This is the third blog of our four-parts series about modernising your expense management processes. If you missed the two first ones, follow these links to catch up on how to reduce your costs and the steps to consider when choosing an expense manegemement solution.In this part, we are going to shed light on the more complex and technical aspects to when choosing an expense management platform.
This is a mandatory step as you will need to make sure the platform you choose is compliant with all the regulations applicable to your company as well as compatible with softwares you are already using - your IT team will thank you.
Here are 3 most important aspects to look out for:
Data Security, the Cloud, and You
When you decide to implement a cloud-based expense management solution, it goes without saying that your data will be stored in the cloud. While it’s tempting to think of the cloud as meaning “everywhere”, your data will actually be stored in a specific data centre in a specific location.
Each country and region has its own regulations regarding data protection and cloud services. Make sure you do research about your government's regulations and ensure that your supplier is compliant.
With GDPR coming into place in May 2018, EU based companies, should be extra careful about the handling and location of their data. The ICO has released a helpful paper which contains some further tips on how to plan and comply for the GDPR.
Aside from the security, your software provider should be able to ensure :
- Access to your data without hindrance.
- High guaranteed uptime (typically 99.9%).
- Retain ownership of your data and IP
- Comply with local regulations and auditors.
These factors should be a given if you work with a reputable company who uses high-quality hosts.
Below the 10 of the most important question you should ask you Saas provider before making your decisions. These will help you avoid any bad surprises:
Do you have a shared or private environment ?
Where are you servers located ?
Are they ISO certified ?
What are their SLA - Service Level Agreement ?
Is the platform externally audited ?
Who owns the data ? what happens to it if you stop using the service ?
Do they store credit card information ? If yes, are you PCI compliant ?
Do you keep an audit trail of all actions taken in the platform ?
Is the communication encrypted ?
Don’t forget to involve your internal IT and security team at this stage of the process. Their knowledge and expertise will be helpful.
Choosing a Future-Proof Solution
How do you ensure that you invest in an expense tool that won’t be out-of-date next year? There’s nothing worse than migrating to a new tool only to have to do the same process 12 months later because your needs have changed.
There are three ways to ensure this won’t happen to you:
- Choose a scalable solution – When implementing a Saas platform for your expense management, you should be able to independently handle the everyday use and update of the platform. Adding 50 new users should be as easy as adding 5 and certainly shouldn’t take 10x as long. And you should be able to change policies, roles and flows simply by logging in into the platform. A scalable solution will ensure the platform you implement is relevant regardless of how quickly your business grows and change.
- Look at the evolution of the platform in the past 2 years – Your provider should be passionate about the solution they are offering you, continuously updating it to meet the latest standards and requirements. Don’t be afraid to ask about the evolution of the platform 2 years ago. This will allow you to assess whether the teams are constantly working to improve and innovate and do not simply rely on previous achievements.
- Anticipate your future needs – Every company works to grow and evolve. It’s probably your case as well. Look at your company’s objectives for the next 5 years to understand what will be needed to align and help your teams achieve success. Confirm that the platforms you are looking will be able to respond to those.
Software integrations can be the either a very hard process or an easy one. This is why you need to plan and discuss all the technical integrations you will need with your supplier, It teams and accounting team. Discussing the subject before the implementation phase will allow you and your provider to explore the different options and choose a preferred one.
Below 3 important integrations you should not skip.
Integration with your ERP system – One of the many process improvements your finance team will enjoy is the ability to integrate your expense platform with your accounting systems. This will allow a seamless flow of information between the two platform and save the team a tremendous amount of time.
SSO - Does you company uses Single Sign On ? Make sure the platform that you are going to use can easily integrate in your SSO environment. This will help the adoption of the tool as well as your employees' experience.
Credit card integration - Reconciling credit card statements with receipts can quickly become a nightmare for both your employees and your accounting team. You can ask for a direct integration of the credit card flow to your expense management platform. This way the matching of receipts with credit card statement can be automated and your teams can track every spending.
After evaluating all these points, your decision will seem very simple. The next big step will be to implement the platform.
In our next post, we’ll be taking a detailed look at how to roll out an expense automation platform.