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The Pluto blog

CFO Cornerstone: Navigating Finance's Complex Landscape

Stay informed with the latest insights on pioneering expense, procurement, and payables practices designed for today's modern finance teams.

Finance blog

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Corporate Cards
January 30, 2024

Mohammed Ridwan

How Corporate Fleet Cards Help Modern Transport & Logistic Businesses

Explore how fleet cards, an efficient alternative to generic corporate credit cards tailored for the transport sector, benefit drivers and logistics.

Companies use petty cash for managing driver and transport expenses, including maintenance, repairs, and small purchases, by allocating a small amount of physical cash to drivers. Drivers submit receipts for reconciliation, and they manually track these small transactions. 

However, tracking numerous trivial transactions becomes time-consuming, and discrepancies emerge during reconciliation. There's always a risk of misuse or theft, demanding strict security measures. Moreover, negotiating favorable terms with vendors for minor, recurring transactions becomes challenging. They must carefully budget and maintain a sufficient petty cash fund, which strains their overall cash flow.

Overall, the manual process raises efficiency concerns, necessitating a balance between control and practicality in managing day-to-day vehicle-related expenses.

A better alternative to petty cash is a fleet card. 

This post will explore corporate fleet cards, their benefits for transport and logistics, and strategies to overcome potential fuel card challenges for improved spend management.

What Is Meant by Fleet Card?

A fleet card, also known as a fuel or gas card, is a specialized payment card used by businesses to cover expenses related to their vehicle fleets. It is issued by fuel companies or financial institutions specifically for fuel purchases, maintenance, and other vehicle-related expenses.

What Can Fleet Cards Be Used For?

The fleet cards are primarily used for fuel purchases, maintenance, and repairs. They facilitate seamless payments for routine servicing, tolls and parking fees, and purchasing vehicle-related products.

You get cards with custom spending limits and advanced controls, such as real-time transaction monitoring mechanisms, category-specific restrictions, and automated alerts for enhanced security and streamlined expense management.

Drivers purchase fuel, maintenance, and other vehicle-related expenses at authorized locations with the cards, and you enjoy complete visibility on a centralized dashboard for each transaction.

What Are the Benefits of a Corporate Fleet Card?

Switching from manual petty cash management to a fleet card yields the following benefits:

  • Simplifies payment processes by reducing the complexity of cash handling

  • Improves tracking and monitoring of all vehicle-related expenses

  • Minimizes the risk of theft or misuse, providing enhanced security measures

  • Automates the expense management and reconciliation process, eliminating manual record-keeping and ensuring accuracy with reduced likelihood of errors

  • Promotes compliance by enabling you to set controls and restrictions on card usage according to company policies

  • Enhances budgeting by providing detailed reports and insights into the spending patterns for a structured and controlled approach to managing vehicle-related costs

  • Streamlines transactions with vendors, offering an efficient payment method for small, frequent transactions

Should I Use a Fuel Card or a Credit Card?

Fuel cards and credit cards share similarities in providing a convenient payment method for expenses. Both can be used at gas stations and offer detailed transaction records for monitoring expenditures. Moreover, both cards come with features such as spending controls, reporting tools, and rewards programs.

However, here are some differences between the two:

  • Fuel cards restrict card usage to fuel and maintenance-related purchases, providing greater control and limiting potential misuse.
  • Fuel cards come with fuel discounts or rewards programs at specific gas stations, providing potential cost savings that credit cards do not generally offer.
  • While credit cards provide transaction records, fuel cards offer more detailed reporting on vehicle-related expenses like fuel consumption, maintenance costs, and odometer tracking.
  • Fleet cards partner with fuel providers, service centers, and other vendors, allowing businesses to negotiate favorable terms and discounts for bulk purchases or regular transactions. For instance, a fleet card's partnership with a fuel station yields discounted fuel prices, facilitating substantial cost savings.

So, for transport and logistics businesses, corporate fleet cards offer specialized controls for fuel and maintenance, streamlined reporting, and potential fuel-related discounts.

What Are the Risks of Fuel Cards?

Fuel cards, tailored for fleet management, are designed to address the unique needs of companies in the transport and logistics sector. However, organizations face the following challenges when switching to corporate fleet fuel cards:

1. Gas Station Availability Issues

Fuel cards encounter challenges related to gas station availability that limit refueling options. As a result, drivers can not find suitable gas stations, leading to increased travel time and delays in delivery schedules.

3. Location-Dependent Acceptance

The acceptance of corporate fleet cards varies by location, leading to constraints and inconveniences for companies operating in areas where certain cards are not widely accepted.

Drivers will encounter difficulties during interstate routes if you offer a nationwide delivery service and the fleet card is only accepted at specific gas stations or regions. It complicates expense management and hinders the company's ability to streamline fuel-related transactions.

3. Management Complexity

The specialized design of fuel cards introduces an administrative burden when managed separately. For instance, a company using distinct fuel cards for different vehicles finds consolidating expenses difficult, leading to increased administrative efforts and potential operational inefficiencies.

As a result, administrators have a hard time reconciling statements, accurately tracking expenses, and ensuring compliance. This burden increases processing times and errors in financial reporting.

4. Reward Limitations

While crafted to suit industry needs, fuel cards encounter limitations in cashback offers. Consider a scenario where a company's preferred fuel card provides cashback benefits only at select stations, restricting potential cost savings for the entire fleet. 

Source

Why Should You Switch to Pluto Corporate Fleet Cards?

Pluto fleet cards don't restrict the use of cards at their discretion. Instead, they facilitate advanced controls and real-time visibility. From issuing budgeted fuel cards to creating vendor-specific cards, you can set rules that align with your company's needs and policies. Then, with each transaction, you track all fleet expenses from a single dashboard and get real-time data without manual effort.

Pluto's corporate fleet cards

So, you set cards and add controls, and you are good to go! Drivers can spend them at convenient gas stations while you enjoy complete visibility and control. Each transaction appears on the dashboard and notifies drivers to upload the receipt directly from WhatsApp. Once uploaded, you can approve the expense, and the data syncs with your accounting software to help you close your books ten times faster.

Here are the top six benefits of switching to Pluto corporate fleet cards:

1. Unrestricted Access Anywhere

Unlike traditional restrictions, Pluto corporate fleet cards liberate your drivers. There are no limitations on locations or specific fuel stations. Enjoy the convenience of using cards at the most budget-friendly and strategically located gas stations, repair shops, or truck stops that welcome Mastercard.

2. Easy Cashback

Pluto corporate fleet cards make cashback benefits straightforward. With up to 2% unlimited cashback on over 100+ currency spends, enjoy seamless cost savings without intricate conditions or restrictions.

3. Smart Budgeting

Smart budgeting with corporate fleet cards

Pluto fleet cards, functioning as debit cards, provide smart budgeting without blocking cash flow. Drivers can request limit increases in seconds, ensuring operational flexibility with swift approvals. This distinctive feature sets Pluto apart, seamlessly blending budget management and uninterrupted cash flow for efficient fleet operations.

4. Driver-Friendly Controls

Provide drivers with budgeted fuel cards and set spending rules. Real-time data and advanced controls give you complete transparency of fleet expenses, enabling strategic decision-making.

5. Grow With Ease

Whether you have hundreds or thousands of drivers, the streamlined process of issuing corporate fleet cards and setting controls remains hassle-free, supporting your scalability with ease.

6. Eliminate Fraud

Eliminate fraud using Pluto corporate fleet cards

Lock or freeze cards instantly from the Pluto app, ensuring proactive measures against fraud. Enable company policies to ensure in-policy transactions, eliminating the risk of unauthorized spending.

Enhance End-to-End Spend Management

Pluto eliminates the need for separate investments in corporate fleet cards, offering an all-in-one spend management solution. 

Pluto's comprehensive platform facilitates both corporate purchase cards and fleet cards, streamlining your financial operations. Enjoy the same benefits as traditional corporate fleet cards but with enhanced functionality, all within a unified platform. With Pluto, you get unparalleled efficiency in managing corporate expenses, ensuring a seamless and integrated approach to financial control. 

Transform your spend management today. Book a demo and discover how Pluto can optimize your financial processes and elevate your business operations.

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Spend Management
January 30, 2024

Mohammed Ridwan

How to Improve the Expense Reconciliation Process to Close Books Faster

For every expense, teams maintain extensive documents like purchase orders, goods received notes (GRN), invoices, etc. With each increasing expense, the finance team has to spend more and more time on spend management — maintaining these documents, syncing data across accounting systems, ensuring proper approval, categorizing accurately, etc.

This manual process is time-consuming and prone to errors like missing receipts, employee fraud, unrecorded expenses, data entry typos, etc.

As a result, teams have inconsistent data across company systems and spend more time fixing these issues than focusing on their core activities. So, when finance teams strive to improve budget allocations, streamline expense tracking, and enhance financial reporting, they find themselves dedicating substantial time to addressing discrepancies among different financial databases and systems.

This blog will cover improving the expense reconciliation process and replacing manual and old methods with an improved solution.

What is Expense Reconciliation?

Expense reconciliation is a process that matches the actual expenses with the corresponding book entries. It involves comparing two sets of financial records, such as bank statements, credit card statements, receipts, etc., to identify and rectify discrepancies between them.

So, for every expense, you have an entry at an external source and in the internal systems. You match them together to ensure the accuracy of financial reporting, compliance with accounting standards, and prevention of errors or fraud.

However, companies rely on outdated systems — entry-level accounting tools, spreadsheet-based solutions, or legacy ERPs, which cannot handle end-to-end reconciliation processes. These compel finance teams to spend valuable time on manual tasks like data entry and receipt management, hindering reconciliation efficiency and increasing the risk of errors in financial data. 

Hence, submitting and tracking expenses becomes cumbersome for employees, while finance teams face manual verification and reconciliation challenges. Managers struggle with delayed approvals, and the overall process becomes susceptible to errors, affecting accuracy and compliance.

How to Reconcile Expenses Faster

Invest in spend management software to reconcile expenses faster. With spend management software, you can track and monitor each transaction on a centralized platform in real time.

Expense reconciliation with Pluto

The automated process makes reconciliation simpler and faster by providing a single source of information and enabling advanced controls. You can create customizable approval workflows and specify spending rules to suit complex hierarchies and ensure compliance with company policies. 

Especially with Pluto, each expense triggers the approval workflow and notifies employees to upload the receipt through WhatsApp. The accounting system integration syncs data across the financial systems to provide a consistent and accurate database.

Here is how switching to Pluto helps you reconcile efficiently and close your books of accounts ten times faster:

1. Easy to Identify Discrepancies

Find expanse policy discrepancies

In a traditional manual reconciliation process, identifying discrepancies involves sifting through piles of paperwork or navigating complex spreadsheets.

With Pluto's automated system, this cumbersome task is simplified. The platform's alert system actively flags potential issues, promptly notifying users of duplicate receipts. It not only streamlines the identification of irregularities but also introduces a proactive layer of fraud prevention.

You can visualize and interact with discrepancies directly on the centralized platform, turning what used to be a tedious task into a more intuitive and efficient process.

2. Speed and Accuracy 

Automation, real-time tracking, receipt capture (via optical character recognition (OCR)), approval workflows, and robust controls accelerate reconciliation cycles on Pluto. 

You need not spend a minute on a manual redundant task. The platform captures and extracts invoices from emails and WhatsApp on a centralized platform. The trigger-based workflows ensure prompt approvals without any friction. Matching documents for three-way and four-way matching simplifies with all the documents on a single tool. 

Therefore, the inherent accuracy of financial data, coupled with efficient discrepancy identification, ensures speed and reliability in the reconciliation process. 

3. Real-Time Tracking and Visibility 

Expense reconciliation tracking

Unlike conventional tracking methods, Pluto offers real-time insights through its centralized dashboard. This furnishes internal teams with immediate visibility into transactions, guaranteeing proactive adherence to company policies.

The agility provided by real-time tracking enables timely data-driven decision-making based on the latest and most accurate data.

4. Better Data Sync for a True Picture

Integrate Pluto with your ERPs

Manual data entry is prone to errors and delays, leading to discrepancies in financial records. Pluto's seamless integration with major accounting systems like Xero, Zoho, QuickBooks, Netsuite, and Dynamics ensures that the financial data is up-to-date and aligns with the organization's accounting records. This synchronization eliminates the need for manual adjustments and corrections, providing a true and accurate picture of the organization's financial status.

5. Enhanced Controls Over Processes 

Expense workflow automation

Building intricate approval workflows is simplified with Pluto. You can set up approval processes using simple if-then rules without the need for complex coding. Devise custom workflows that align perfectly with your company policies, creating a seamless and controlled process.

6. Traceable Audit Trail

Pluto maintains a traceable audit trail of all financial transactions and activities. It provides a comprehensive record of changes made to financial data. From the initiation of a transaction to any subsequent modifications, the traceable audit trail ensures transparency and accountability. This trail helps you avoid fraud and trackback discrepancies without friction.

Also, you can lock transactions post-approval, which adds an additional layer of security and integrity, facilitating smoother audits.

7. Save Time and Money

Automating financial processes, including procurement, expenses, and payables, significantly reduces manual steps in reconciliation.

Pluto's ability to capture general ledger and tax codes from expenses automates data entry. It reduces the time spent on routine reconciliation tasks. This efficiency allows finance teams to allocate resources more strategically, focusing on higher-value initiatives rather than repetitive manual tasks.

Timely financial insights help finance teams support decision-making processes with precision and confidence, fostering a data-driven financial ecosystem.

Internal Controls Strengthen Expense Reconciliation

Expense reconciliation burdens finance teams with time-consuming manual efforts and the constant threat of challenges like duplicate receipts and policy violations. These complexities lead to prolonged reconciliation cycles, hindering financial efficiency.

However, the actual progress happens when you strengthen internal control over financial reporting (ICFR), which is the anchor for successful automation in finance.  

When you embrace ICFR strategically, it bolsters internal controls, protects against risks and fraud, and sets the stage for smooth automation. The impact goes beyond just easing manual work; it promotes precision, reliability, and transparency in financial workflows. 

In simple terms, ICFR mitigates risks tied to financial inaccuracies. Read how to improve your ICFR framework for enhanced reconciliation processes.

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Procurement
December 20, 2023

Vlad Falin

Procure-to-Pay Process: What it is, Benefits, and Steps Involved

The procure-to-pay process doesn’t mean the procurement process. It is a subset of procurement that integrates purchasing and accounts payable.

Traditionally, the procurement process is scattered across the business, and the procurement team needs help to gain visibility or control. The employees purchase from different vendors, the approval process is chaotic and delayed, the stakeholders are stuck in email threads to review the expenses, and the procurement team struggles to get an overview of the organization’s needs.

Procuring the best goods and services becomes problematic since the team is left with open information loops. As a result, it spends more time optimizing the procurement cost and improving the bottom line.

What is the Procure-to-Pay Process?

The procure-to-pay process streamlines the scattered procurement parts to combine purchases and payments. Instead of a process spread across different software, the procurement process shifts to a centralized platform.

The employees get a dedicated platform to raise purchase requests and obtain approvals. The platform notifies stakeholders, such as managers, legal teams, finance teams, IT teams, and other relevant decision-makers to review and approve the proposals. As a result, the procurement team seamlessly moves to the vendor evaluation and negotiation stage without worrying about approvals or delays. The finance team efficiently handles accounts payable since the purchase and payment process is integrated.

So, while earlier, the purchases were handled solely by the procurement team and payments solely by the finance teams, the procure-to-pay process gives both teams an overview of the process from start to finish. In this post, we will discuss how this procure-to-pay process helps you optimize your procurement function and improve your bottom line.

Why Do You Need a Procure-to-Pay Process?

The procure-to-pay process is not just for your finance team or procurement team. It helps the entire organization to gain resources efficiently. Here are eight ways that demonstrate how moving to a streamlined process benefits you:

1. Visibility

All the relevant stakeholders get visibility into the process and the status. Be it the employee, managers, finance team, legal team, IT team, or procurement team — each one can track the progress without delving into multiple email threads. Additionally, teams get insights that help procurement teams optimize costs with data-driven decision-making.

2. Compliance and Control

You can implement advanced controls, such as customized approval workflows and spending budgets, without micromanaging the teams. You can successfully enforce internal control over financial reporting without creating unnecessary team resentment. 

So, for instance, if any expenses or purchases beyond $50,000 require additional approval from the legal and IT team, you can easily configure those controls within the approval workflow.

3. Streamline Workflows

The traditional process demands the employees to go from one office to another or spend days on email and Slack conversations before the managers give the green signal. At times, approval of a critical stakeholder is missed, causing delays and disrupting the workflow.

With the procure-to-pay process, you can create custom workflows depending on the purchase category, department, amount, etc. This accelerates workflow, and all the relevant stakeholders get notified right away.

4. Centralized Management

The procure-to-pay process integrates purchases and payments to bring all the critical information on a single dashboard. As a result, any discrepancies in the procurement process are identified in minutes. The entire procedure accelerates the real-time visibility of each stage.

5. Reconciliation

A centralized management system makes collecting and storing documents easy; additionally, since it integrates purchases and payments, the information syncs across accounting systems and ERPs.

During the audit season, this becomes a blessing where the finance team doesn’t have to chase teams for complete records. Also, it becomes easier to store and lock all the transactions and share these records with external parties.

6. Risk Management

The procurement operation is prone to financial, operational, and reputational risks. With the procure-to-pay process, teams can efficiently manage the vendors, purchase requests, approvals, and payments on a centralized platform in real time. It reduces the risk of fraud, ensures policy compliance, and provides visibility into spending patterns without burdening any team.

7. Insights

You can easily see the inside out of your procurement process, whether you want to know how much the marketing team spends or which vendor costs you the most. It makes it more convenient to reduce procurement costs and optimize purchases to improve the bottom line. Also, as all the information is centralized, there are no gaps or missing loopholes, providing complete transparency of your expenses.

8. Invoice Management

The procure-to-pay process ensures that all the invoices are captured and extracted into a centralized platform. This facilitates two-way and three-way matching without causing delays. Moreover, the reconciliation process becomes easy as all the records are systematically recorded.

So, whether you receive an invoice via email, WhatsApp, or physical copy, you can easily add it to the system without risking losing an invoice.

What are the Stages in the Procure-to-Pay Process?

The traditional procurement process has over nine steps strewed across different platforms. These include identifying goods and services, purchase requests, vendor selection, negotiation, purchase orders, inspection of the goods received, three-way matching, approvals, and payment and reconciliation.

While the procure-to-pay process doesn’t alter these stages, it integrates them for a streamlined workflow. So, earlier, if the approvals took days or weeks, keeping employees and the procurement team on hold, now it only takes a few minutes or hours. You centralize the procurement process and save money and time.

Here are five key stages in the procure-to-pay process:

1. Purchase Request

Purchase Request

Employees no longer need to travel from one office to another, seeking approvals manually from managers. The streamlined procure-to-pay process gives employees a centralized dashboard to raise requests and specify their needs. It helps the procurement team to understand what the employee needs as well as examine the purchase details. Moreover, the stakeholders can quickly approve or reject the requests from the dedicated platform.

Administrators add customized approval flows to enforce internal policies. They create trigger-based approval workflows based on the expense amount, category, and department to accommodate intricate hierarchies.

For instance, they have the option to create separate workflows for expenses below $5000 and those exceeding a certain budget. Similarly, they can add specific stakeholders to the custom workflows for minimum friction and delay. 

2. Purchase Order

Purchase order

While the vendor evaluation, selection, and negotiation happen on dedicated ERPs, the procure-to-pay process enables you to bring all this information on a consolidated platform. You maintain a synced and consistent database to make purchases faster and more secure.

Pluto integrates with your ERPs and allows you to maintain a centralized vendor database. You can add the vendor directly to the platform and systematically record information. You can add a field in your approval workflow to determine whether the employees are purchasing from a vendor list or a new vendor.

A systematic list helps you consolidate expenses and optimize costs. Moreover, ordering becomes more accessible with a unified platform for raising and approving purchase requests and maintaining an ERP-synced vendor database.

3, Invoice Management

Invoice Management

Traditionally, vendors send invoices to a dedicated email or an address. The employees send them for approval and payment. It takes days to clear the expenses. Additionally, the accounting team spends considerable time and energy on maintaining records.

The procure-to-pay strategy reduces this effort and streamlines the procedure. It captures and extracts the invoice from the emails and attaches to a dedicated purchase request and order. This helps the teams match the purchase order, invoice and goods received note (GRN) without juggling multiple platforms.

It pulls all the information with optical character recognition (OCR) technology, reducing manual data entry. Since this platform syncs with the accounting system, the accounting team spends minimal time on data entry.

4. Payment Processing

Payment Processing

Processing payments becomes a task when the finance team has to chase employees for invoices and wait for approvals and verification. The procure-to-pay technique centralizes the entire process, giving real-time visibility and helping finance teams make timely payments. 

Moreover, with Pluto, you can integrate your procurement software with the payment gateways to ease the payment process further. Also, you get better Forex rates than banks, helping you save more money. Overall, with the approvals and invoices streamlined, payment processing becomes easy.

5. Reconciliation

Reconciliation

Reconciliation is the hardest part, even when you perform the data entry and data sync monthly. You risk losing documentation and creating gaps in the records.

The procure-to-pay process consolidates the entire procurement cycle to bring all the critical information on a single platform. There are minimal gaps; records are up-to-date due to real-time tracking and recording.

With Pluto, you can integrate with platforms like MS Dynamics, Oracle Netsuite, QuickBooks, etc. So, with your ERPs and accounting software synced, you can easily record all the transactions digitally and securely.

Pluto further enables you to lock the transactions to avoid fraud once approved. Moreover, you can create view-only access for your records to simplify auditing for external parties.

Improve Your Bottom Line With the Right Procure-To-Pay Solution

Overall, the procure-to-pay process helps you automate your procurement process without changing your approach too much. You just need to find the right solution that assists your procurement process. 

We discussed more about this in our procure-to-pay solutions post, where you will find what procure-to-pay software does and how to pick the right one.

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Updates
December 11, 2023

Vlad Falin

5 Strategies For Cost Reduction in Procurement To Improve Bottom Line

It’s challenging to always be on your toes, looking for ways to cut costs. Be it negotiation or automating manual, time-consuming processes, your main focus is always to optimize expenses and improve the bottom line. This comprises 36% of CPOs whose top priority is delivering bottom-line savings. 

Hence, in this post, we will discuss the top 5 procurement cost reduction strategies. We’ll also discuss the process of getting started and ways to improve the procure-to-pay process to ensure procurement cost savings

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5 Cost-Saving Strategies in Procurement

Here are the top 5 cost reduction techniques in procurement that you can implement in the short and long run:

1. Reduction in Maverick Spending

Reduction in Maverick Spending

Maverick spending refers to expenses beyond the established policy and procurement process. It involves unauthorized purchasing that is either not approved or doesn't adhere to the pre-approved vendors or negotiated contracts. 

Such expenses impact financial and operational efficiency, leading to budget overruns and supplier relationship strain. For instance, an employee purchases office supplies from a non-approved vendor. It can lead to higher costs due to a lack of negotiated discounts and impact the organization's ability to leverage consolidated spending for better terms and conditions.

To reduce maverick spending, you must actively communicate procurement policies to avoid such expenses. You must monitor all the transactions and address any such instances. This requires greater visibility into the spending at each stage and an analysis of how company resources are being used. You will also need to set spending controls based on the company policies to avoid constant monitoring. 

Purchase request flow

As a result, you gain better control over the procurement process, negotiate better contracts with preferred suppliers, and leverage volume discounts without disrupting the supply chain. This will help you maintain compliance with established procurement policies and save costs by avoiding unauthorized expenses. 

2. Contract Management

Contract management involves reassessing the existing contracts and negotiating supplier agreements. This includes negotiation, execution, and ongoing monitoring to ensure cost optimization.

Contract Management

To ensure strong contract management practices, regularly revisit contract terms, assess performance metrics, and proactively identify areas for improvement. Prioritize negotiation preparation by investing in training for procurement professionals, ensuring they possess the skills to secure favorable terms and adapt agreements to evolving business needs. 

Contract management aids in maximizing the value of agreements, minimizing risk, and ensuring that suppliers deliver as per the agreed terms. It also promotes better relationship management and identifies opportunities for cost optimization.

3. Request Specification

Request Specification

Request specification involves creating clear and detailed specifications for the goods or services that the organization intends to procure. This involves detailing purchase requests and understanding the needs of the teams to deliver what they need and not spend money on unnecessary features and misfit products. This helps ensure suppliers understand the exact requirements, leading to more accurate quotes and better value for money.

To ensure detailed request specifications, involve all the stakeholders in the approval process and get buy-in from each of them. Follow a standardized approval workflow to raise purchase requests. This ensures consistency and gets the maximum information possible. However, it is important to implement customized workflows to suit your business hierarchies.

hierarchies

This reduces the risk of feature overlap and better consolidates the purchases for negotiating more favorable deals. Moreover, the specificity of needs lowers the chances of cost overruns or disputes during the procurement process.

4. Spending Consolidation

Consolidating spending means automating procurement processes to achieve economies of scale. This includes consolidating purchases, standardizing suppliers, and leveraging bulk buying power. Doing so lets you negotiate better terms with suppliers, reduce administrative overhead, and achieve cost savings through volume discounts.

For instance, if you consolidate spending on packaging materials by sourcing from a single supplier, you negotiate bulk discounts, streamline procurement processes, and benefit from standardized materials. This approach reduces costs through economies of scale, simplifies logistics, and enhances overall operational efficiency.

Spending Consolidation

To consolidate spending, conduct a thorough spend analysis, identify opportunities for consolidation, and negotiate with suppliers for better terms. Additionally, implement procurement software to streamline procurement processes. This will give you insights into your spending behaviors and help you identify optimization opportunities. Also, create a cross-functional procurement team to promote collaboration and standardization across the organization. Moreover, ensure proper cross-functional workflows to get stakeholders involved at each stage. 

5. Vendor Diversity

Vendor Diversity

Vendor diversity involves engaging with various suppliers to reduce dependency on a single source. This strategy ensures increased competition, better negotiation opportunities, and improved risk management.

For instance, having vendor diversity enables you to source materials from multiple suppliers rather than relying solely on one. This creates competition among suppliers, encouraging competitive pricing and service levels to mitigate risks associated with potential disruptions from a single supplier. Hence, in the event of supply chain challenges or fluctuations, you get the flexibility to maintain production and minimize the impact on operations.

To ensure vendor diversity, adopt a global sourcing strategy and conduct thorough market research to identify potential suppliers across the globe with clear criteria for supplier selection. Additionally, actively seek partnerships with businesses that bring unique strengths to your supply chain. Moreover, it is important to also regularly reassess and diversify your supplier portfolio to ensure adaptability to changing market dynamics. Fostering open communication to build strong, collaborative relationships with various suppliers is a must

As a result, you get better pricing, quality, and innovation. It also provides a safety net if one supplier faces disruptions or fails to meet expectations.

Three-Step Process for Cost Reduction in Procurement

Before implementing these strategies, go through this strategic process each time you have to hunt down expenses for cost savings:

1. Analyze Spend

Analyze Spend

Start by conducting a comprehensive spending analysis to understand where the money goes. Use financial records, invoices, and procurement data to categorize and analyze spending patterns. In such cases, having procure-to-pay software helps a lot in getting insights and real-time visibility.

This step provides a clear overview of the organization's spending habits, allowing identification of areas for potential cost savings. It serves as a foundation for informed decision-making in subsequent cost-reduction strategies.

2. Identify the Biggest Expense

Compare across departments or suppliers to identify the largest expenses or categories and spot any unusual expenses. This step allows for targeted efforts in cost reduction.

Discuss these insights with relevant stakeholders to understand why these costs exist and their impact. Also, align the understanding of ‘savings’ with them to avoid unnecessary delays and rejections. It is advisable to align it with something measurable to make it easier to sell the business case and implement the necessary changes. 

For instance, the information technology (IT) department proposes investing in new software that, in the long run, promises increased efficiency and reduced maintenance costs. However, the finance team, focused on immediate budget constraints, may interpret ‘savings’ as strictly short-term cost reductions rather than considering long-term benefits. 

To align understanding, the IT team can quantify long-term savings through reduced downtime, improved productivity, and potential scalability benefits. This ensures both departments share a common definition of ‘savings’ and facilitates a collaborative decision-making process.

Additionally, you can target the smaller spend or tail-end spend as well. It is easier to cut people from making one-off purchases or buying small items on Amazon that another department may have. 

3. Conduct Market Research and Maintenance

Conduct market research to understand current pricing, trends, and available alternatives for the identified major expenses. Based on your research, you can optimize these expenses without impacting the supply chain. This includes incentives such as:

  • Use spending data analysis to negotiate improved terms with suppliers. Seek discounts or bundled services to reduce costs without disrupting the supply chain.
  • Research alternative suppliers or vendors for the identified major expenses. Assess their offerings, pricing, and reliability to diversify options and secure more cost-effective alternatives.
  • Invest in automation to optimize procurement processes, reducing administrative overhead without disrupting the supply chain.
  • Analyze inventory levels and adjust ordering practices based on demand forecasts to prevent overstocking or stockouts.
  • Regularly monitor the expenses and supplier performance and reassess strategies to adjust optimization efforts based on changing market conditions and organizational needs.

Keep updating this information to stay informed about changes in the market. This ensures that you are well-informed about competitive pricing and industry trends. Additionally, you get the necessary data to negotiate better terms with suppliers, explore cost-effective alternatives, and adapt to market fluctuations, contributing to more strategic and informed decision-making.

How to Ensure Maximum Procurement Cost Reduction

Most companies have procurement processes running on autopilot with standard operating procedures. However, this leads to inconsistent efforts of procurement teams in reducing costs. They have to dedicate hours to analysis and optimization, which can be changed with intentional efforts to ongoing cost savings practices in procurement. 

However, with traditional manual processes, getting real-time visibility and comprehensive insights is impossible. To streamline the process and consolidate the expenses, you must adopt tools that support your cost savings initiative. This means centralizing all the information to build a unified platform for complete visibility and control. 

Pluto simplifies this for you. Not only do you get insights and controls, but you can also create cross-functional workflows to facilitate the collaborative procurement process. You can integrate your entire accounting and accounts payable system onto a single platform and streamline the entire process. As a result, you get real-time visibility and can optimize expenses in time.  

Book a demo to know more about how Pluto fits into your business and helps you streamline your procurement process for collaborative cost-saving efforts.

5
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Procurement
December 11, 2023

Vlad Falin

Procurement Management: A Guide to the Basics of the Procurement Cycle

Picture handling hundreds of weekly purchase requests from different departments, each demanding new vendor searches. When you finally make purchases after going through the cycle of approvals and negotiations, you end up facing goods and invoice discrepancies. 

That’s a chaotic situation you certainly want to avoid. 

While procurement may seem like a simple purchase on paper, the process requires planning and structure for larger organizations. 

One way to avoid this chaos is through procurement management, which helps businesses streamline the acquisition and record-keeping process. This reduces overhead costs and helps you remain profitable.  

In this post, we will explore what is procurement management, outline the steps involved, and give tips to optimize your procurement cycle for an effective procurement management system. 

What is Procurement Management? 

Procurement management refers to the strategic acquisition of goods and services to meet the needs of an organization. It covers the entire goods procurement process from raising purchase requests to settling payments with vendors. This involves the procurement team’s planning, sourcing, negotiating, validating, and clearing payments to ensure a proper supply chain. 

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Steps Involved in the Procurement Management System

Steps Involved in the Procurement Management System

A standard procurement management process is intricate and involves several stakeholders. Here are the key steps:

  1. Needs Assessment: Identify internal requirements through meticulous forecasting.
  2. Vendor Selection and Database Establishment: Thoroughly vet vendors, creating a robust database for strategic partnerships.
  3. Negotiation of Terms: Engage in negotiations on pricing and delivery schedules to optimize resource utilization.
  4. Purchase Order Generation: Transform approved purchase requests into precise orders to minimize potential errors.
  5. Goods Receipt and Matching: Validate received goods against purchase orders (GRN matching) to ensure order accuracy and quality control.
  6. Invoice Approval and Payment Processing: Ensure accuracy before approving invoices and proceeding with payments.
  7. Record Maintenance for Auditing: Systematically document all transactions for transparent auditing, ensuring compliance and accountability.

Although the process looks simple, it has several loopholes. There are numerous steps involved, and the entire process becomes tricky to execute. These steps are scattered across multiple platforms, complicating reconciliation during the audit season.

Furthermore, it requires approvals at certain stages, making it unfavorable for larger teams with complex hierarchies. 

How to Optimize the Procurement Management System

You can overcome these challenges by automating your systems. 

Automation makes this lengthy and complex process a simple and efficient procurement cycle. The employees get a dedicated platform to raise requests. Furthermore, stakeholders can efficiently review and approve requests with automated notifications. 

Automation also simplifies GRN matching through the data stored in the software. Accounting and payment integrations help clear approved invoices within seconds. 

Throughout this process, you gain real-time visibility and control over expenses. Moreover, having all your information on a unified platform simplifies reconciliation and ensures a proper audit trail.

Here are five ways automating the procurement process helps your business:

1. Internal Control Over Financial Reporting (ICFR)

Automation ensures compliance with ICFR standards and upholds quality controls throughout the procurement process. It does this by using trigger-based approval workflows that follow predefined financial controls. It implements validation checks to ensure that procurement transactions meet quality control standards. This makes two-way and three-way matching seamless. 

By deploying a single software solution, you detect and prevent potential errors or discrepancies in financial reporting.

2. Documentation

Automation brings together purchase requests, purchase orders, receipts, and all the relevant conversations on a unified platform. This makes storing and retrieving information easier, especially during the audit season. Also, optical character recognition (OCR) technology simplifies extracting key information, eliminating the need for manual data entry. 

As a result, you improve document accuracy and prevent errors such as late or incorrect returns due to missing receipts, invoices, payables, and supporting documentation.

3. Integration

Automation software integrates with your accounting software, payment gateways, and ERPs bringing together the scattered pieces of procurement. 

It allows you to request, manage, match goods receipts, and pay vendors from a single place. The best part is that your data remains consistent across all your software making the lives of financial controllers easier.

4. Measure

Automation offers you real-time visibility through a custom dashboard. It gives you a holistic view of the procure-to-pay process with a centralized data repository. 

This makes it easier to extract insights and optimize the process to improve margins, such as average payables due, top vendors, department-wise expenses, etc.

5. Standardize Workflows

Automation helps you create standardized workflows to ensure consistency and efficiency. As a result, each stakeholder gets notified to complete their part. So, be it approving expenses or GRN matching, these set workflows eliminate the need to chase employees averting potential delays. 

Challenges of Automating the Procurement Cycle 

While automation does offer several benefits, choosing the right tool is crucial. One wrong decision and you might end up in one of the following situations:

  • You invest in a basic software that lacks functionality and doesn’t solve your procurement issues.
  • You choose a complex product that is difficult to understand and operate. 
  • You get a tool that doesn’t integrate with your existing accounting and payment software, increasing the manual task of syncing data across these systems. 
  • You get multiple products for different steps that lack integration, hindering efficient and streamlined procurement management. 

Automation becomes a nightmare with the wrong software. All these scenarios lead to resource wastage. Moreover, weeks and months spent on implementation disrupt the supply chain.

What a Good Automation Procurement Management System Looks Like

Here’s how a comprehensive automation platform makes your procurement process easy, functional, flexible, and scalable. 

1. Standardize Process

Standardize Process

You have a centralized platform to consolidate the scattered procurement process. Whether purchase requests, approval workflows, or recurring SaaS payments, it allows you to automate as many procurement elements as you want. 

It lets you digitize the entire process without compromising your current workflows. This boosts transparency and provides better control over your expenses. 

2. Streamline Approvals

Streamline Approvals

You get a no-code trigger-based approval workflow engine that helps you set exact approval hierarchies to get approvals without disruptions.

For example, you can add if-then rules and set a precise and intricate workflow. Thus, when an employee raises a purchase request, instead of chasing stakeholders, this system notifies them to review and approve the requests. 

Additionally, all queries or clarifications unfold within the procurement software, ensuring comprehensive documentation and visibility. This eliminates maverick spending and fosters an accountable procurement process. 

3. Vendor Management 

Vendor Management 

You can sync all your vendors to your accounting software and ERPs. This creates vendor consistency across platforms, accelerating the purchase order creation. You also get the ability to add the list of items and simplify the purchase order and GRN matching process.

4. Receipt Management 

Receipt Management 

You get a dedicated dashboard to manage all your receipts. The software captures invoices from emails and WhatsApp and uses OCR technology to extract key information. This streamlines GRN matching as all vendor, purchase order, and invoice details are in one place. 

Pluto's procure-to-pay module is an excellent example of this centralization. It accelerates reconciliation with GL codes and tax codes, enhancing finance teams' visibility and control over purchase order spending.

5. Centralize Documentation

Centralize Documentation

You have a unified information source as the software integrates with your accounting and payment software and your ERP. Hence, it becomes easy to store and maintain data while maintaining consistency across. 

For instance, Pluto offers you a wide range of integrations, such as NetSuite, Xero, QuickBooks, Zoho, etc., so that you focus on procuring goods and get complete documentation with accuracy. 

6. Detailed Reports 

Report

You get comprehensive reports, making it easier to extract insights and make data-driven decisions. Also, as all the information is stored within the software, there are no gaps or loss of context. You get an accurate picture of your procurement process. This allows for strategic planning and forecasting. 

For instance, with Pluto, you get insights, such as average time for approvals, average payables due, top vendors, department-wise spending, location-wise spending, etc. 

7. Audit Trails

Audit Trails

Since there’s a unified platform to maintain thousands of receipts, you get complete visibility into each order from purchase requests to stakeholders involved and order status. This audit trail becomes a blessing during the audit season when you need less than 30 seconds to retrieve a specific receipt or document.  

There’s More to Procurement Management than Automation

Procurement management is not just about automation. While it does enhance the three core components of procurement—people, process, and paperwork, procurement management requires more than the adoption of software. 

Pluto aims not just to automate your processes but also to support your existing workflows. Then, be it purchase requests, accounts payable, or accounting, it strives to improve your processes by removing all the bottlenecks that cause chaos.  

Know more about how we can help your business. Book a demo and we’ll see you across to maximize the efficiency of your procurement process.

5
All
Updates
December 7, 2023

Mohammed Ridwan

Pluto Wins Big at the MENA Fintech Awards

The MENA Fintech Awards, a prestigious event within the financial technology industry, recently celebrated the most innovative and impactful solutions in the sector. 

We at Pluto are thrilled to announce that our company has been honoured with the 'Best Corporate Solution' award! This recognition is a testament to our team's hard work, dedication, and innovative approach in the fintech space.

Our co-founders, having spent a considerable part of their lives in the UAE. Working within the fintech sector, identified a significant gap in the region's finance sector. They observed that the tools, platforms, and software available to CFOs and finance teams were not only outdated but also overly complex, hindering efficient financial management.

With Pluto, they embarked on a mission to develop a software solution that would change how mid to enterprise level businesses handled their finances. 

The MENA Fintech Awards, organised in collaboration with the MENA Fintech Association, are designed to recognize excellence and innovation in financial technology. These awards are a highlight of the Abu Dhabi Finance Week (ADFinanceWeek), an event that fosters innovation and growth in the fintech sector. The 'Best Corporate Solution' category, in which we were victorious, emphasises practical, innovative solutions that address significant corporate financial challenges.

Our award-winning solution, the Pluto Card, addresses various corporate financial management needs. It offers features like employee reimbursements, petty cash management, and an efficient account payable cycle, along with robust accounting integrations. 

Winning the 'Best Corporate Solution' award at the MENA Fintech Awards is not just an honor but also a motivation for our future endeavours. We are excited about our upcoming initiatives, which include further enhancements to the Pluto Card and expanding our market reach to serve more businesses globally.

We extend our deepest gratitude to the organisers of the MENA Fintech Awards and ADFinanceWeek, the judges for recognizing our efforts, and most importantly, our dedicated team and loyal customers. Your support and trust in our solution have been invaluable!

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Procurement
December 6, 2023

Vlad Falin

Procurement Automation: Top 4 Procurement Process to Automate in 2024

The standard procurement process is tiresome and confusing. 

You have multiple purchase requests from multiple departments. You wait weeks for approvals, and then a few more, before you can vet and negotiate with vendors. Finally, when the goods are delivered, you must assess their quality and ensure you got what you had ordered. 

All this is done with constant pressure to speed up the process and ensure procurement cost savings. It is not scalable, and it has many loopholes. Eventually, you end up with supply chain bottlenecks, increasing procurement costs. 

Such a chaotic process impacts all three core components of procurement—people, process, and paperwork. Goods are delayed, processes are tiresome, and paperwork is incomplete and scattered.

But, with automation in place, you can centralize the entire supply chain and get more visibility and control. Employees will have a dedicated platform for raising requests, the process will be streamlined, and paperwork will be consolidated on a unified dashboard. 

In this post, we will cover how you can automate your procurement process without impacting your supply chain because any mismanagement directly translates into a broken supply chain. 

See a Demo

What is Automation in Procurement?

Procurement automation is the process of adopting software to digitize and centralize your procurement process. Instead of relying on forms for purchase requests, emails/Slacks for approvals, or accounting software for accounts payable, you move your procurement process onto a single platform that automates all these processes. 

procurement automation with Pluto

You just have to set the policy and workflows, and the software manages the chaotic parts while adhering to company policies. And since these software integrate with your existing accounting software and ERPs, you need not change your procurement process much. You can choose which elements you want to automate and get the flexibility to adapt to your business needs. 

Top 4 Procurement Processes to Automate

1. Purchase Requests

Purchase requests involve employees raising requests for the purchase of goods or services. They specify the goods required, and the procurement team ensures that all stakeholders give their approvals to the requests. The larger the expense, the more stakeholders involved. Plus, this becomes complex for larger firms when there are intricate hierarchies. 

By automating this process, all the requests are consolidated and the approval process is accelerated. For instance, Pluto facilitates trigger-based custom approval workflows to notify stakeholders and get approvals without disruptions. This ensures compliance with procurement policies and complete visibility into spending. 

2. Purchase Orders

Purchase orders involve creating and approving legal documents that outline the details of a purchase, including quantity, price, and delivery terms. However, this process becomes chaotic when vendor lists are scattered across platforms and you don't have proper systems for consolidating all purchase requests and orders.

Automate PO for procurement automation

Automating purchase orders consolidates all the purchase orders in a single platform. It enables multiple functions, such as converting purchase requests into purchase orders as soon as they get approved, maintaining a preferred vendors list, offering punchout systems to create purchase orders faster, etc. As a result, you enhance the accuracy of the purchase order and improve supplier management. 

3. Goods Received Note (GRN) Matching

GRN matching involves verifying that the goods received match the details specified in the purchase order and confirming their acceptance. Any mismanagement at this stage negatively impacts inventory, leaving you with poor quality or unnecessary goods. Moreover, doing this manually takes time and leaves room for errors.

Automate goods received notes in procurement

Automating GRN matching consolidates purchase orders and bills on a single platform for easy two-way and three-way matching. 

For instance, Pluto captures the receipts and matches them to the purchase orders for accuracy, expediting the reconciliation process. You get complete visibility into the products that don’t match the purchase order. As a result, the verification process fastens with minimal discrepancies.

4. Accounts payable

Accounts payable involves managing and paying invoices for goods and services received, ensuring timely and accurate financial transactions. Manually, this process takes weeks before the invoice gets approved. In other cases, teams end up paying the invoice twice, leading to the issue of double payments. In the end, procurement teams lose visibility into where the money is going, making cost optimization difficult. 

Accounts payable automation

Automating accounts payable streamlines invoice processing to reduce errors and enhance overall financial efficiency. For instance, Pluto integrates with your accounting software and payment gateways to automate payments. As soon as the invoices are approved, you get a dedicated dashboard for awaiting payments. With a single click, you make payments while ensuring data consolidation without any delays.

Top 3 Challenges in Procurement Automation 

While procurement automation can enhance your procurement process, here are some challenges that need your attention:

1. Resistance

Employees resist adopting automated processes due to fear of job displacement or reluctance to change established workflows. This happens because they don't understand the real benefits of technology and how it can assist them in their jobs. As a result, the adoption process slows down, hinders efficiency, and leads to a lack of cooperation from key stakeholders.

To overcome this, provide training and education on the benefits of procurement automation. Involve employees in decision-making and showcase successful case studies to alleviate concerns. This will set clear expectations and also help specify the requirements of the software. 

2. Implementation Cost

The upfront costs associated with implementing automation tools and systems for procurement processes are substantial. This includes costs from purchasing software and hardware and the expenses associated with system integration, training, and potential disruptions during implementation. Thus, it becomes difficult to get stakeholders on board and get approval despite long-term benefits.

To overcome this, conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis and share the results with stakeholders. Discuss the operational efficiency of procurement automation and consider phased implementation to spread costs. Also, explore scalable solutions, so you don't have to keep reassessing and re-investing in the automation solution.

3. Security 

Security concerns about the privacy of sensitive procurement data arise with adopting automated systems, especially due to large amounts of vendor, payment, and employee data. This makes it susceptible to cybersecurity threats, raising concerns regarding data breaches or unauthorized access.

To overcome this, look for certified software ensuring data protection regulations compliance. For instance, Pluto is PCI DSS Level 1 certified, which is bank-grade security. You can also conduct regular audits and encrypt sensitive information for added protection.

Automate Procurement Process With Pluto

You can tackle these procurement automation challenges and others, too, such as flexibility, technical issues, and supply chain complexity, by choosing the right automation partner. A solution that caters to your need to provide visibility, control, flexibility, and ease without disrupting your supply chain. 

Here are some ways that Pluto can support your procurement automation to streamline the 3Ps of a procure to pay software—people, process, and paperwork::

1. Approval Workflows

You get a no-code trigger-based approval workflow engine that helps you set exact approval hierarchies to get approvals without any disruptions. You add if-then rules and set a precise and intricate workflow. 

Thus, when an employee raises a purchase request, instead of chasing stakeholders, this system notifies all of them to review and approve the requests. Also, if queries and any clarification are required, all the conversation takes place in Pluto itself, giving you complete documentation and visibility. 

2. Vendor Management 

You get a unified platform to consolidate all your vendors with integrations to your accounting software and ERPs. You can sync and manage all the vendors for faster purchase order creation. You can add the list of items and simplify the purchase order and GRN matching process.

3. Receipt Management 

You get a dedicated dashboard to manage all your receipts. Pluto captures the invoices from emails and WhatsApp and uses optical character recognition (OCR) technology to extract key information. As a result, GRN matching becomes easy as you have all the vendor, purchase order, and invoice details in one place. Also, with all the details consolidated, you accelerate the reconciliation process by documenting all the key information on a single platform. 

4. Payment Processing

You get direct integrations with your accounting software and payment gateways, making payment processing easy. Since Pluto already supports the approval process and GRN matching, you don’t end up paying for faulty goods. Also, you get all the information on a single platform with its current status and other key information, so you avoid double payments. 

5. Reconciliation

You close books 10X faster with Pluto. With OCR technology, you need not manually add general ledger and tax codes. And since all the accounting software is synced, the information remains consistent throughout the system, making reconciling easier. Also, if any discrepancies arise, you have complete visibility into each AED you spend with Pluto.

Simplify Procurement Automation

Your procurement team doesn’t need multiple procurement automation software for each process. You will end up with multiple platforms, struggling to integrate them, and spending hours trying to work the pieces together instead of getting flexibility. 

Pluto streamlines the process while facilitating integrations with your existing accounting software, ERPs, and payment gateways. You get a layer of automation that sits on top of current processes to meet your needs. Hence, you get a solution that fixes all the loopholes instead of disrupting your current processes. 

We explored the top 6 procurement software solutions for modern businesses on our blog, and recommend checking the options and picking one that offers functionality without disrupting your workflow. 

Product updates

5
All
Updates
December 11, 2023

Vlad Falin

5 Strategies For Cost Reduction in Procurement To Improve Bottom Line

It’s challenging to always be on your toes, looking for ways to cut costs. Be it negotiation or automating manual, time-consuming processes, your main focus is always to optimize expenses and improve the bottom line. This comprises 36% of CPOs whose top priority is delivering bottom-line savings. 

Hence, in this post, we will discuss the top 5 procurement cost reduction strategies. We’ll also discuss the process of getting started and ways to improve the procure-to-pay process to ensure procurement cost savings

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5 Cost-Saving Strategies in Procurement

Here are the top 5 cost reduction techniques in procurement that you can implement in the short and long run:

1. Reduction in Maverick Spending

Reduction in Maverick Spending

Maverick spending refers to expenses beyond the established policy and procurement process. It involves unauthorized purchasing that is either not approved or doesn't adhere to the pre-approved vendors or negotiated contracts. 

Such expenses impact financial and operational efficiency, leading to budget overruns and supplier relationship strain. For instance, an employee purchases office supplies from a non-approved vendor. It can lead to higher costs due to a lack of negotiated discounts and impact the organization's ability to leverage consolidated spending for better terms and conditions.

To reduce maverick spending, you must actively communicate procurement policies to avoid such expenses. You must monitor all the transactions and address any such instances. This requires greater visibility into the spending at each stage and an analysis of how company resources are being used. You will also need to set spending controls based on the company policies to avoid constant monitoring. 

Purchase request flow

As a result, you gain better control over the procurement process, negotiate better contracts with preferred suppliers, and leverage volume discounts without disrupting the supply chain. This will help you maintain compliance with established procurement policies and save costs by avoiding unauthorized expenses. 

2. Contract Management

Contract management involves reassessing the existing contracts and negotiating supplier agreements. This includes negotiation, execution, and ongoing monitoring to ensure cost optimization.

Contract Management

To ensure strong contract management practices, regularly revisit contract terms, assess performance metrics, and proactively identify areas for improvement. Prioritize negotiation preparation by investing in training for procurement professionals, ensuring they possess the skills to secure favorable terms and adapt agreements to evolving business needs. 

Contract management aids in maximizing the value of agreements, minimizing risk, and ensuring that suppliers deliver as per the agreed terms. It also promotes better relationship management and identifies opportunities for cost optimization.

3. Request Specification

Request Specification

Request specification involves creating clear and detailed specifications for the goods or services that the organization intends to procure. This involves detailing purchase requests and understanding the needs of the teams to deliver what they need and not spend money on unnecessary features and misfit products. This helps ensure suppliers understand the exact requirements, leading to more accurate quotes and better value for money.

To ensure detailed request specifications, involve all the stakeholders in the approval process and get buy-in from each of them. Follow a standardized approval workflow to raise purchase requests. This ensures consistency and gets the maximum information possible. However, it is important to implement customized workflows to suit your business hierarchies.

hierarchies

This reduces the risk of feature overlap and better consolidates the purchases for negotiating more favorable deals. Moreover, the specificity of needs lowers the chances of cost overruns or disputes during the procurement process.

4. Spending Consolidation

Consolidating spending means automating procurement processes to achieve economies of scale. This includes consolidating purchases, standardizing suppliers, and leveraging bulk buying power. Doing so lets you negotiate better terms with suppliers, reduce administrative overhead, and achieve cost savings through volume discounts.

For instance, if you consolidate spending on packaging materials by sourcing from a single supplier, you negotiate bulk discounts, streamline procurement processes, and benefit from standardized materials. This approach reduces costs through economies of scale, simplifies logistics, and enhances overall operational efficiency.

Spending Consolidation

To consolidate spending, conduct a thorough spend analysis, identify opportunities for consolidation, and negotiate with suppliers for better terms. Additionally, implement procurement software to streamline procurement processes. This will give you insights into your spending behaviors and help you identify optimization opportunities. Also, create a cross-functional procurement team to promote collaboration and standardization across the organization. Moreover, ensure proper cross-functional workflows to get stakeholders involved at each stage. 

5. Vendor Diversity

Vendor Diversity

Vendor diversity involves engaging with various suppliers to reduce dependency on a single source. This strategy ensures increased competition, better negotiation opportunities, and improved risk management.

For instance, having vendor diversity enables you to source materials from multiple suppliers rather than relying solely on one. This creates competition among suppliers, encouraging competitive pricing and service levels to mitigate risks associated with potential disruptions from a single supplier. Hence, in the event of supply chain challenges or fluctuations, you get the flexibility to maintain production and minimize the impact on operations.

To ensure vendor diversity, adopt a global sourcing strategy and conduct thorough market research to identify potential suppliers across the globe with clear criteria for supplier selection. Additionally, actively seek partnerships with businesses that bring unique strengths to your supply chain. Moreover, it is important to also regularly reassess and diversify your supplier portfolio to ensure adaptability to changing market dynamics. Fostering open communication to build strong, collaborative relationships with various suppliers is a must

As a result, you get better pricing, quality, and innovation. It also provides a safety net if one supplier faces disruptions or fails to meet expectations.

Three-Step Process for Cost Reduction in Procurement

Before implementing these strategies, go through this strategic process each time you have to hunt down expenses for cost savings:

1. Analyze Spend

Analyze Spend

Start by conducting a comprehensive spending analysis to understand where the money goes. Use financial records, invoices, and procurement data to categorize and analyze spending patterns. In such cases, having procure-to-pay software helps a lot in getting insights and real-time visibility.

This step provides a clear overview of the organization's spending habits, allowing identification of areas for potential cost savings. It serves as a foundation for informed decision-making in subsequent cost-reduction strategies.

2. Identify the Biggest Expense

Compare across departments or suppliers to identify the largest expenses or categories and spot any unusual expenses. This step allows for targeted efforts in cost reduction.

Discuss these insights with relevant stakeholders to understand why these costs exist and their impact. Also, align the understanding of ‘savings’ with them to avoid unnecessary delays and rejections. It is advisable to align it with something measurable to make it easier to sell the business case and implement the necessary changes. 

For instance, the information technology (IT) department proposes investing in new software that, in the long run, promises increased efficiency and reduced maintenance costs. However, the finance team, focused on immediate budget constraints, may interpret ‘savings’ as strictly short-term cost reductions rather than considering long-term benefits. 

To align understanding, the IT team can quantify long-term savings through reduced downtime, improved productivity, and potential scalability benefits. This ensures both departments share a common definition of ‘savings’ and facilitates a collaborative decision-making process.

Additionally, you can target the smaller spend or tail-end spend as well. It is easier to cut people from making one-off purchases or buying small items on Amazon that another department may have. 

3. Conduct Market Research and Maintenance

Conduct market research to understand current pricing, trends, and available alternatives for the identified major expenses. Based on your research, you can optimize these expenses without impacting the supply chain. This includes incentives such as:

  • Use spending data analysis to negotiate improved terms with suppliers. Seek discounts or bundled services to reduce costs without disrupting the supply chain.
  • Research alternative suppliers or vendors for the identified major expenses. Assess their offerings, pricing, and reliability to diversify options and secure more cost-effective alternatives.
  • Invest in automation to optimize procurement processes, reducing administrative overhead without disrupting the supply chain.
  • Analyze inventory levels and adjust ordering practices based on demand forecasts to prevent overstocking or stockouts.
  • Regularly monitor the expenses and supplier performance and reassess strategies to adjust optimization efforts based on changing market conditions and organizational needs.

Keep updating this information to stay informed about changes in the market. This ensures that you are well-informed about competitive pricing and industry trends. Additionally, you get the necessary data to negotiate better terms with suppliers, explore cost-effective alternatives, and adapt to market fluctuations, contributing to more strategic and informed decision-making.

How to Ensure Maximum Procurement Cost Reduction

Most companies have procurement processes running on autopilot with standard operating procedures. However, this leads to inconsistent efforts of procurement teams in reducing costs. They have to dedicate hours to analysis and optimization, which can be changed with intentional efforts to ongoing cost savings practices in procurement. 

However, with traditional manual processes, getting real-time visibility and comprehensive insights is impossible. To streamline the process and consolidate the expenses, you must adopt tools that support your cost savings initiative. This means centralizing all the information to build a unified platform for complete visibility and control. 

Pluto simplifies this for you. Not only do you get insights and controls, but you can also create cross-functional workflows to facilitate the collaborative procurement process. You can integrate your entire accounting and accounts payable system onto a single platform and streamline the entire process. As a result, you get real-time visibility and can optimize expenses in time.  

Book a demo to know more about how Pluto fits into your business and helps you streamline your procurement process for collaborative cost-saving efforts.

5
All
Updates
December 7, 2023

Mohammed Ridwan

Pluto Wins Big at the MENA Fintech Awards

The MENA Fintech Awards, a prestigious event within the financial technology industry, recently celebrated the most innovative and impactful solutions in the sector. 

We at Pluto are thrilled to announce that our company has been honoured with the 'Best Corporate Solution' award! This recognition is a testament to our team's hard work, dedication, and innovative approach in the fintech space.

Our co-founders, having spent a considerable part of their lives in the UAE. Working within the fintech sector, identified a significant gap in the region's finance sector. They observed that the tools, platforms, and software available to CFOs and finance teams were not only outdated but also overly complex, hindering efficient financial management.

With Pluto, they embarked on a mission to develop a software solution that would change how mid to enterprise level businesses handled their finances. 

The MENA Fintech Awards, organised in collaboration with the MENA Fintech Association, are designed to recognize excellence and innovation in financial technology. These awards are a highlight of the Abu Dhabi Finance Week (ADFinanceWeek), an event that fosters innovation and growth in the fintech sector. The 'Best Corporate Solution' category, in which we were victorious, emphasises practical, innovative solutions that address significant corporate financial challenges.

Our award-winning solution, the Pluto Card, addresses various corporate financial management needs. It offers features like employee reimbursements, petty cash management, and an efficient account payable cycle, along with robust accounting integrations. 

Winning the 'Best Corporate Solution' award at the MENA Fintech Awards is not just an honor but also a motivation for our future endeavours. We are excited about our upcoming initiatives, which include further enhancements to the Pluto Card and expanding our market reach to serve more businesses globally.

We extend our deepest gratitude to the organisers of the MENA Fintech Awards and ADFinanceWeek, the judges for recognizing our efforts, and most importantly, our dedicated team and loyal customers. Your support and trust in our solution have been invaluable!

5
All
Updates
March 23, 2023

Leen Shami

New

Ramadan Benefits in the Workplace: A Guide to the UAE and MENA Region

The month of Ramadan provides HR Managers with the opportunity to take the initiative in their organization and implement a benefit program for employees and to remind them to support their Muslim colleagues during this holy month.

What are the benefits of implementing a Ramadan employee benefits program?

Employees who observe Ramadan may require special considerations in order to maintain a high level of performance.

The main goal of any corporate environment is to get the best possible results, but this can only be achieved if your team is given a supportive environment.

During Ramadan, HR managers and employers should consider implementing employee benefits programs to ensure that their employees are able to fulfill their religious commitments while feeling supported by their companies.  

By doing so, you will help ensure that every member of your team has access to the resources they need to be productive and successful.

Employee benefits program

Flexible working hours

Allow employees to come in late or leave early during Ramadan, modify their hours so they can work when they feel the most energized,and be able to take part in religious activities such as prayers while still being productive at work.

Remote or hybrid work

Remote or hybrid work can provide employees with more flexibility and autonomy to manage their work and religious obligations during Ramadan, allowing them to maintain their productivity and well-being while observing the holy month's spiritual practices.

Set up dedicated prayer spaces

Having dedicated prayer spaces can help employees maintain their spiritual practices during the workday. This is particularly important during Ramadan when employees may need to perform their daily prayers. Providing these spaces can make it easier for employees to observe their religious obligations without having to leave the workplace or worry about finding a suitable location to pray.

Accommodate dietary needs

Provide employees with food options that meets all dietary needs, so they can break their fast at the office if needed.

Examples of foods that are commonly used to break the fast:

  • Dates
  • Dried fruits
  • Ayran (yogurt drink)
  • Soups
  • Sambusak ( pastry filled with cheese or meat)

Inclusivity

 Promote open dialogue between employees of different faiths to foster an inclusive workplace environment. Consider arranging a presentation for those who would like to learn more about Ramadan and Islam.

Gift and Bonus Programs

Corporate gift and bonus programs during Ramadan can take many forms, but the underlying purpose is to show appreciation to employees for their efforts and to strengthen the relationship between the employer and employees.

Here are some common examples of corporate gift and bonus programs during Ramadan:

Eid al-Fitr bonus

It could be an additional incentive where employers give their employees an additional payment or bonus at the end of Ramadan to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the month of fasting.

Corporate gifts

Companies may offer gifts such as food hampers, prayer mats, and other religious items to their employees during Ramadan as a way to show appreciation and respect for their faith.

You could also delight your employees with a gift that they can use to enjoy dinner with their families. One way of doing this is by issuing Pluto corporate cards for your employees with an allocated budget on them. For e.g., you can issue a your employee a Pluto corporate card with a 500 AED spend limit to be used a restaurant of their choice.

Charitable donations

Some companies may choose to make charitable donations on behalf of their employees during Ramadan as a way to give back to the community and show solidarity with those in need.

You can add on to that by giving your employees the opportunity to pick what charity they would like the company to donate to.

It's worth noting that corporate gift and bonus programs during Ramadan should not be seen as an obligation or a substitute for fair compensation and benefits throughout the year. Rather, they are a way to show appreciation and strengthen the relationship between employer and employees.

Iftar and Suhoor Programs

Iftar and Suhoor are the two main meals that Muslims consume during Ramadan. 

Iftar is the meal that is eaten after breaking the fast at sunset, while suhoor is the pre-dawn meal that is eaten before the fast begins.

These meals have significant cultural and religious importance, and hosting iftar and suhoor programs can provide a sense of community and inclusivity in the workplace during Ramadan.

Importance of iftar and suhoor programs

Iftar and suhoor programs provide the opportunity for employees to come together and share in the spiritual significance of Ramadan.

These types of activities are also beneficial for team building, as they create an atmosphere of camaraderie among colleagues and foster a stronger work culture.

Its importance can be categorized into three main points:

  1. Connection: Sharing a meal with colleagues can help to strengthen connections and build relationships, fostering a sense of community in the workplace.
  2. Cultural awareness: Hosting iftar and suhoor programs can provide an opportunity for employees of different backgrounds and faiths to learn about Ramadan and its traditions.
  3. Appreciation: Providing meals for employees during these times shows that the company values and appreciates its employees and their religious beliefs.

Examples of iftar and suhoor programs for employees and how to host one:

  • Potluck iftar: Organize a potluck iftar at the office, where employees bring their favorite dish to share with their colleagues.
  • Company-sponsored iftar: Host an iftar event at a restaurant,  where the company provides food and drinks for employees to break their fast [see list of recommended restaurants below].
  • Virtual iftar: For remote workers or those who cannot attend in person, host a virtual iftar.
  • Charity iftar: Host an iftar event where a portion of the proceeds goes to a charity or non-profit organization. (Please make sure you are in line with UAE charity regulations before doing so. Learn more here)
  • Catered iftar: Hire a catering company to provide a full meal for employees to break their fast [see list of recommended catering companies below].
  • Suhoor breakfast: Host a breakfast event before the start of the workday for employees who are fasting.
  • Iftar meal delivery: Deliver meals to employees who are working late or unable to attend the in-person event.
  • Ramadan decorations: Decorate the workplace with Ramadan-themed decorations to create a festive atmosphere.
  • Ramadan trivia: Host a trivia game related to Ramadan and its traditions during the iftar or suhoor event.
  • Ramadan volunteer day: Organize a volunteer day where employees can give back to the community during the month of Ramadan.

Prayer programs

Observing taraweeh and Laylat al-Qadr during Ramadan helps Muslims to deepen their faith and spirituality, and it provides an opportunity to reflect on their actions and intentions throughout the year.

An employee prayer program during Ramadan can have numerous benefits for companies and their employees, including promoting diversity and inclusion, improving morale and relationships, and fulfilling social responsibility.

Taraweeh

Taraweeh prayers are additional prayers that Muslims perform during the holy month of Ramadan after the Isha prayer. These prayers are performed in congregation and typically consist of 8 to 20 cycles of prayer, depending on the tradition.

Companies can host taraweeh prayers at a mosque or the office on specific days of the week, such as Tuesdays, to create a sense of belonging and inclusivity among employees.

Laylet al-Qadr

Laylat al-Qadr, also known as the Night of Power, is considered to be one of the holiest nights in Islam. It is believed to be the night when the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, and it is said to be a night of forgiveness and mercy.

With laylat al-qadr being the most important night of Ramadan, it is important for your company to offer benefits during this day, such as:

  • Consider giving the following day as PTO, since most Muslims stay up all night in prayer and reflection.
  • Offer a transportation stipend to the mosque in order to show the company’s support of their employees religious beliefs.
  • You can do so using Pluto’s platform by offereing a one-time purchase card with a set limit that can only be used with taxis, Careems, Uber or for gas.

Ramadan email templates that can be shared with employees

There is a lot to take care of when preparing for Ramadan. We've put together some sample email templates for various corporate initiatives to make your job easier.

Email Template 1: Announcing flexible working hours during Ramadan

Subject: Ramadan Working Hours

Dear [Employee Name],

As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, we would like to inform you that we will be implementing flexible working hours during this time to accommodate those who will be observing the fast.

Our office will be open from [start time] to [end time]. We understand that some employees may need to adjust their schedules due to the early morning and evening prayers, as well as breaking their fast in the evenings.

If you need to adjust your working hours, please speak to your line manager, who will be happy to discuss the best option for you.

Our company values diversity and inclusivity, and we hope that this initiative will help our employees observe Ramadan comfortably.

We wish all our staff observing Ramadan a blessed month, and may you get the best out of this spiritual journey.

Ramadan Mubarak!

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Email Template 2: Announcing company charitable donations during Ramadan

Subject: Ramadan Charitable Donations

Dear [Employee Name],

As we approach the holy month of Ramadan, we would like to remind you that our company values generosity and charitable giving. In line with this, we have decided to make a donation to [charity name], which supports [cause].

We believe that this is a great opportunity to give back to those in need and demonstrate our commitment to making a positive impact in the community. We hope that this donation will inspire you to consider making a charitable contribution during this holy month.

Thank you for being part of our company, and we wish you a blessed Ramadan.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Email Template 3: Inviting employees to an Iftar meal

Subject: [Company Name] invites you  to an Iftar Meal

Dear [Employee Name],

We would like to invite you to an Iftar meal on [date and time], which will be held at [location]. This event is an opportunity for our employees to come together and break their fasts as a community.

Please RSVP to [email/phone number] by [RSVP deadline] to confirm your attendance. If you have any dietary requirements, please let us know, and we will do our best to accommodate them.

We hope that this event will be an enjoyable experience for everyone and that it will help to strengthen our company culture.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication, and we wish you a blessed Ramadan.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Corporate gifting list

Iftar or suhoor restaurant list

  • Asateer Tent at Atlantis the Palm
  • Sufra
  • The Majlis
  • Allo Beirut
  • Hutong
  • Terrace on the Corniche at St. Regis Abu Dhabi
  • The Royal Majlis
  • Eunoia By Carine
  • Bombay Bungalow
  • Brasserie Boulud
  • Ibn AlBahr
  • Al Falak Ballroom
  • Karam Al Bahr

Company catering list

  • Ogram
  • Blast catering
  • Eat catering
  • The Majlis
  • Dish

Conclusion

Ultimately, providing Ramadan benefits demonstrates an employer and HR's commitment to promoting diversity and religious freedom in the workplace.

It also helps create a sense of community among employees that can lead to increased morale, collaboration, communication, and overall productivity.

By offering an employee benefits program during the holy month of Ramadan, employers can show their dedication to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for all of their employees, regardless of faith or background.

Ramadan benefits can thus be an important part of workplace culture, helping to create a positive atmosphere in which everyone feels welcome, respected, and valued.

5
All
Updates
May 26, 2022

Leen Shami

We got funded!

We're thrilled to announce that Pluto Card closed US$6M in Seed funding in February, led by Global Founders Capital.

With GFC being the lead investors, we've had participation from several of the world's leading investment firms and entrepreneurs. Soma Capital, Graph Ventures, Adapt Ventures, Ramp, Thejo Kote (Founder of Airbase), Shaan Puri, and William Hockey (Co-founder of Plaid) were some of the few who participated.

With our Seed round, we aim to get closer to achieving our mission; to streamline company expenses for MENA businesses. 

The problem

Company spending in the MENA region is problematic, time-consuming, and frustrating. Managing company spending in MENA today is difficult, time-consuming, and frustrating, as today, companies only get a single debit or credit card.

OTPs

Today, employees all share one company credit card, which usually leads to an OTP being sent to the CFO, financial leader, or founder of the company. Most bank OTPs last from 2 to 10 minutes before they’re expired. So, if an employee doesn’t get the OTP in time, they won’t be able to complete the transaction.

Overspending

When a company credit card is issued, you cannot control spending. This means there is no way to set limits on the card to avoid being overcharged by recurring subscriptions or employees going over budget.

No visibility

You cannot get real-time visibility or instant reports on business expenses with company credit cards. This makes making informed decisions about allocating resources in real-time more challenging.

Petty cash

Banks have no ideal solution for petty cash management. Companies typically maintain a cash vault at their offices, distribute loose cash to employees, and spend countless hours collecting and matching invoices.

The solution

Introducing Pluto Card: a corporate card & spend management platform that allows MENA companies to simplify and control their business expenses.

With Pluto's software, managers can issue their employees virtual cards with spend and control limits, cards that get canceled after a one-time purchase, and cards with a recurring daily, weekly, or monthly budget.

Employees can request expenses from their managers and submit reimbursement requests by dragging and dropping receipts onto the software. This happens in real-time, where managers can view employee requests as they happen, see what is being spent and where, and gain insight into instantaneous expense reports, helping them make informed decisions.

Pretty straightforward.

Want to see Pluto in action? Sign up and get a private demo here.

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See why MENA finance teams love us!

Other useful resources

5
All
Spend Management
January 30, 2024

Mohammed Ridwan

How to Improve the Expense Reconciliation Process to Close Books Faster

For every expense, teams maintain extensive documents like purchase orders, goods received notes (GRN), invoices, etc. With each increasing expense, the finance team has to spend more and more time on spend management — maintaining these documents, syncing data across accounting systems, ensuring proper approval, categorizing accurately, etc.

This manual process is time-consuming and prone to errors like missing receipts, employee fraud, unrecorded expenses, data entry typos, etc.

As a result, teams have inconsistent data across company systems and spend more time fixing these issues than focusing on their core activities. So, when finance teams strive to improve budget allocations, streamline expense tracking, and enhance financial reporting, they find themselves dedicating substantial time to addressing discrepancies among different financial databases and systems.

This blog will cover improving the expense reconciliation process and replacing manual and old methods with an improved solution.

What is Expense Reconciliation?

Expense reconciliation is a process that matches the actual expenses with the corresponding book entries. It involves comparing two sets of financial records, such as bank statements, credit card statements, receipts, etc., to identify and rectify discrepancies between them.

So, for every expense, you have an entry at an external source and in the internal systems. You match them together to ensure the accuracy of financial reporting, compliance with accounting standards, and prevention of errors or fraud.

However, companies rely on outdated systems — entry-level accounting tools, spreadsheet-based solutions, or legacy ERPs, which cannot handle end-to-end reconciliation processes. These compel finance teams to spend valuable time on manual tasks like data entry and receipt management, hindering reconciliation efficiency and increasing the risk of errors in financial data. 

Hence, submitting and tracking expenses becomes cumbersome for employees, while finance teams face manual verification and reconciliation challenges. Managers struggle with delayed approvals, and the overall process becomes susceptible to errors, affecting accuracy and compliance.

How to Reconcile Expenses Faster

Invest in spend management software to reconcile expenses faster. With spend management software, you can track and monitor each transaction on a centralized platform in real time.

Expense reconciliation with Pluto

The automated process makes reconciliation simpler and faster by providing a single source of information and enabling advanced controls. You can create customizable approval workflows and specify spending rules to suit complex hierarchies and ensure compliance with company policies. 

Especially with Pluto, each expense triggers the approval workflow and notifies employees to upload the receipt through WhatsApp. The accounting system integration syncs data across the financial systems to provide a consistent and accurate database.

Here is how switching to Pluto helps you reconcile efficiently and close your books of accounts ten times faster:

1. Easy to Identify Discrepancies

Find expanse policy discrepancies

In a traditional manual reconciliation process, identifying discrepancies involves sifting through piles of paperwork or navigating complex spreadsheets.

With Pluto's automated system, this cumbersome task is simplified. The platform's alert system actively flags potential issues, promptly notifying users of duplicate receipts. It not only streamlines the identification of irregularities but also introduces a proactive layer of fraud prevention.

You can visualize and interact with discrepancies directly on the centralized platform, turning what used to be a tedious task into a more intuitive and efficient process.

2. Speed and Accuracy 

Automation, real-time tracking, receipt capture (via optical character recognition (OCR)), approval workflows, and robust controls accelerate reconciliation cycles on Pluto. 

You need not spend a minute on a manual redundant task. The platform captures and extracts invoices from emails and WhatsApp on a centralized platform. The trigger-based workflows ensure prompt approvals without any friction. Matching documents for three-way and four-way matching simplifies with all the documents on a single tool. 

Therefore, the inherent accuracy of financial data, coupled with efficient discrepancy identification, ensures speed and reliability in the reconciliation process. 

3. Real-Time Tracking and Visibility 

Expense reconciliation tracking

Unlike conventional tracking methods, Pluto offers real-time insights through its centralized dashboard. This furnishes internal teams with immediate visibility into transactions, guaranteeing proactive adherence to company policies.

The agility provided by real-time tracking enables timely data-driven decision-making based on the latest and most accurate data.

4. Better Data Sync for a True Picture

Integrate Pluto with your ERPs

Manual data entry is prone to errors and delays, leading to discrepancies in financial records. Pluto's seamless integration with major accounting systems like Xero, Zoho, QuickBooks, Netsuite, and Dynamics ensures that the financial data is up-to-date and aligns with the organization's accounting records. This synchronization eliminates the need for manual adjustments and corrections, providing a true and accurate picture of the organization's financial status.

5. Enhanced Controls Over Processes 

Expense workflow automation

Building intricate approval workflows is simplified with Pluto. You can set up approval processes using simple if-then rules without the need for complex coding. Devise custom workflows that align perfectly with your company policies, creating a seamless and controlled process.

6. Traceable Audit Trail

Pluto maintains a traceable audit trail of all financial transactions and activities. It provides a comprehensive record of changes made to financial data. From the initiation of a transaction to any subsequent modifications, the traceable audit trail ensures transparency and accountability. This trail helps you avoid fraud and trackback discrepancies without friction.

Also, you can lock transactions post-approval, which adds an additional layer of security and integrity, facilitating smoother audits.

7. Save Time and Money

Automating financial processes, including procurement, expenses, and payables, significantly reduces manual steps in reconciliation.

Pluto's ability to capture general ledger and tax codes from expenses automates data entry. It reduces the time spent on routine reconciliation tasks. This efficiency allows finance teams to allocate resources more strategically, focusing on higher-value initiatives rather than repetitive manual tasks.

Timely financial insights help finance teams support decision-making processes with precision and confidence, fostering a data-driven financial ecosystem.

Internal Controls Strengthen Expense Reconciliation

Expense reconciliation burdens finance teams with time-consuming manual efforts and the constant threat of challenges like duplicate receipts and policy violations. These complexities lead to prolonged reconciliation cycles, hindering financial efficiency.

However, the actual progress happens when you strengthen internal control over financial reporting (ICFR), which is the anchor for successful automation in finance.  

When you embrace ICFR strategically, it bolsters internal controls, protects against risks and fraud, and sets the stage for smooth automation. The impact goes beyond just easing manual work; it promotes precision, reliability, and transparency in financial workflows. 

In simple terms, ICFR mitigates risks tied to financial inaccuracies. Read how to improve your ICFR framework for enhanced reconciliation processes.

5
All
Corporate Cards
January 30, 2024

Mohammed Ridwan

How Corporate Fleet Cards Help Modern Transport & Logistic Businesses

Companies use petty cash for managing driver and transport expenses, including maintenance, repairs, and small purchases, by allocating a small amount of physical cash to drivers. Drivers submit receipts for reconciliation, and they manually track these small transactions. 

However, tracking numerous trivial transactions becomes time-consuming, and discrepancies emerge during reconciliation. There's always a risk of misuse or theft, demanding strict security measures. Moreover, negotiating favorable terms with vendors for minor, recurring transactions becomes challenging. They must carefully budget and maintain a sufficient petty cash fund, which strains their overall cash flow.

Overall, the manual process raises efficiency concerns, necessitating a balance between control and practicality in managing day-to-day vehicle-related expenses.

A better alternative to petty cash is a fleet card. 

This post will explore corporate fleet cards, their benefits for transport and logistics, and strategies to overcome potential fuel card challenges for improved spend management.

What Is Meant by Fleet Card?

A fleet card, also known as a fuel or gas card, is a specialized payment card used by businesses to cover expenses related to their vehicle fleets. It is issued by fuel companies or financial institutions specifically for fuel purchases, maintenance, and other vehicle-related expenses.

What Can Fleet Cards Be Used For?

The fleet cards are primarily used for fuel purchases, maintenance, and repairs. They facilitate seamless payments for routine servicing, tolls and parking fees, and purchasing vehicle-related products.

You get cards with custom spending limits and advanced controls, such as real-time transaction monitoring mechanisms, category-specific restrictions, and automated alerts for enhanced security and streamlined expense management.

Drivers purchase fuel, maintenance, and other vehicle-related expenses at authorized locations with the cards, and you enjoy complete visibility on a centralized dashboard for each transaction.

What Are the Benefits of a Corporate Fleet Card?

Switching from manual petty cash management to a fleet card yields the following benefits:

  • Simplifies payment processes by reducing the complexity of cash handling

  • Improves tracking and monitoring of all vehicle-related expenses

  • Minimizes the risk of theft or misuse, providing enhanced security measures

  • Automates the expense management and reconciliation process, eliminating manual record-keeping and ensuring accuracy with reduced likelihood of errors

  • Promotes compliance by enabling you to set controls and restrictions on card usage according to company policies

  • Enhances budgeting by providing detailed reports and insights into the spending patterns for a structured and controlled approach to managing vehicle-related costs

  • Streamlines transactions with vendors, offering an efficient payment method for small, frequent transactions

Should I Use a Fuel Card or a Credit Card?

Fuel cards and credit cards share similarities in providing a convenient payment method for expenses. Both can be used at gas stations and offer detailed transaction records for monitoring expenditures. Moreover, both cards come with features such as spending controls, reporting tools, and rewards programs.

However, here are some differences between the two:

  • Fuel cards restrict card usage to fuel and maintenance-related purchases, providing greater control and limiting potential misuse.
  • Fuel cards come with fuel discounts or rewards programs at specific gas stations, providing potential cost savings that credit cards do not generally offer.
  • While credit cards provide transaction records, fuel cards offer more detailed reporting on vehicle-related expenses like fuel consumption, maintenance costs, and odometer tracking.
  • Fleet cards partner with fuel providers, service centers, and other vendors, allowing businesses to negotiate favorable terms and discounts for bulk purchases or regular transactions. For instance, a fleet card's partnership with a fuel station yields discounted fuel prices, facilitating substantial cost savings.

So, for transport and logistics businesses, corporate fleet cards offer specialized controls for fuel and maintenance, streamlined reporting, and potential fuel-related discounts.

What Are the Risks of Fuel Cards?

Fuel cards, tailored for fleet management, are designed to address the unique needs of companies in the transport and logistics sector. However, organizations face the following challenges when switching to corporate fleet fuel cards:

1. Gas Station Availability Issues

Fuel cards encounter challenges related to gas station availability that limit refueling options. As a result, drivers can not find suitable gas stations, leading to increased travel time and delays in delivery schedules.

3. Location-Dependent Acceptance

The acceptance of corporate fleet cards varies by location, leading to constraints and inconveniences for companies operating in areas where certain cards are not widely accepted.

Drivers will encounter difficulties during interstate routes if you offer a nationwide delivery service and the fleet card is only accepted at specific gas stations or regions. It complicates expense management and hinders the company's ability to streamline fuel-related transactions.

3. Management Complexity

The specialized design of fuel cards introduces an administrative burden when managed separately. For instance, a company using distinct fuel cards for different vehicles finds consolidating expenses difficult, leading to increased administrative efforts and potential operational inefficiencies.

As a result, administrators have a hard time reconciling statements, accurately tracking expenses, and ensuring compliance. This burden increases processing times and errors in financial reporting.

4. Reward Limitations

While crafted to suit industry needs, fuel cards encounter limitations in cashback offers. Consider a scenario where a company's preferred fuel card provides cashback benefits only at select stations, restricting potential cost savings for the entire fleet. 

Source

Why Should You Switch to Pluto Corporate Fleet Cards?

Pluto fleet cards don't restrict the use of cards at their discretion. Instead, they facilitate advanced controls and real-time visibility. From issuing budgeted fuel cards to creating vendor-specific cards, you can set rules that align with your company's needs and policies. Then, with each transaction, you track all fleet expenses from a single dashboard and get real-time data without manual effort.

Pluto's corporate fleet cards

So, you set cards and add controls, and you are good to go! Drivers can spend them at convenient gas stations while you enjoy complete visibility and control. Each transaction appears on the dashboard and notifies drivers to upload the receipt directly from WhatsApp. Once uploaded, you can approve the expense, and the data syncs with your accounting software to help you close your books ten times faster.

Here are the top six benefits of switching to Pluto corporate fleet cards:

1. Unrestricted Access Anywhere

Unlike traditional restrictions, Pluto corporate fleet cards liberate your drivers. There are no limitations on locations or specific fuel stations. Enjoy the convenience of using cards at the most budget-friendly and strategically located gas stations, repair shops, or truck stops that welcome Mastercard.

2. Easy Cashback

Pluto corporate fleet cards make cashback benefits straightforward. With up to 2% unlimited cashback on over 100+ currency spends, enjoy seamless cost savings without intricate conditions or restrictions.

3. Smart Budgeting

Smart budgeting with corporate fleet cards

Pluto fleet cards, functioning as debit cards, provide smart budgeting without blocking cash flow. Drivers can request limit increases in seconds, ensuring operational flexibility with swift approvals. This distinctive feature sets Pluto apart, seamlessly blending budget management and uninterrupted cash flow for efficient fleet operations.

4. Driver-Friendly Controls

Provide drivers with budgeted fuel cards and set spending rules. Real-time data and advanced controls give you complete transparency of fleet expenses, enabling strategic decision-making.

5. Grow With Ease

Whether you have hundreds or thousands of drivers, the streamlined process of issuing corporate fleet cards and setting controls remains hassle-free, supporting your scalability with ease.

6. Eliminate Fraud

Eliminate fraud using Pluto corporate fleet cards

Lock or freeze cards instantly from the Pluto app, ensuring proactive measures against fraud. Enable company policies to ensure in-policy transactions, eliminating the risk of unauthorized spending.

Enhance End-to-End Spend Management

Pluto eliminates the need for separate investments in corporate fleet cards, offering an all-in-one spend management solution. 

Pluto's comprehensive platform facilitates both corporate purchase cards and fleet cards, streamlining your financial operations. Enjoy the same benefits as traditional corporate fleet cards but with enhanced functionality, all within a unified platform. With Pluto, you get unparalleled efficiency in managing corporate expenses, ensuring a seamless and integrated approach to financial control. 

Transform your spend management today. Book a demo and discover how Pluto can optimize your financial processes and elevate your business operations.

5
All
Guides
January 29, 2024

Mohammed Ridwan

Step-By-Step Guide for an Effective Procurement Audit (With Checklist)

Some common procurement challenges are inadequate documentation, ambiguous contracts, insufficient internal controls, risk management, and non-compliance with industry standards.

There are only two ways to identify such issues: wait for repercussions to disrupt the supply chain or conduct a procurement audit.

This post will cover how to conduct a comprehensive procurement audit with a step-by-step process and checklist.

What is a Procurement Audit? 

A procurement audit is a systematic review of the procurement process to ensure compliance, efficiency, and effectiveness.

The auditing team carefully reviews documents like contracts and purchasing records in a procurement audit. It examines each phase of the procurement process, from bid assessments to contract management, to identify discrepancies and optimize efficiency. The main goal is ensuring adherence to regulations, minimizing risks, and refining procurement practices for optimal organizational outcomes.

How To Prepare for a Procurement Audit 

For an effective procurement audit, consolidate all the documents with proper access for relevant stakeholders. Employ procurement software to create a single source of truth and avoid unnecessary friction.

Implement access controls to restrict permissions to view-only access for sensitive procurement data. This step ensures that only authorized individuals, such as the audit team, can access critical information, minimizing the risk of unauthorized alterations or data breaches.

Here is an exhaustive list of documents you will need for the procurement audit:

  1. Procurement policies and procedures, including the updates or revisions to these documents
  2. Contracts and agreements with vendors — amendments, renewals, or modifications to existing contracts
  3. Purchase orders issued during the audit period and supporting documentation for each purchase order
  4. Invoices related to procurement and payment records, including dates and amounts paid
  5. Goods received notes and delivery records, including dates, quantities, and item condition
  6. Vendor profiles, including contact information and details of vendor qualifications and any evaluation or performance assessment reports of vendors
  7. Bid and proposal documents, the evaluation criteria, and scoring records for vendor selection
  8. Records of communication that are related to procurement decisions and processes — correspondence with vendors, internal departments, and other stakeholders
  9. Documentation outlining internal controls within the procurement process — evidence of segregation of duties and authorization processes
  10. Previous internal and external audit reports and any actions taken or improvements made based on earlier audit recommendations
  11. Procurement budgets and any adjustments or variances with the original budget
See a Demo

Five Steps for Conducting a Procurement Audit

With all the documents ready, begin the procurement audit process. Here is an end-to-end five-step audit process with checklists for a successful audit:

1. Gather Stakeholder Input 

Conduct interviews with key stakeholders to gather insights. This adds a layer of understanding regarding the human aspects of the procurement process, helping identify challenges and opportunities for improvement.

Additionally, collaborate with relevant stakeholders, such as department heads and key project managers, to decide the scope and create an audit plan. This inclusive approach ensures an understanding of organizational needs and contributes to developing an effective and targeted audit strategy. 

2. Assign Roles

Create a clear roadmap for team members. First, designate a lead auditor to oversee the entire process. This person ensures coordination and consistency. 

Then, distribute specific responsibilities among team members, such as document analysis, interviews, and data assessment. This division of labor maximizes efficiency, expertise, and accountability, contributing to a well-executed procurement audit.

Here are the top four best practices when assigning roles to an audit team:

  • Clearly define team tasks to prevent confusion and streamline workflow
  • Implement segregation of duties for an unbiased audit process
  • Rotate roles periodically to encourage collaboration and shared expertise
  • Foster collaboration among diverse team members for a comprehensive assessment

3. Identify Problem Areas 

Examine the procurement process to identify weaknesses and assess the overall efficiency of the procurement process. Here are the top four steps to keep in mind:

Assess Purchase Orders, Purchase Requests, and Invoices

Examine the purchase orders, requests, and invoices for accuracy, completeness, and adherence to established protocols. Ensure that the documentation is easily accessible. Any discrepancies or missing information indicates inefficiencies or errors in the procurement process. 

Potential Loopholes

  • Misplaced signatures, unclear specifications, or missing supporting details
  • Discrepancies in recorded quantities, prices, or delivery dates
  • Mismatched product codes, incorrect quantities, or inaccurate pricing

Healthy Practices:

  • Implement a standardized checklist for purchase orders and requests, ensuring all necessary information is included
  • Conduct regular training for procurement staff on accurate and comprehensive documentation practices
  • Employ procure-to-pay software for storing and retrieving documents, enhancing accessibility and reducing errors

Review Vendor Relations

Evaluate the strength and effectiveness of relationships with vendors. Examine vendor agreements and contracts to ensure they are clear, comprehensive, and aligned with organizational needs. Also, verify the effectiveness of vendor vetting processes.

Potential Loopholes

  • Contracts lacking specificity in payment schedules, service levels, or delivery terms
  • Failure to verify vendor credentials, financial stability, or past performances

Healthy Practices:

  • Conduct periodic vendor performance reviews to ensure ongoing reliability
  • Develop transparent and standardized contract templates specifying payment schedules, service levels, and delivery terms
  • Diversify vendor partnerships to diminish dependency and enhance resilience

Analyze Procurement Practices

Assess the entire procurement process to check if it adheres to industry standards and complies with organizational policies and legal requirements. This involves comprehensively examining sourcing, contracting, and purchasing practices to identify deviations or shortcomings.

Potential Loopholes

  • Failure to adhere to industry standards or legal requirements, showcasing a disregard for regulatory protocols
  • Continued reliance on outdated or non-competitive suppliers, hindering cost-effectiveness
  • Lack of systematic identification and mitigation of potential risks, exposing the organization to unforeseen challenges

Healthy Practices:

  • Provide training sessions on industry standards and legal requirements to ensure ongoing compliance
  • Organize quarterly workshops focusing on proactive risk identification and mitigation strategies, fostering an aggressive risk-aware culture

Examine Internal Controls

Evaluate the segregation of duties, authorization procedures, and overall internal controls. Make sure that checks and balances are in place, preventing fraud, errors, or unauthorized activities that compromise the integrity of the procurement process.

Potential Loopholes

  • Allocation of responsibilities for both approval and execution to a single individual increases the risk of errors or fraudulent activities 
  • Insufficient checks and balances in the approval process, allowing unauthorized transactions
  • Absence of mechanisms to detect irregularities, fostering an environment conducive to fraudulent activities

Healthy Practices:

  • Provide employee training on fraud prevention and promote a culture of ethical behavior
  • Implement proper approval workflows to enhance control mechanisms

4. Spot Out-Of-Process Spending

Investigate expenditures to ensure they align with approved procedures. Any out-of-process spending indicates a lack of adherence to procurement guidelines, necessitating corrective measures. 

Potential Loopholes

  • Missing or inaccurately recorded receipts, making it challenging to validate and track expenses
  • Insufficient supervision that enables unsanctioned spending to go undetected

Healthy Practices:

  • Implement strict spending approval processes with explicit guidelines
  • Conduct periodic spending reviews to identify and rectify discrepancies
  • Use spend management software for real-time monitoring to detect and address unauthorized spending promptly 

Here is a list of elements to assess for the internal procurement audit: 

Procurement Audit Checklist

Check the following items to get a comprehensive overview of your procurement process. 

  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  • Clear audit trail for procurement transactions, documenting each step in the process
  • Delegation of authority matrix 
  • Roles and responsibilities as per the matrix
  • Training manuals to help users
  • Logical access rights to respective users
  • Segregation of duty (SOD) rules in the software
  • The purchase order dump — pick samples to check
  • If each purchase is supported by at least three vendors
  • Cost-benefit sample for vendors
  • Terms for purchase orders
  • Agreements of major purchases
  • Terms of sample agreements
  • Annual procurement budget aligned with annual operations planning 
  • Goods received notes (GRN) report
  • Open purchase requests and purchase orders
  • Exceptions to the process being approved
  • The aging of material available in the warehouse
  • If the same material was purchased by multiple vendors
  • Vendors approval process
  • Duplicate vendors in the system (identified via PAN)
  • Dummy vendors
  • Minimum order quantity (if created)
  • If the company maintains any risk register related to the procurement function
  • Sample vendor payouts (as per purchase order terms)
  • Internal control over financial reporting related to procurement
  • Measures to secure procurement data and ensure confidentiality
  • Ethical vendor selection practices, ensuring fairness, transparency, and avoiding conflicts of interest

5. Prepare Audit Report

Compile all audit findings related to internal procurement processes. Then, based on the following inspection, create an audit report:

  • Ensure procurement aligns with policies, standards, and legal requirements, identifying non-compliance and assessing organizational risk and reputation impact
  • Analyze the workflow, pinpointing bottlenecks and assessing control effectiveness for optimal procurement efficiency
  • Evaluate resource utilization in personnel, technology, and budget to optimize productivity without compromising quality
  • Assess risk identification, assessment, and mitigation in procurement, recommending improvements for enhanced resilience and threat minimization

Once the assessment is complete, document recommendations to address identified issues and improve procurement processes. Also, highlight aspects of the procurement process that align with best practices. 

Compile all findings, analyses, and suggestions into an audit report. Present the identified strengths and weaknesses, seeking input and additional context to enrich the audit findings. Finally, establish a monitoring mechanism to track the outcomes of the implemented changes. Regularly revisit and update procurement practices based on changing organizational needs, industry standards, and regulatory requirements.

Regular Audits for Efficient Internal Processes 

Routine procurement audits aren't just crisis management tools; they are proactive investments. By dedicating time and resources to periodic evaluations, you prevent issues before they arise. The long-term gains in efficient processes, improved vendor relations, and heightened compliance far outweigh the initial investment.

Automation adds a transformative layer to your procurement process, speeding up audits and providing real-time insights. We have covered in-depth how procurement automation can reinforce your internal processes without impacting your supply chain. Read how you can automate procurement without unnecessary complications.