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Corner Office: Spending Limits in Online Expense Report Software ? Take Two

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We wrote a post earlier this month about how online expense report software makes the setting and enforcement of spending limits easier.

We got a few offline comments from clients that overall what we wrote applies, but that there are some pitfalls to imposing spending limits that are not eased by the use of online report software’s like SutiExpense.

Here are three situations that we heard about which are worth keeping in mind when crafting a spending limit policy:

  1. Potential Embarrassment:? If an employee incurs an expense that is denied due to being over their assigned limit, the timing could be awful. Imagine the negative perception a customer would have if your employee’s card is denied when trying to pay for a nice dinner!
  2. Missed Opportunities:? Corporate cards are not used exclusively for customer events. At times, they are used to make purchases. If an employee has been charged with purchasing rights and is unable to make a time-sensitive purchase because their card is too close or over their limit, the price available at that moment may be missed. A time-sapping call to HQ to get the expense approved (not necessarily bad, some would say!), and have an administrator arrange a new credit limit on that employee’s card could delay the deal and lose the price quoted. This has apparently happened more than once, notably with large events like trade shows.
  3. Potentially Higher Travel Costs? When booking air travel, low fares come and go seemingly hourly (“only five seats remaining at this price!”) So, the quicker you can book a flight, the lower the cost could be. But if your system puts brakes on employee spending, you might have to wait to get your credit line increased and may end up paying more for the flight.

Tinkering with expense limits will teach you a lot over time, of course, and the data records you get with your expense report software’s analytics will accelerate that learning curve, but even with this enhanced expense visibility, you cannot anticipate every spending need going forward.

The key:

  • Educate your employees on where the limits lie, and train them to anticipate what could happen if they don’t monitor where they stand with their credit lines when they leave for a trip or start an event?
  • And set up a quick-response system when a spending limit has put an employee out on the front lines in a bind! That could be a 24/7 point of contact with the credit card company, and permission to text the boss with expense approval requests.

We encourage all our clients to make full use of the analytics that we offer to help them anticipate spending needs by event/time of year/type of travel. Forewarned is forearmed!

At SutiSoft, our goal is to make the business travelers meetings more successful, one expense “event” at a time!