An outsider not in the corporate finance world may have never heard of a purchase card (or “P-Card” for short.) Similar to a corporate credit card, P-Cards come with a lot of built-in tools that make them particularly beneficial to businesses.
With P-Cards, organizations are able to streamline the procure-to-pay process which allows them to procure goods and services in a timely manner, reduce transaction costs, track expenses, take advantage of supplier discounts, and much more. P-Card administrators can restrict usage to a certain dollar threshold or to a list of pre-approved merchants, which is why P-Cards are typically used for goods and services instead of travel.
Corporate or “travel” cards typically have less restrictions and function in much the same way as personal credit cards do. Usually corporate travel cardholders have to submit itemized expense reports (typically on a monthly basis) so card administrators know how the cards are being used and what is being spent.
With so much built-in oversight on the P-Card side, and administrators managing corporate travel programs, why even bother with additional audit and expense management tools?
Because things fall through the cracks. Every time.
Auditing expenses is an incredibly time intensive process. Most corporate offices have an internal audit team, but they usually work via a sample based audit looking at expenses over the entire year. This means many month-to-month expenses that may not be compliant with corporate policy can slip through the cracks.
Clever employees can easily outwit P-Cards that are restricted to certain merchants. And on a travel card, they can misclassify expenses, frequently buy just under the receipt limit, or add duplicates to their expense report. Only with a tool that can show you a cardholder’s behavior over time can you find these bad actors and put a stop to any potential abuse.
Any amount of spending leakage adds up over time. And with your full time staff being so busy with day-to-day tasks, an automated expense audit tool can alleviate some of that burden.