Expense management • 5 min read
4 Ways to manage expenses for remote teams
By Rajveer Singh
Published July 25, 2020
As the world faces the wrath of a virus, businesses around the globe are struggling to switch entirely to the work from approach. No one could have predicted that a regional virus, confined within the territories of a small city, would turn into a global pandemic and that too in no time! During such times, businesses require serious radical changes into their work operations, and building an optimal action plan to ensure the smoothness in the working operations of the organisation, was and is both a necessity and urgency.

However, since the rate at which the virus escalated was extremely steep, and the time to consider several constraints while building the perfect optimal plan was little, therefore performance glitches were inevitable with the work from home policy. Although we cannot appreciate ourselves for the case that even before the virus we had been using optimal measures for our operations, it's just that the need for appropriate workflows has risen in synchronisation with the virus!

First things first! Can you connect easily with your colleagues? You would have installed Slack, Skype, Notion, Zoom, etc. but are these as efficient as tapping the shoulder of your office mate and asking for an urgent report? But communication is necessary even for remote teams, and sadly there is no other alternative. Still, remote teams must try to use these communication applications for important unavoidable tasks, as connecting on these networks and discussing needless stuff could burn significant productive hours of your employees.

One major impediment in the work from home approach is managing the company's budgets. Being remote, employees can find it very hard to access the company's funds for necessary expenses, and at the same time finance teams could also find it difficult to administer these expenses, A lose-lose situation for everyone! Since employees are working remotely, sharing company cards cannot be seen as an optimal solution. Forget optimal, it cannot be considered an option during such extraordinary times. Despite some major digital transitions we have had witnessed in the twenty-first century, the operation areas concerning employee expenses, reimbursements, and reconciliations still use orthodox tools including paper receipts and spreadsheets. Paper receipts and spreadsheets still rule solely when it comes to managing expenses, including a month-end deadline for employees to send every receipt of the incurred spend, and, if they don't find the time for the reimbursements and accounting, well, there's always a next month. Even though this is not an efficient way to handle the spending, but as discussed above, such fiscal practices are still adopted in majority of the companies around the world. However, in the context of the current scenario, these prosaic and inefficient practices won't hold good. Managers need to implement optimistic and efficient policies regarding expenses ensuring that, when an employee needs to incur an expense for the company he must have immediate access to the company's funds. But at the same time, they also need to keep a check if there are some out of policy expenses being incurred on the company's cost.

Let us look at 5 ways for how you could use expense management software to manage remote employees expenses.


MANAGE EXPENSES AND IMPLEMENT BUDGETS


Traditionally, if an employee had to incur some expense on the company's cost he would have paid from his pocket, and then later, probably at the end of the month, he would have filed the receipt of the expense to the finance teams claiming for reimbursements. But being remote, it's obvious that sharing pictures of receipts online at the end of the month could turn into a heavy workload for both sides. With a change in the work environment and inability to access the in-office hardware including office phones, on-desk space, and the facility to reach anyone, the employees could often end up smudging work expenses with their personal ones (like paying for office software subscriptions from their own pockets). Also, sharing company card details via images would be risky stuff to do, considering the fine odds of online frauds. To have complete control over the expenses, and potentially reduce them by filtering out inefficiencies, finance leaders need to move to a more structured, and streamlined real-time module for keeping a complete accord of expenses, a crucial stride in reducing the companies costs. With expense automation software you can allot separate individual cards to every employee of the company. Now every time an employee wants to access the funds, he can just request the manager to add the specific amount into his card and then proceed, all of this in real-time. And it's done! No more reimbursements and paper receipts. Plus the manager can prefix budgets into cards for future payments the employee will need to incur. Apart from the independence and the flexibility the employee gets, expense automation software also increases spend transparency and visibility to a great extent. Every time the employee will incur from his allotted budget, the manager in-charge will get the where, why, and when of the spend. This particularly makes it easy for the finance managers to understand if there has been some out of policy spends. This way, implementing your company's expense policy also becomes easier and effective, as employees get a fair idea of in-policy and out-policy company expenses.

VIRTUAL CARDS FOR EMPLOYEES
Generally, an office runs on the fuel called software and at a given point in time, a company must have subscribed to tens of software subscriptions. These subscriptions could be for group teams or even individual workers. Now, handling these software subscriptions is a necessary aspect to ensure that the workflows smoothly, but managing these piles of subscriptions could be an exasperating job and you could end up contemplating as you need a specific person to just handle these subscriptions.

With expense automation software, there comes an extra flexibility to create virtual cards for online payments and subscriptions. You can have unlimited virtual cards as per your subscriptions, and therefore you can even allot a certain card for a single software subscription. This way you eliminate the need for any manual interference, by automating the complete subscription management process. For more comfort and automation, you can also set recurring payments according to a time-frame of your choice to pay for the subscription automatically and in well-advance so you never have to keep a check on subscription spends. Virtual cards can also be frozen or deleted at any time if you think that you don't need to pay for the subscription anymore. This way you could ensure that all your employees are having access to their software and the workflow is never hindered!

PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOLS FOR REMOTE TEAMS

As discussed above, if one was to handle the company expenses using traditional ways for remote teams, it's hard to describe the level of complexity and effort that would be waiting for you. Moreover during such a crisis, with a serious decline in the revenues, creating a tuned balance between incoming and outgoing funds, should be the priority for finance managers. The concern for them should not be only to ensure that they have the funds to pay for the bills, but what matters is that, in the end, they are generating positive revenue numbers for the company. This can be achieved either by cutting costs, figuring new areas of growth, or possibly a mixture of both.

Employees would have had huge difficulty in accessing the company's funds and managers even more while reimbursing them. Plus during such extraordinary times employees can feel demotivated, and if they find difficulty in accessing the company's funds for essential tasks this could further ruin their productivity. Vague spending policies could be difficult for them to understand and dissolve, thus leading to unnecessary expenses. With expense management software, you can get past such hurdles with great ease. And it can be hard for anyone to engulf, but there are no better alternatives than switching to more agile expense management software. With automation comes great employee independence, spend transparency, and the ability to completely administer your budget within the palm of your hand. Adapting to expense automation software, comes with no negative concomitants, whatsoever!

BUDGETING AND TRACKING EXPENSES
When asked about the difficulties in their work operations, major finance professionals said that managing the cash flow within the company is something that takes a dig at both time and effort. Expenses can be notorious for being a microscopic drain on an organisation's capital resources. Expense sprawl can occur across any area of spend, but the day to day money-based purchases are the most difficult to get control of. It's hard to exactly track the company's money, and month ends bring an overwhelming amount of work for the fiscal teams, and even harder to express the kind of work they do at the end of a financial year. The two major reasons for this situation are

  1. Lack of spend visibility in real-time

  2. Issue in the quality of data

Despite different departments spending nimbly, finance teams find it difficult to track the money leaving the company.

But for the good, finance teams are gradually switching to fintech solutions, as the need for one has soared because of the backwash of the Covid-19.

With an expense management solution such as Volopay, whenever an employee incurs an expense on their cards, the financial manager gets real-time data insights regarding the spend. Thus he is acquainted with the earlier shadowed aspects of the data concerning where, why, and when of the expense. And what gets measured can easily be managed!


Unfortunately, no one can precisely predict what the coronavirus' impact would be for the global economy. We have witnessed the financial crisis of 2000 and 2008, but definitely, this seems something requiring more concern, and the finance leaders are expected to take actions that could help them sail through this uncertainty. There is not much these organisations can do to increase their revenues. However, there are tools that can help them to save on their working capital and sustain their operations uninterruptedly. Spend management systems are emerging as an effective weapon against the financial crisis following the coronavirus outbreak.


If you want an in-depth explanation on how you could switch to Volopay, book for a free demo today!


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