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Why visibility into business expenses is important

Posted by Indrajit Palit | Oct 24, 2019

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Are you getting enough visibility into your T&E spends?

If you’re an organization with over a thousand expense reports a month, chances are that you might not have enough visibility into your business spends. Even with an expense management system that seamlessly digitizes receipts and creates expense reports, the large volume of reports often overwhelms the team of finance team members tasked with handling them. On the other hand, business managers looking to stay within budget often find themselves lost in spreadsheets when figuring out what to cut.

Unfortunately, a lot of companies tend to have open travel and expenses policies, don’t have effective control mechanisms in place, or blindly commit to purchases they have no visibility on, and expense tracking often lags a month behind. Not having real-time visibility into your company’s spending causes a host of problems, including

Risks hiding in expense reports:

We have recently interviewed multiple CFOs and founders across a variety of industries and summarised that for most companies in their current expense management set up only 10% of the expense reports are getting reviewed or audited.

Some of the common problems hiding in plain sight are duplicate receipts. We have seen cases where the same employee has filed for the same reimbursement in two different expense reports or where two different employees have filed for the same reimbursement in two different expense reports. There also have been cases where employees have been reimbursed for minibar usage in hotels, alcohol usage in restaurants, or even spa treatments.

Visibility into high-risk expenses is critical because not all expenses are created equal. Our research suggests that high-risk expenses although low in number, make up for a significant number in dollar value expensed by the company.

Money is not the only risk either as some expenses can damage the company reputation if it comes to light that expenses items were used as a personal gain by the employees.

Non-transparency in business spends:

Not having real-time visibility into your company’s spending causes a host of problems, including:

 - Increased risk for fraud

- Making expense management decisions time consuming

- Limited ability to make informed adjustments to budgets.

- Formulate effective control benchmarks for budgeting exercises

How AI can help:

Given the value at risk, many enterprises are now turning to Artificial Intelligence to automate the process of the expense report review and auditing process. AI not only gives complete visibility into expenses and a method for identifying fraud, not only reducing the burden on your financial team so they can focus on more important tasks but also helping you reduce costs that might otherwise leak out of your bottom line.

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