Within the enterprise, there is an initial invoice associated with any purchase, but the payments don’t stop there. According to Apptricity CEO Tim Garcia, if a company buys, for example, a laptop or a fleet of several thousand vehicles, there are future payments associated with those assets, like maintenance and repairs.
Tracking all of these payments is critical to businesses and government entities to not only understand how the company is making purchases, but also to manage corporate spend on all of those products beyond the initial purchase order.
Even before a purchase is made, companies often lack the visibility and real-time data they need to determine inventory, he said.
“We see that a lot, when people don’t have visibility throughout different sites, locations or facilities,” Garcia recently told PYMNTS in an interview. “Typically, companies have 20 percent of their inventory, but they lack the visibility across locations, so they overstock.”
Before any purchase is made, a company must have insight into inventory levels to prevent unnecessary corporate spend — which means spend management occurs even before a purchase is made.
But once purchase orders go out, companies don’t just need real-time data into what they’re buying, they need to track online payments made on any assets procured over time.
Recent research from eRequester released last month found that while procurement spend visibility is critical to cutting back on financial losses, there are several factors standing in the way of gaining that insight, from rogue procurement to outdated ERP systems that cannot capture historic spend data fast enough.
“What companies are looking for is real-time visibility, not only from a purchase standpoint,” Tim Garcia explained. “They’re looking at the service on a vehicle or truck, which vehicles are out of service, how much money they’re spending — the data allows them to see what they’re spending, who they’re spending the money with and, in the case of fleet management, what does it cost to run and maintain certain vehicles, which ones are lemons.”
Based on this information, a company may decide to get rid of a vehicle entirely, rather than continue to pump money into repair costs, he said.
If a company purchases 50 laptops, on the other hand, spend management capabilities mean companies can track maintenance, repairs and warranties on those assets as well. Coupled with inventory management, the enterprise can view where those assets are and whether some laptops should be shipped to different locations based on inventory levels.
Garcia noted that Apptricity tracks invoices made on individual assets throughout its lifetime — from purchase all the way through disposal — and combines the inventory and supply chain management capabilities of its offering to ensure that purchases are made when they’re actually needed.
In addition to fleet and procurement, Apptricity can analyze spend made while on business trips with its T&E offering.
With historic spend data originating across departments in the enterprise — fleet, procurement, accounts payable and corporate travel, to name a few — gaining insight into spend across the board is a challenge for many organizations. Data management is key, Garcia noted.
Traditionally, he explained, Apptricity would aggregate data from accounting and ERP systems to analyze transactions. But the firm recently announced news of a partnership with corporate payments company WEX, integrating its commercial and fleet card offerings so that Apptricity can automatically access transaction data from commercial cards to analyze online payments.
Non-electronic payments, said Garcia, can impede that real-time visibility and lead to unnecessary purchases.
“If companies go the traditional route — they execute a purchase order and 30 days later they send a check — you have this window where it’s no man’s land,” he said. If someone within the organization purchases 50 laptops and pays for it via check, a coworker may not have visibility into that purchase — and make a duplicate 50 laptop purchase, too.
“What electronic payments do is make the decision-making process a lot faster,” Garcia said.
But perhaps most importantly, in addition to faster access to real-time data, digital payments can enable the automatic aggregation of transaction data for the purpose of examining historical information.
“Electronic payments streamlines the payment process and budgeting process, streamlines early payment discounts, and it allows us to track all expenditures,” he said, adding that the company chose WEX and its commercial card capabilities to help companies take advantage of those early digital payment discounts from suppliers and rewards and rebates from card companies.
“Electronic payments help track the purchase order, the payment, the historical maintenance, the historical spend on an asset and track the disposition of that asset,” the CEO continued. “You have complete history, and it allows you to close the books a lot faster, to track finances for tax purposes, to more quickly establish a budget for next year.”