Leadership & Productivity

How to improve visibility of expense spend across a growing workforce

4 min read

25 July 2017

If you're looking to make your startup a scale-up, you need to get a few things right from day one. Here's a guide.

In the early stages of a business, it’s often the least troublesome tasks that later prove to be most problematic. It’s those processes that seem so simple when an organisation is small which are prone to fall apart as your growing workforce expands.

A common scalability trap that catches businesses out is with expense management. It’s an aspect of company finances that can initially seem disarmingly straightforward – not an area to particularly worry about.

It means that many companies adopt a traditional set-up with spreadsheets and manual processes used to keep track of costs. Employees attach paper copies of receipts to monthly claim forms which are checked and processed by finance teams.

It’s not a particularly fast or efficient way to work but it can cope adequately with the minimal demands of a small organisation. The inherent problems only reveal themselves as a business starts to grow in scale and administrative complexity.

A growing workforce: Resource hog

The increasing amount of processing starts to eat away at resources as finance teams struggle to keep up with the paperwork demands. This creates an information lag with expenses often taking weeks to process and reimburse.

The reliance on spreadsheets also means that information becomes scattered across an organisation. For a start-up operating out of a single office, this may not initially pose a problem, but as the company expands it becomes a logistical nightmare to manage.

With no simple way to share and sync data between spreadsheets, expense information becomes dangerously fragmented, creating confusion amongst finance teams over which datasets are validated and up-to-date.

This combination of slow processes and fragmented data prevents a business from accessing fast and accurate information on expense spend. It’s a lack of visibility that makes expenses so susceptible to workplace fraud, causing annual losses of around £100 million for UK companies.

A growing workforce: Avoiding pitfalls

It’s to avoid these common pitfalls that growing businesses are turning to automated digital expense systems. These provide the flexibility and scalability that’s required for an expense set-up to grow along with a business.

These systems ensure that no matter how large a workforce gets or how complex the organisation becomes, the finance team maintains 20/20 expense spend visibility. This is thanks to the use of cloud-based data and automated processes which track every aspect of employee expenses.

From the moment a claim is submitted, a digital system starts to automatically generate and store information – everything from the costs and categories to the exact details of who handles the claim at each stage.

With all of this data connected by the cloud and instantly accessible, it allows a finance team to centrally manage and monitor the expenses of any kind of workforce – from the simplicity of a start-up to the complexities of a global corporation.

A growing workforce: Reporting workshop

A system such as webexpenses also provides a powerful set of reporting tools to allow any expense information to be easily collated and manipulated. Reporting tasks that would take hours with a manual setup can be completed in minutes.

So while a growing company may not initially see the need for a digital expense management, the benefits will soon become all too apparent as they begin to grow. With the challenges facing businesses, it’s a lesson that can have costly consequences.

Webexpenses provides a smarter way to manage and monitor employee expenses. Take a look and book a free demo here.