Finding Inspiration In Mobile Expense Management

Controlling employee spending while managing expenses requires skill, attention to detail and automation — sometimes all on the go. Here’s how Insperity streamlines the process.

Companies are going global at an ever-increasing rate. Employees are hitting the road in search of clients, sales and profits. Receipts pile up. Manpower hours are lost. And some employees even spend more than their “fair” allotment, hurting profit centers.

In the daily battle to bring expenses to heel, processes are dominated by the need for both compliance and efficiency. Spending managers need to be able to limit spending and control budgets. And for employees, the movement toward greater visibility on approved expenses and reimbursement saves time and perhaps even a few blood pressure points.

In an interview with PYMNTS, Heath Butler, division president for Insperity’s financial solutions and expense management division, said that travel and expenses represent the second-largest controllable expense, after salaries, for a company. The move toward automating these expenses, from monitoring to reconciliation, means that cost savings — both in terms of real dollars and the harder-to-quantify impact of lost time — can come quickly to fruition. In fact, data from PayStream shows that there are a number of tangible benefits to automated expense reporting, chief among them processing costs, which decline, on average, by more than 40 percent, with visibility into expenses growing by 40 percent.

In the effort to keep expense management as flexible as the companies employing the technology, Insperity has just debuted its mobile app version 4.0 as part of its ExpensAble platform. The newest iteration allows for the ability of employees to attach receipts using their mobile devices, create reports offline and submit them later and have tight spending policies in place before spending occurs. The app is geared toward companies with 10 to 5,000 users and is compatible with iOS.

In terms of functionality and quick turnaround, mobile can do the job, said Butler, as budgets can be kept in balance, with pre-approvals in place for users up to a certain amount, and allocated to payments functions then utilized through mobile. Having multiple cards and users out in the field, noted Butler, may mean that budgets can get overrun quickly if a lot of transactions hit in a relatively short time or are left unchecked. Mobile lets receipts be saved electronically and submitted or even approved in near real time. “And, in some companies,” noted Butler, “employees may try, or may in fact figure out, a way to beat the system,” but with better visibility and response times (read: approval) for expenses, continued the executive, “employees are guided to make the right decision.”

For Insperity, said Butler, a few interesting data points have emerged in terms of mobile usage: “As much as 40 percent of the tens of thousands of Insperity users,” said Butler, “log on and use the platform using their mobile devices about three times a week. That type of adoption speaks well to the movement toward recording expenses when they happen.” One other avenue of expense management and discipline comes with the ExpensAble Plus prepaid MasterCard that, in effect, can help rein in spending ahead of time and help companies get funds back at the end of a sojourn if they have not been spent.

In the end, the company finds, said Butler, “that there are still a fair number of business owners, such as accountants,” that are laggards. “If you don’t trust the cloud,” he noted, “you won’t trust the technology or using mobile for expense management.” And, he added, there is still a mindset across some business owners and employees that amounts to a “points economy, especially in B2B,” where spending goes up just to capture points and rewards. Insperity will address that opportunity via mobile technology in the coming months, said Butler.