The Most Overlooked Part Of Your Payment Strategy: Costs

By Lynn Larson, CPCP, NAPCP Education Manager (@NAPCP1)  

As individuals, our lives consist of many different numbers—our age, address, salary, blood pressure, height, weight, etc. No single one defines who we are. The same is true in the Commercial Card industry. No single statistic represents the status of the industry. Nor is the success of a particular card program defined by just one number. Your clients—the buying organizations (“end-users”)—should utilize many different numbers (metrics) in conjunction with program management. The key word here is “utilize.”

It is not enough to just look at the numbers. Per results from an NAPCP poll, nearly 20 percent of respondents noted their organizations do nothing with metrics other than review and look at them.

Help your clients take action, which could prove to be sale opportunities for you. If their card program numbers:

  • Demonstrate success, ensure these successes are shared at a management level 

  • Highlight opportunities, work with them to identify options for maximizing their payments strategy 

  • Reveal weaknesses, guide them on making program improvements. 

Other NAPCP poll results demonstrate more improvement opportunities; following are examples of what the numbers reveal.

P-Card Spend Limits: Analyze the Numbers

We know procurement cards (P-Cards) are ideal for low-value transactions, especially ones that are $2,500 or less, yet more than 33 percent of end-users utilize a standard single transaction limit below $2,000. More than half utilize a standard monthly/cycle limit below $10,000. Are legitimate transactions being declined as a result of conservative spend limits? Nearly one-third of end-users seldom or never conduct an analysis of cardholders’ limits. Such an analysis typically serves to determine whether each cardholder’s limits are appropriate, supporting business operations and aligning with card program goals and targeted transactions.

P-Card Activity: Minimize Stagnant Numbers

An annual analysis of cardholders’ spend activity can also reveal under-utilized cards that may no longer be needed. Per NAPCP poll results, 25 percent of end-users report that 40 percent or more of their P-Cards/One Cards are unused on a monthly basis.

Inactive and/or unused cards may pose a risk and decrease the efficiency of a client’s program as a whole. Advise them to define “inactive card” within their program policies and procedures, sharing with them your recommendation. Also encourage them to monitor related metrics and take action as warranted.

P2P Process Costs: Know the Numbers

Procure-to-pay (P2P) process costs are one of the most important, yet overlooked, numbers in conjunction with an organization’s payments strategy. Sixty-six percent of end-users do not know their current process costs for P-Card and other payment methods.

Too often, end-users rely on industry averages, which may or may not represent their organization. They need to calculate the costs of their specific P2P processes and then compare to industry benchmarks to see how they fare on a broad scale. They could then use the information to gain management buy-in for P-Card program expansion or as a driver for program improvements.

These numbers are just the beginning. Together, you and your clients can make plans to change their program numbers for the better.

Hundreds of Numbers at Your Fingertips

The NAPCP website offers a plethora of numbers to support card program management and maximization efforts. Notably, NAPCP polls are hugely popular. Most include a tip from the NAPCP, so you can compare the responses to best practices. They don’t always line up! Poll participation and results are accessible to NAPCP members and complimentary subscribers. Visit to subscribe today.

Lynn Larson, CPCP, NAPCP Education Manager

Lynn Larson, CPCP, has been with the NAPCP—a professional association for the Commercial Card and payment industry—since September 2003. She has extensive card experience, including serving as a P”‘Card program manager for an organization within the Minneapolis area for nearly nine years. She regularly speaks on Purchasing Card topics at NAPCP events, as well as events hosted by other organizations. In June 2007, Lynn earned the Certified Purchasing Card Professional (CPCP) credential, which she continues to maintain. In addition, Lynn’s previous work experience includes more than 10 years in the procurement field.


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