James Vear Nov 1, 2021 10:02:16 AM 8 min read

The Importance of Spend Management during the WFH Revolution

Over the last couple of years, most business staff have been forced to go remote and WFH. This was a necessity that we found ourselves in. But now that we are slowly on the other side of the worst of the pandemic, why are businesses and their staff not flocking back into offices around the world?

As many predicted, the WFH revolution is here to stay. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 41% of people with a job worked from home at least once a week. This is a huge increase compared to the pre-pandemic stats of only 24%.

A recruiter in Melbourne told me that “Every candidate looking for a new job said the most important thing to them in a new role is flexibility to work from home”. They said this has overtaken the more traditionally most important items such as money or future promotions. Candidates would rather forgo money in place of being able to WFH more regularly.

So, we know that people want the flexibility of remote work going forward, it will be an important part of company culture and the way they recruit talent. But how will this affect the way we spend money within the company?

Money is going to be tighter.

Initially, every digital business system that managed to survive will want to count every cent. Keeping staff was key, but with that comes sacrifice. That sacrifice comes in the form of large office spaces and other expensive employee overheads.

Automation is the start.

You will hear the word automation everywhere these days. Every spend management software claims to be able to automate expenses and save your business time and money (most of them can!). However, with money being tight, you will need to make decisions about what type of automation is most important to your business.

Traditionally, most would go down the staff expenses route, but this type of technology is not at the top of the list anymore. Expense management software lacks control as the money has already been spent when the automation kicks in.

Accounts Payable automation is going to be a key part of the WFH revolution. Purchasing with approved suppliers and having invoices captured and approved as quickly as possible will be of the greatest value to a business going forward.

Control is the next step.

Automating the finance process is one thing, but the next step is gaining control over how and what staff is purchasing. WFH has made this more important than ever!

Before the pandemic, it was much easier to keep control of what staff was purchasing. If a business had a solid process, they would have a list of suppliers that were approved and potentially have deals with those suppliers for better than the list price.

The first problem that the old process faces in the new world is that there are no central delivery sites anymore. Meaning deals on prices could become defunct and delivery charges may change drastically.

Without an online system in place, staff will revert to purchasing goods themselves and expensing them. This is where the business instantly loses control and will see budgets bulge quicker than usual.

Putting in a system that allows a business to control where and what employees spend their budgets on gives the greatest level of control seen yet.

Gaining purchasing insight to save money.

So, what if you have already made the smart decision to automate your purchasing and invoice process?

Most businesses are likely to have been purchasing repeat items from the same supplier for a long period of time. The price of those items may not have changed at all, so you think you are getting the best deal possible, but are you really?

Some switched on finance teams will go through a process of negotiating better deals for those items or even explore alternative brands and suppliers. This is a long process, however, and one that only a few larger businesses would have the time or resources to undertake.

This is when having all your data at line level, digitally, comes in handy. Using AI and BI, we can now analyze this data to find out where a business can save money on certain purchasing categories.

Using systems like Compleat’s P2P Automation can help move the businesses into being fully automated from start to finish but using the power of Digital Procurement we can give you substantial savings on purchasing that would never have been possible previously.

Ultimately, the working from home revolution has begun already. In my opinion, it has been coming for a long time. The pandemic has just accelerated the timeline.

Businesses that have limited resources and budgets need to take action into how they are going to gain control on spending and ultimately save money before it’s too late.

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James Vear

James joined Compleat's EMEA division in 2017 with experience in financial & payment software, having previously worked at Xero & PS Financials. He now heads up Compleat's APAC division in Melbourne, Australia.

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