Beyond Corporate Cards: The Next Step for a Smarter Spend Program

By The Center Team on February 8, 2024

In Center’s 2024 Annual Trends Survey Report, 200+ US finance leaders from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) shared their experience using travel and expense management tools. The results may surprise you. In this article series, we’re breaking out the top insights we discovered about the evolving practices of expense management. First up, software adoption.

A Trend Emerges: Distribution Without Adoption

SMEs report that corporate card distribution has surged by 46%. The allure of efficiency, streamlined transactions, and financial agility are obvious. However, there’s been a mere 2% increase in software adoption to help manage the corporate card activity. This increase in usage without supporting software highlights an opportunity for businesses to vastly improve their expense management programs and processes.

The Case for Intelligent Card Programs

One of the biggest hidden struggles is the timing of corporate card statements, which often do not line up with the end of the month. Without connected software, finance teams must sometimes wait a week or two past the end of the month to get complete spending data. This prevents leadership from having big-picture financial data. It also slows the month-end close process.

Inefficiencies abound:

  • Employees lose time waiting, manage expense reports manually, and then navigate complicated credit card reconciliation processes. 
  • Valuable time that could be dedicated to innovation and strategic work is consumed by manual tasks that should be automated or eliminated altogether. 
  • Businesses without software miss out on the financial benefits of accurate, real-time employee expense data.

Survey respondents reported increased month-end-close processes compared to last year. This inefficiency leads to strained resources, lower productivity, and poor growth potential.

Opportunity: A Connected Solution for Spend

Adopting modern expense management software is essential. It empowers finance teams to deliver on strategic initiatives. The right software can transform manual reporting chaos into a streamlined, efficient, and transparent operation. It enhances productivity and minimizes errors.

For businesses thinking about a corporate card program, integrating the right expense management software is vital to harnessing its full potential. Look for a solution that can help your finance team by:

  1. Expediting time-consuming processes
    The average monthly close now requires 14 days—an increase from 2021. Your expense software should leverage automation to improve reporting speed and accuracy while improving agility for your employees.
  2. Delivering increased visibility
    Your business needs a real-time, holistic view of your company’s spend so you can refine budgets or strategies on-demand—not weeks or months after everything is reconciled.
  3. Improving the expensing experience for all employees
    Ease of use for card members, such as snapping photos of receipts and submitting them on the go, increases adoption. As for your finance team, the ability to manage spend from one platform makes their jobs that much easier.

Expanding card use signals your organization’s digital maturity and potential for even smarter spend management. You need expense management software that can propel your business forward. Our Corporate Card Evaluation Checklist can help you evaluate programs to choose the right one for your business. 

View Center’s 2024 Annual Trends Survey Report to explore more insights on the evolving practices of expense management.