Time for SMBs to Consider New Expense Management Tools

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    With all of the new technologies available—cloud services, mobile apps and integrated financial software—you would think that small to midsize businesses (SMBs) would at least be up-to-date with their expense management tools. Not so, says Concur, a leader in expense management solutions. The company just released the findings of its SMB Financial Decision Makers survey, and the results are somewhat surprising.

    The majority of responding SMBs identified using manual expense management methods to record and invoice employee expenses—38 percent use paper-based submissions, 26 percent use corporate cards and 23 percent track expenses in Excel. Using manual methods takes more time for employees to record, takes longer for accounting staff to parse through and figure out financials, and cuts into business profitability.  

    Not surprisingly, the survey also revealed that SMB employees are seeking a faster turnaround for reimbursements from travel and expenses incurred for business. These same employees also need a flexible expense system that is automated to cut down on paperwork.

    A released whitepaper from Concur and Ardent Partners, “The SMB of the Future: Start Fast, Then Accelerate,” explains that many options are available for SMBs to provide updated business processes:

    The automation of key operational processes such as the sales, accounts receivable, and accounts payable (AP) is now an achievable goal for SMBs and one that has become a critical part of doing business. Gone are the days when being small meant having to deal with disjointed and generally inefficient, paper-based processes. For today’s SMBs, there is tremendous value in using cloud-based solutions to move key resources away from the more tedious and tactical tasks to the higher value activities that have a much greater business impact.

    The report also indicates that long-term success for SMBs depends on properly managed finances and having a flexible infrastructure that will support growth. It seems that outdated, manual solutions fall into neither of those categories.

    The results of the survey may indicate a lack of technical savvy on the part of many SMBs. As many other reports have shown, smaller businesses often do not keep dedicated IT staff, which may also explain the old-school expense processes.

    Among the many expense management offerings, Concur provides many SMBs with affordable travel and expense tools. Concur CMO Jerame Thurik says that providing upgraded tools helps business across the board:

    “Upgrading their tools from outdated to automated is the best way to reduce costs, boost bottom-lines and help SMBs focus on what matters most – the success of their business. SMBs should be aware there are automated T&E solutions that can effectively alleviate employees’ frustrations without sacrificing time and resources. Our TripLink solution, for instance, enforces travel policy and supports the need for flexibility by capturing out-of-policy cash flow. Our Price-to-Beat and Travel Points features reward employees who stay within policy and promote compliance.”

    Other expense management solutions include:

    Kim Mays has been editing and writing about IT since 1999. She currently tackles the topics of small to midsize business technology and introducing new tools for IT. Follow Kim on Google+ or Twitter.

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