports can feel like pulling teeth.

Even when expense reports do cross your desk, they’re often late or incomplete. Employees may forget to attach the receipt, get sign-off from their manager, or attribute the purchase to a budget code. This means chasing people down again to get the missing information.

It is frustrating, time-consuming, and frankly, shouldn’t be your problem if people don’t understand how to fill out an expense report at this point. But corporate card expense management is your problem, and it’s taking time away from other more valuable things you could be working on.

Expense report noncompliance isn’t just frustrating for your team—it hurts the company. When employees don’t report the money they’ve spent in a timely manner, your finance team is left in the dark about where and when spend is happening until it’s too late. And without a complete understanding of all company spend, your team can’t make smart decisions about budgets, hiring, and other future investments.

2. Reiterating your company purchasing policy

At first it was awkward, but now it’s just annoying. How many times can you tell these people you won’t reimburse expenses made outside company policy?

Although you have an official expense policy, research indicates that only 33% of employees have actually read it. They seem to ignore your directions about what’s in the policy because you routinely receive reimbursement requests for expenses from unapproved vendors or that exceed set budgets.

Sometimes, employees have a good reason for spending outside policy. They really needed to travel to a client site, for example, but no flights were available within your price range on the days they needed to fly. That’s understandable—but couldn’t they get approval before booking the flight rather than assuming you’d make an exception?

That’s all child’s play, of course, compared with the employee who booked first-class airline tickets without batting an eye. Either you’re stuck paying the expensive bill, or you have to tell these folks that you can’t pay them back for their work travel because they didn’t adhere to company policy. You know it’s their own fault, and yet, you still feel bad every time—and you’re forced into an awkward conversation that you never wanted to be part of.

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3. Reconciling transactions that occurred months ago

Your C-suite needs your help to make sound financial decisions. Too bad you don’t have the time or insights needed to help. You’re too busy processing expenses that your colleagues made ages ago. And you have no clue what spend looks like since your last accounting cycle.

This is the reality for any finance team operating on a monthly accounting cycle. The books are closed only every 30 days, your team never really knows what spend is happening right now. This means your team is left working with outdated numbers to develop future plans—not a great approach for a forward-looking company.

Taking a rearview mirror approach to corporate credit card expense management has your finance team living in the past. This inhibits their agility, speed, and efficiency in adapting to market changes.

Business leaders are under constant pressure to cut costs, safeguard revenue, and adapt their strategies. The finance team must be able to provide relevant insights based on up-to-date data in order to guide their company through tough times and position themselves as a strategic partner within the organization.

4. Wondering who bought what and why

Wouldn’t it be nice if your colleagues followed the rules, coded their purchases to the correct budgets, and collected approvals from the right stakeholders? Ha!

If only. Instead, you’re often left wondering who bought what and why, and there’s no clear answer in sight. As a result, you likely spend your month-end close conducting what we like to call “best-guess” accounting—and then have to go back later on to correct any errors as you receive more information.

More than 80% of non-C-suite employees now have a say in purchasing decisions, which means money is flowing out of your business in all directions. Without a clear record of each purchase from request to the actual transaction, it can be difficult and time-consuming to put the pieces together.

February 3 is coming soon

As our friend Bill Murray learned, it’s best not to get too down about these redundancies. Every industry has its monotonous tasks, but there is hope for finance teams struggling with corporate credit card expense management.

Distributed spend management software can eliminate these challenges by capturing spend in real time and collecting critical data upfront. Employees are automatically guided through the purchasing process, which ensures compliance without relying on them to remember your purchasing policy. 

With distributed spend management software, you can break out of the seemingly never-ending cycle of expense management. Your finance team can make intelligent decisions based on real-time information—and you’ll never have to police your colleagues or be the bearer of bad news again.