From centralizing access to data to automating tasks and bringing in transparency and visibility into operations, online spend management software can help enterprises in a number of ways.
The centralized solution is a must-have for businesses.
Spend management can encompass multiple business functions, and therefore, standalone systems to manage different parts of the process will not be of big help to organizations in managing everything efficiently.
An integrated solution brings together all the practices and processes organizations use to manage spend, and gives them more visibility over its different aspects.
As this post lists, there are many ways integrated spend management can help your organization – we will see these and more in this article.
Centralized Access to Data
Access to information is one of the most important drivers of business growth.
Indeed, the mere scope of having access to data can be a competitive advantage and an effective barrier to entry.
With the spend management solution, you can centralize the access to spend data so that all the stakeholders can take decisions more effectively.
Also, since data is updated in real-time, you can also ensure that all the parties have the most relevant and updated data to work with.
Since the software is stored data on the cloud, access can be made available to all the necessary users as and when necessary.
The software also secures and compartmentalizes data so that you can control access to sensitive information.
All in all, your data storage and management concerns will be completely sorted out with a centralized solution.
Transparency and Visibility
With this centralized access to data, there is more transparency in operations and visibility into the process.
Gone are the days when different departments and business units spent money without oversight and buried these transactions in lengthy reports and complicated spreadsheets.
Also, with the software, accuracy is improved.
Through integrations and other automated methods, the software can receive transaction details directly from the source systems, and since there is no human element involved, there is no scope for tampering or inaccuracies in data.
Take an expense transaction for example. When an employee buys a flight ticket offline and has to enter these details into an expense report, there is the chance that an error might be committed in data entry or the employee can inflate the amount to claim more.
However, the spend software solution can be integrated with third-party flight booking solutions, all the transaction details can be directly sent into the expense report, giving no scope for inflating or inaccurate reporting.
Also, in spend-related processes like procurement and accounts payables, there is a great need for transparency to ensure that funds are not being mismanaged.
With the spend software, this transparency can be easily achieved.
The software logs all the actions of the stakeholders and makes these available for checks and audits.
Senior management can easily figure out if any mismanagement is taking place in any unit.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of the integrated spend solution is that it offers organizations a single platform to run all their spend-related processes and activities from.
This helps organizations avoid many of the ills associated with disjointed processes and lack of collaboration among business units.
In spend management, data from one task is necessary for the others to happen, and with a single platform, this data is available faster and more conveniently.
Take procurement and accounts payable for example.
While one department or unit procures the necessary inputs or supplies these bills have to be paid by the accounts payable team.
If data from procurement is not available, or if communication gaps occur between these units, payments go haywire and business comes to a halt.
In contrast, the spend platform ensures seamless and real-time access to all purchase information so that the AP unit can get invoices verified immediately and disburse the payments.
Also, there will be greater cohesion and collaboration among business units with the software.
You can also minimize your investment in business productivity software since you will be getting all the benefits of these different systems from one platform.
There will also be no issues of compatibility between systems, which is a common concern for organizations which use systems that cannot directly communicate with one another and needs some kind of intervention or conversion for systems to work together.
The spend solution does not only bring about qualitative improvements to the spend process; it also helps you crunch the numbers and come up with data-backed explanations for each decision.
Analytics is fast becoming one of the most important arrows in organizations’ quivers – they offer the scope for competitive advantage, and by virtue of allowing organizations to improve their processes and task management continuously, even allow them to develop and nurture capabilities and core competencies.
This benefits or analytics are not limited to a few individuals or business units – with the spend software, analytics can be made useful for all the stakeholders.
It encompasses divisions and units and allows business processes to be run in a more validated and informative manner.
Also, since analytics and data management inculcate discipline and accuracy in the stakeholders, predictions and forecasts can be made with much more accuracy.
Easy-to-Manage and Convenient
With the spend solution, the entire process becomes convenient and easy to manage.
The spend process includes a bunch of cumbersome and chaotic tasks that are part of processes like expense management and procurement.
Coordinating with multiple internal stakeholders as well as external stakeholders can often get out of hand.
The spend software follows a series of steps that are intuitive in nature.
This is how it works – users log into the platform using a single sign-on, upon which they gain access to the centralized interface where they perform their tasks.
Either in procurement or in travel and expense management, some sort of transaction takes place, which is validated with a receipt or invoice, which can be easily captured using the mobile app or through optical character recognition, which will be sent to supervisors to validate and approve.
Once approvals are completed, the receipt/invoice is routed to the accounts payable department, which carries out its own set of validation and approval procedures, and once these are done, payments are released.
The software can be integrated with financial and accounting solutions packages and can receive and disburse payments through a variety of channels.
All of the above steps can be audited at any point in time, and analytics can be used at any point in time to get more clarity and make better decisions.
And since all of this can be done from a central platform, it becomes incredibly convenient for all the stakeholders to manage.
The procurement specialist can now work closely with the supplier as well as the accounts payable specialist, and all operations can be completed to the satisfaction of all the parties involved.
Automation is one of the pillars on which the spend management solution is built.
It helps automate many of the spend management processes partially or fully.
It minimizes human intervention and increases the speed and accuracy of the process.
In expense management, various tasks such as data entry into expense reports and approval routing can be completely automated with employees only supervising and approving them.
In procurement, you can automate orders, purchase order handling, and approvals and validations.
Incoming invoices can be automatically sorted and matched with existing invoices to help AP specialists process them quicker.
Analytics can also be automated – the software can be instructed to automatically process the given data and come up with insights.
These insights can be automatically reported to the stakeholders through emailed reports.
All in all, automation is present everywhere and will be a huge value addition to all the stakeholders in managing their tasks.
Though the spend solution comes pre-integrated, it is by no means a closed solution.
Users have the option to further integrate solutions with the platform to increase its scope of operations and provide them with greater cohesion and synchronization among business units.
You can integrate an online signature software solution to make approvals more effective, and you can integrate customer relationship management or human resource management software solutions if necessary.
Also, other add-on solutions like survey software and invoicing software can be added to make it a one-stop platform for all business operations.
Since the solution is built on open architecture, it makes integration easy and operations seamless.
An integrated spend platform can be very helpful in managing your spend-related processes in an effective and comprehensive manner.
It helps you avoid many of the pitfalls of business solutions and gives you an all-round seamless experience.
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