Expense management is a valuable tool for organizations of all sizes, as managing receipts and tracking individual employee spending habits can take up valuable human resources. And that means that operational efficiency should benefit with a tech-driven system in place to control costs. PYMNTS spoke with Kyle Ferguson, CEO of Fraedom, based in London, to get a sense of how companies can go about streamlining this vital (and sometimes complex) function.
Expense reports are no fun. So much so, that according to a recent survey more than half of employees surveyed had not sought reimbursement because they did not want to deal with expense reports. How does your software make this process easier?
KF: Our software is built around making it easier for employees to reclaim their expenses. We cut out or automate as many processes as possible for the end user, and our aim is to create a truly “Touchless Transaction.”
So once an employee has paid for something (either by cash or corporate card), they simply take a photo of the receipt and never have to deal with it again. This “touchless” experience for the user will save them huge amounts of time each month.
We are also firmly of the belief that companies shouldn’t be expecting employees to pay for company goods with their own money and then have to go through long, laborious processes to claim that back.
There are many different ways to pay for company expenses that they can use today, so why not make the most of them. If as a last resort employees do have to use their own money, the process to reclaim that should be easy, and they should be reimbursed quickly.
What is the most effective way for organizations to understand the range of T&E payments solutions that are available in the marketplace today?
KF: There are a huge range of T&E solutions out there, and it’s a very crowded market place.
I’d suggest that businesses see what leading organizations are doing and consider where their own priority areas for improvement are — not just in the short term but in the long term, too. The worst thing to do would be to go with a T&E solution that isn’t flexible or scalable enough to grow with their business. Then, find a provider they trust who can help them navigate the options, helping them see how technology can fit their business to deliver improvements rather than their organization changing to fit the technology.
You have just announced a partnership with Itemize, which allows business users to simply take a photo of their receipt from a smartphone and upload it through the app. What are the tangible benefits of this partnership to your users? How much time can they save now?
KF: This new smart scanning technology will help free up employees from tedious admin, making it quicker and easier for staff to process their expenses.
Receipt management will be easy as there will be no need to scroll through hundreds of receipts to find the best match as this will be automatically flagged based on the data in the receipt matching the data on the transaction.
Customers will also see an increase in control as we’re making it even easier for staff to manage their expenses. By making it easy for the end user, this will increase compliance with business policies that require proof of spend for transactions. This can help prove spend is legitimate, simplify approvals and improve auditing.
How do you expect business management technology to evolve in the next two to five years, and what role will Fraedom play in this evolution?
KF: T&E management is going to get even smarter as companies innovate, and more and more companies get involved in the business of payments. We’ll also see the introduction of new payment vehicles which, combined with the right technology, will change the way companies look at their B2B payments.
Finance and procurement teams are only scratching the surface with the improvements that can be made in tackling their B2B payments. Banking products are also evolving at an exponential rate with things like single-use and virtual cards really taking off. However, increasing spend on cards requires the right technology to give organizations robust controls if their spend is increasing.
When it comes to the management of business expenses, what are the top three misconceptions in the market today, and how would you address these?
KF: Fear of corporate cards! There is always nervousness around corporate cards, and the stories of people fiddling their expenses puts companies off bringing them in.
A lot of businesses still view corporate cards as a perk of the job, when all it’s actually doing is providing a very efficient way to pay for their T&E and B2B payments.
Managing expenses is hard work. It really doesn’t need to be. The misconception that people have to take a day at the end of the month to sit and individually process hundreds of expenses is a myth as the technology solutions on the market today make this so much easier.
You can’t give employees freedom and give finance control. A common misconception is that finance teams need to micromanage and take ownership of the entire expense process.
This simply isn’t true as the right technology solution gives the finance and procurement teams the control they need to ensure policy compliance as well as visibility to analyze spend and make intelligent business decisions. At the same time it frees up staff to quickly and easily manage their expenses, leaving them with plenty of time to get on with their day jobs. The right technology solution gives businesses complete freedom of control.