The inevitability of risk: why spend management is key for business in unpredictable times
Every company is subject to a degree of financial risk and the past few years has taught business owners, and their respective finance teams, that uncertainty is the new certainty.
With supply chain issues, staffing shortages and the back and forth between office and remote working, it’s understandable that businesses can feel they are losing control. If businesses are to face the challenges that come their way with confidence, teams need to be prepared to face new challenges head-on and adapt – whatever the scenario.
No business wants to be in a position where they are unprepared for the unexpected, and taking back control of finances is essential to navigating the continued disruption from the pandemic, as well as any unforeseen hurdles in the future. Finance teams looking to avoid disruption need to consider automating their processes and embracing technologies that ensure they have more time to devise strategies to prepare them for unforeseeable future challenges.
Digital transformation as the key to regaining control
The pandemic shone a light on where companies really are on their digital transformation journeys, with EY’s 2022 CEO Outlook Survey revealing 47% of CEOs now rely on information technology more than any other strategy to compete in the unstable economy ahead.
With more time needed to concentrate on strategic tasks to avoid risk, being able to automate tedious work and organise cluttered processes has given businesses the freedom they need to grow in a post-pandemic world. With less room for human error, businesses ensure they are safe from the risks posed by uncertain circumstances.
Finance teams no longer have the time to be using multiple different programs to organise their accounts, expenses and other outgoing costs. Instead, they need integrated software that allows them to focus on the bigger picture, rather than spending time moving between all of the platforms across their business. Spend management tools that can integrate with third-party accounting software let finance teams seamlessly onboard to a single platform where all their data is in one place.
By creating a simple onboarding system and reducing time-consuming admin work, businesses can maximise the impact of each employee’s time so they can be as effective as possible. As a result, individuals no longer have to spend time collecting data before taking action, and this extra time can be used to allow whole teams to contribute to decision-making processes – enabling innovation that may not otherwise have been possible.
Effective strategic decision-making requires operational transparency
The turbulence seen over the past two years has left many businesses at a crisis point in their operational management. With businesses having to make rapid decisions on their strategy, a lack of operational visibility hinders their ability to respond to and anticipate future risks. If they are to be ready for any eventuality, companies need to start implementing information-sharing tools that will increase company-wide transparency.
Transparency is key to avoiding past mistakes and gaining future successes, and the amount of data spend management tools offer to finance teams lets them dig deep into where the business is going wrong, or going right, with their finances. Being able to access the history of outgoing payments in all accounts and track ongoing subscriptions ensures every decision is supported by accurate and visible data.
Spend management tools and employee wellbeing
Employees have also been affected by the instability of recent times. According to the CIPD Health and Wellbeing at Work Report 2021, 59% of respondents reported their most common cause of stress at work as being their unmanageable workloads.
Burdening employees with lengthy and complicated manual work is no longer acceptable when there’s technology to help support. For example, expensing processes is an extra pressure in an already difficult time, which may dissuade employees from fully claiming and expensing receipts. Automatically tracking and uploading purchases made on company cards with spend management tools removes this burden from both employees and finance teams.
Spend management tools that offer companion apps are even more efficient for employee use, with built-in receipt capture and approvals meaning reimbursements can happen almost instantly. Providing employees with a system that is simple to use and works around their lifestyle will leave them less stressed and can even improve their productivity.
The last two years have demonstrated how businesses need to be adaptable. Instead of preparing for specific, known risks, leaders should put in place systems that will also thrive during times of uncertainty. Spend management tools offer both stability and flexibility, allowing businesses to take back control of their finances with full visibility of costs. As a result, the finance team is prepared for whatever the business demands.