No one knows the future, but here are five really good guesses.

Christene Oganov |

Staying on top of spending by staying on top of change.  

Our first prediction is that you weren’t planning to read this whole blog. But we’ll change that with one simple statement:  

The how, where, and why of corporate spending have changed dramatically,  

and if you don’t change how you manage that spending, you’ll end up paying for it. 

So, how do you stay ahead of the changes in employee spending brought on by a new, work-from-anywhere culture? How do you move out of the survival mode of the last 18 months and into a growth mindset? How do you finally, finally get control over spending when you’re inundated with new expenses, new payment types, shifting employee expectations, demands for sustainability, and the desire for scalability?  

According to our recent discussions with Accenture, you rethink your travel and expense management system to find ways to move faster, to continuously improve results, and to fit what’s next.  

1. Risk is going to get worse. Compliance is going to get better.  

The more things change, the more things like risk and fraud go through the roof. Between 2019 and 2020, for example, (a time, if you remember, of somewhat profound change) spend violations increased a whopping 292%.1 As a finance leader, you need the strategies and systems to immediately adapt to change and, ultimately, keep risks at bay. Part of the solution to slowing non-compliant spend is, obviously, to make compliance easier. Intelligent tools like AI and machine learning can help guide employees to better choices, and with human and AI auditing processes, you can catch more out-of-policy spend.  

2. Spend governance will be a lot sexier than it sounds.  

To keep up with evolving spending trends, you need to capture and analyze all of your spend data. To do that, deploy intelligent automation tools to watch over everything from transactions to tax credits – then use those real-time insights to improve control over travel and expense spending, to improve process efficiency, and to improve your ability to forecast.  

3. Travel will no longer be a guessing game.  

Before the pandemic, companies hardly had a clue where their employees were or when they were coming back. Today, that simply isn’t an option. The right travel and expense solution will capture itineraries regardless of how they were booked. They’ll also give you the ability to preapprove bookings before the money is spent, while giving travelers pre-trip advice regarding everything from neighborhood safety scores to Covid-19 restrictions to sustainable transportation. So they can travel safely, and you can safely balance your budget.  

4. Liking your job will actually be a thing.  

It’s all about the employee experience – not about making their work easier, but about taking meaningless, mindless work off their plates and yours, so everyone can do what they were hired to do. The time-wasting tasks we’re talking about? Chasing down receipts, writing up expense reports, jumping from system to system to complete a simple chore – that sort of thing. Automating those processes also eliminates errors, so you get more accurate expense information, and employees get to do the kind of work that helps them feel productive and engaged.  

5. You can confidently talk about growth again.  

Your peers are getting ready to grow – 84% of them have at least one growth-related goal for the next year, and three-quarters are more optimistic about their growth than that of the global economy2. Why is their glass half full? They have real-time data that shows whether or not their policies and procedures fit current spending patterns, and where they don’t, they have intelligent tools to make the necessary changes. So instead of trying to do things the way they’ve always been done, they’re adapting, they’re automating, they’re accurately predicting, and they’re auditing everything. It’s how they’re getting ahead, and it’s the only way to grow.  

Now, if you made it to the end of this blog, congratulations on proving our first prediction wrong. If you want to see why we’re not wrong about the others, check out the whitepaper.  

 

1SAP® Concur® Spend Insights report 

2SAP Concur and Economist Group, Ready, Reset, Grow report