Finding The Right Expense Management Solution For Your Company

In recent times, initiatives such as the Sarbannes Oxley Act in the US have dramatically raised the profile of compliance within the corporate world. As a key element of any corporate compliance policy, expense management has shared some of the limelight. As a result, an Expense Management Solution (EMS) is now critical to any business concerned with corporate compliance. But what is an Expense Management Solution (EMS)? Does your company need one? And where do you find a good one? Just as importantly, how do you successfully implement and integrate an Expense Management Solution (EMS) into your corporate environment. This article sheds some light on these issues.

What is an Expense Management Solution (EMS)?

The term expense management solution has been used to describe quite different commercial products and services. In the context of this article, an expense management solution is defined as a technology based system that processes:

(i) transaction records received from a credit card issuer (detailing employee use of corporate credit cards0; and

(ii) cash reimbursement claims originated by an employee.

In practice the target application is Travel and Entertainment expenditure. A robust Expense Management Solution (EMS) will also support procurement (pCard) activities as part of a broader strategy of effectively managing lower value, high volume business-to-business transactions.

The three core steps of any expense management process are:

1. the acceptance/input of validated source data;
2. the application of predetermined rules of handling expense records; and
3. the posting of transactions to a corporate repository such as an ERP system.

What is the purpose of an Expense Management Solution (EMS)?

The objectives of an expense management solution implementation should include the following:

1. to automate the preparation, submission, approval, and auditing of travel & entertainment claims, thus improving the productivity of account holders and reducing the time and cost of accounts staff;

2. to support the implementation of a standardized best practice method of managing high volume expenses through the use of corporate credit cards; and

3. to increase the transparency and enhance the governance of financial transactions conducted on behalf of the enterprise.

Sources of Expense Management Solutions

Australian and international organizations now have access to a range of quality expense management solutions which are well suited to driving down administration cost whilst meeting corporate compliance requirements. There are essentially three sources of expense management solutions:

1. ERP systems;
2. systems offered by card issuers; and
3. best-of-breed solutions.

Each will have their own merits and will suit organizations in different circumstances.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems

ERP sourced expense management has the attraction of being fully integrated within the financial suite of software, therefore offering a standard look and feel to all users of the ERP. With ERP sourced expense management functionality, the ERP supplies the core software, and the enterprise needs to customize and configure the system to reflect its own structures and rules regarding the management of staff expenses. If you’re considering the option of using their ERP for expense management, you need to be conscious of a number of factors, including:

the actual functionality available within their specific installed ERP system;
the backlog of work on the ERP system accumulated for the IT department; and
the deployment time and the cost of the project (which will usually be substantial).
License costs can be an issue if an enterprise if your company has not paid a license fee that will cover all card account holders and cash claimants.

Card Issuer Systems

Some card issuers promote expense management solutions which can range from a computer generated report through to an online system with some embedded workflow concepts. The attraction of card issuer expense management solutions is that they are offered as part of a card deal, sometimes (apparently) for free. If you’re considering a card issuer expense management solution, you need to know:

will you be ‘locked in’ to the card issuer?; and
will you be able to configure the expense management solution to adequately reflect internal requirements?

Best-of-Breed Solutions

Best-of-breed expense management solutions from specialist providers can be relatively seamlessly interfaced to an organization’s internal systems such as HR and ERP, but will not present a common look and feel to the ERP system. You would usually choose a best-of-breed expense management solution if you want:

1. your company to be independent of a particular card issuer;
2. to achieve a fast implementation; and/or
3. to configure the solution to its own unique rules and policies of expense administration.

Best-of-breed expense management solutions are typically deployed as either an ASP (Application Service Provider) or self hosted solution. Although exceptions are common, small to medium enterprises tend to appreciate the lower up-front cost of an ASP expense management solution, and larger enterprises are attracted to the control available through a self-hosted expense management solution. ASP expense management solutions are typically paid for on a per statement per month basis, and self-hosted expense management solutions have a range of options available from up-front license fees to monthly license rentals.

Overcoming the Cultural Resistance to Expense Management Solutions

Some Finance Directors still have an aversion to corporate credit cards. It’s not uncommon to hear a finance director say if I give everyone a card, they’ll spend us broke!

However, the benefits of an Expense Management Solution are apparent as soon as the Finance Director considers the difficulties of controlling the expenditure behavior of thousands of employees using a manual system of reimbursements which is largely based around a set of uncoordinated spreadsheets. Basic activities such as enforcing travel policies, calculating tax implications, reconciling, posting to a chart of accounts at a detailed level and auditing, are so difficult as to be more honored in the breach than the observance…

Viewed from a different perspective, a company with revenues of $700m $50m in EBITDA, and $20m in annual employee business expenses, can make a dramatic impact on its bottom line using an expense management solution without increasing revenue. If automation reduces these expenses by only five per cent in the first year, the savings alone have the same impact on the bottom line as $14m in new revenue. It isnt surprising that the return on investment of an expense management project is often achieved within its first 12 months of operation.

Expense Management Solutions also play a vital role in Fraud Control. Fraud in this context takes many guises, not all of which are the sort that land perpetrators in court. Information taken from our own customer experience and from publications of the USA Association of Certified Fraud Examiners identify the top four categories of fraud:

1. Mischaracterized expenses
2. Overstated (exaggerated) payments
3. Fictitious expenses
4. Multiple reimbursements

Research in the USA has pointed to as much as 1% of company revenues being lost to employee expense mismanagement. Expense Management Systems will not, in their own right, eliminate this but they are a vital tool in creating an environment that drives down the level of mismanagement.

Conclusion

Over the past 18 months, our company has observed a change in motivation for expense management projects. Whereas formerly expense management solutions were an exercise solely in the reduction of administration costs, now governance is equally a driver to implement technology based controls around high volume expenditure. The Sarbannes Oxley (SOX) act in the USA has captured the attention of any enterprise active in the USA. However, inside or outside the USA, the senior executives must warrant that their company has implemented adequate financial controls that prevent fraud and give a true and correct record of the enterprises financial activities. As a result, the Corporate Travel Manager who pitches a proposal on expense management to the senior executive team currently finds a willing audience.

Enter In China And See Your China Business Prosper With Profits

Take a leap forward in China and head toward the market instead of its mighty walls what today’s offshore import and export China business enthusiasts do. Follow the footsteps of leaders to discover the enormous business opportunities lies in China’s import and export industry. Already small and mid sized import and export companies from various parts of the world are keen on venturing China business and global sourcing. Numerous legendary companies of US like United Technologies, GE, Motorola, DuPont etc., have established deep penetration in China market. As per an estimation taken in 1992, 3,100 small and medium scale import and export companies have landed in China and later the number rose to more than 20,000. From manufacturing to exporting and servicing, China business opportunities are burgeoning and attracting all size of import and export businesses from the rest of the world. Over the last decade, number of US import and export companies taken up China business has raised at an astronomical rate more than five times faster than other parts of the world.

-Scope of China Business Broad Market Range and Manufacturing Potential

Attractive China business opportunities are growing and the growth is spanning through diverse industries. The growth is already evident in a series of industries, like medical, construction, energy exporting China business, telecommunications, agribusiness, machine tools, security and recreational products and service market, infrastructure etc. These are just to name a few of the vast import and export market where overseas China business owners are venturing in.

-China Business Partnership of Us Companies

China and Hong Kong together has become the third largest export partner of USA Canada and Mexico have taken the first and second position. China continues encouraging US based import and export companies to venture and fortify greater business partnership. To generate further enthusiasm amongst more US business owners, Hu Jintao, the president of China, sent two hundred Chinese executives for a buying tour to US. US companies’ trade offices being located in China and fostered by China speak how US companies are deepening their penetration in China business and import and export industry.

-Haven for Import and Export Companies and Investors

Besides immense potential found in import and export China business, China has become the heaven for overseas investors. USA companies alone have invested over three billion dollars annually, making China the third largest investing area in the world. China is yielding sumptuous returns on investment, also profits at an expected ratio to the overseas investors. US companies are reaping myriad benefits by investing in manufacturing China business. The list of benefits includes competitive labour resources in China, incentives on investment and extensive local markets of China.

-Investment in Locally Manufactured and Imported Products in China

China now allows foreign firms to invest in China’s locally manufactured products as well as to support in products brought through global sourcing. Small and medium sized companies can secure huge benefits for trading different types of China business ventures in locally manufactured products, imported goods and import and export of both locally manufactured and goods accessed through global sourcing in China.

Pmp Certification- An Important Career Move

As a project manager with many years experience under your belt, still you will find many circumstances which challenge your abilities and skills to mange projects successfully. As the projects come in all sizes and shapes, it makes your job all the more challenging and tough. With some of them having no past history the job as a project leader becomes more daunting as the learning and gathering information phase extends. This brings a lot more pressure to perform within the timelines and budget. For a project manager the responsibility delivering quality results with limited resources often builds up stressful working situation. Importantly as a good project manger you are expected to work against all these odds and still perform.
Some of the challenges that project mangers come across in projects can be listed as:

Unrealistic deadlines
Change in project scope
Failure to manage risk
Insufficient team skill
Customers and end users are not engaged during the project
Lack of well defined vision and goals
Ineffective communication

So much at hand necessitates a tool, an approach that provides project manager with the right knowledge and skills. Project Management is the answer and obtaining a PMP certification would be the right move for your career. Project management not only equips project individuals with skills to mange projects but also provides value to organizations. Project Management Certification Exam (PMP) is a globally recognized and most respected certification. PMP Certification is offered by Project Management Institute (PMI), which addresses the requirements of project managers in communication management, integration, quality, cost, human resources, risk and time. For PMP Certification in India, AstroWix a Registered Education Provider of PMI provides Project Management training to help professionals with the PMP Certification, USA.

The buzz of project management is going around and in coming times there would be a very high demand for certified professionals. To acquire a PMP certification for you would certainly be a decision that will pay off. Moreover, there are likely to be tens of thousands of qualified professionals who will pursue and gain their PMP certification in the coming years. The impact of these newly certified Program Managers would see a strengthened link between programs, initiatives and organizational strategy in both the public and private sector. No competitive project professional or an organization should miss this train!