Let’s face it: business expenses aren’t always a walk in the park.
Who hasn’t spent their weekend afternoons reviewing and approving expense claims? Ever had to sift through the company statements to make sure spending is following protocol? Ever realized too late that they’ve gone over budget, yet again?
To this day, many companies (perhaps even yours) are faced with these challenges. Staying on top of spending takes far too much time and energy - but most importantly, money.
Good news: it doesn’t have to be this way anymore. There are practical, effective solutions that take the work out of spend management.
Even better, you can start using these tools straightaway.
In this article, we’ll share our tips and tricks for making spend management easy (really).
Tip #1 : Make your spending policy clear...
...to avoid any confusion.
Let’s start with the basics: the company’s spending policy.
It’s hard to manage expenses sustainably in the long term without setting out a clear spending policy.
This document serves to codify the way the company will handle all kinds of business expenses.
- it describes eligible costs;
- it sets a limit for each category of expenses;
- it defines deadlines for submitting receipts;
- depending on the type of purchase, it outlines the additional information needed for submission.
Spending policy needs to be clear, precise and comprehensive. When in doubt, any employee should be able to refer to these guidelines. If everyone is on the same page, you can avoid frustration down the line.
In that spirit, the text should be straightforward, easy to understand and leave no room for (mis)interpretation. It can be helpful to collaborate with others in drafting these rules, reworking them until they raise no further issues.
Don’t know where to start? Don’t know what to include? Not to worry - we’ve created a customizable template that can help get you started, which you’ll find here.
Tip #2 : Assign custom payment methods...
...and say goodbye to paper receipts.
Are your employees using their personal cards to make business-related purchases?
Do you rely on a single card for all your company expenses?
We’ll admit these solutions are far from ideal.
In the first instance, employees are expected to advance the money upfront. Then fill out an expense claim. Then submit their receipts. The end result: a lot of time spent on low-value tasks for a simple transaction.
In the second scenario, you’re the single point of access for the company card. Either you have to physically bring the card to the requester or send sensitive details through your messaging app. Either way it’s problematic: logistically it’s a strain and, security-wise, it’s incredibly risky.
Thankfully, there are some payment options that can work better for you.
For recurring payments
Scenario 1: Marie is a salesperson at an agency in Lyon. At least twice a month, she travels throughout the region visiting clients. In this instance, she’s bought a train ticket and invited some new potential clients to lunch...
In this example, Marie’s purchases qualify as recurrent payments.
Issuing her a customizable business card is the most appropriate solution.
This custom card’s features are pre-defined.
You stay in control of expenses, and your employees no longer have to advance funds for the company. Everybody wins.
At Qonto, you’ll find a selection of cards that you can make your own. You can:
- set spending limits by day, month or by transaction;
- limit card use to set days of the week or during set hours;
- restrict online or foreign purchases.
For one-off purchases
Scenario 2: Ghita is the Head of Products at Qonto. A few months ago, she traveled to Lyon to attend a Go Entrepreneurs conference. She has never had to make a business-related purchase before, so she doesn’t have a card.
Temporary cards are best suited to occasional purchases. Yet despite the freedom they provide, they are little-known in France.
How does a temporary card work?
It works very much the same way a virtual card does, for internet purchases or for retail purchases with Apple Pay, for example. But there’s one big exception: their use is limited and they’re generally reserved for one-off payments.
You can set a cap on spending and even set a time limit for purchases.
With Qonto, you can easily set up a Flash Card for these ephemeral purchases.
Tip #3 : Set budget limits for each project...
...so you can stay in control of teams’ expenses.
Serge is at the head of a construction company. As it is with every company, managing his finances means juggling a variety of circumstances. Sometimes it’s hard to make heads or tails of it all.
In December, for example, he had to make some onetime purchases (organizing a Christmas meal for his employees, hiring a contractor to update the company website...).
On top of that, he also had his regular expenses, like equipment rentals and buying material for his job sites. And let’s not forget taxes and payroll.
Actually, Serge only has a vague idea of the budgets he’s set for these expenses. When he consults his business account, he sees the money going out but can’t always figure out what went where. And trying to work that out manually just takes too much time.
Recognize yourself in this scenario? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many companies struggle to maintain visibility over their expenses.
Avoid confusion by setting out clear and consistent budgets for each project. For even more transparency, open multiple accounts.
On a practical level, having several sub-accounts allows you to deposit the preset budget funds directly into a team or project’s dedicated account. That way, each purchase can be easily categorized and, on your end, you can see in real-time where the money is going.
And the more you know about your cashflow, the less you’re likely to overspend.
Tip #4 : Automate how you collect receipts...
...and stay in good standing, no matter what.
Collecting receipts is a real time-waster. Chasing after stragglers, linking the right receipt to the right transaction...
Thankfully, these days, there are some solutions that can really smooth out the process.
It’s simple: digital receipts. Store and sort the digital versions of your paper receipts electronically.
No need to keep piles of paper for 10 years. Free up space, minimize losses and gain peace of mind.
It’s even easier for your employees. All they need to do is snap a picture of their receipt and upload it to the designated space on your dashboard.
With Qonto, you can go even further with receipt collection and bookkeeping. Automatically follow up on late submissions of expense claims, submit receipts via email, and automatically detect VAT on receipts. Done. (Almost).
Tip#5 : Empower your team leaders
...so you can focus on what’s really important to your business.
Often Upper Management likes to keep a tight grip on spending, to feel they’re in control.
The problem is that they end up losing energy engaging in repetitive, time-consuming tasks such as approving purchases.
Effective spend management is a team effort.
With the right tools, you can confidently designate certain jobs to team leaders and breathe easy.
At Qonto, we recently set up a Manager Role function that we think might interest you. You can assign this particular role from your dashboard to whichever employee you choose. The profile you assign them has preset functions that you can control, like approving spend requests and managing card settings.
This new setup benefits the whole organization. Less wait time, less friction and projects move along faster. Employees are empowered, and therefore feel more engaged and motivated at work. And - cherry on the cake - you save precious time. So you can focus on building your business.
These 5 tips will help you handle business expenses quickly and easily. You have everything you need to reshape your company’s finances, starting today.