Top 6 Spend Management Software for Businesses in the UAE (2023)
Managing business spend is a key concern for most companies. The use of spreadsheets, paper receipts, paper vouchers and handwritten notes makes processes inefficient, time-consuming, and resource-intensive. It also reduces the finance team’s visibility over the company’s spend.
The lack of control over spend causes stress within finance teams, who lag behind due to lack of visibility. Moreover, the cash chaos leads to unspoken internal resentment wherein CFOs think that their teams aren’t providing the necessary key financial insights they require.
A spend management platform can solve this problem. But not every software offers the same functionalities and benefits. You need to select the one that has a good UX and in-depth offerings, enables more reporting, is flexible and scalable, integrates with your ERP, supports the complexities of your business, and has robust security. It should also fit into your organizational structure.
To help you choose the most suitable one for your organization, this article will cover the top 7 spend management software to manage your corporate spending.
What Is Spend Management Software?
A spend management software is a tool that helps manage corporate spend, i.e., all non-payroll expenses. It does this by:
- Simplifying capture, storage, and retrieval of receipts and documents to reduce the risk of misplaced receipts
- Deploying approval workflows to ensure that business spending follows the company's approval hierarchy
- Providing real-time visibility into business expenses, helping to identify any irregularities
- Generating alerts when an expenditure violates company policies
- Automating employee reimbursement processes to reduce delays in employees getting paid
- Maintaining a complete audit log, including spending approvals and changes
- Easily sync with your ERP/accounting tool for streamlined month-end close
- Managing petty cash expenses by tracking and recording small, miscellaneous expenses in real-time
- Facilitating payment capabilities to handle outgoing financial transactions
- Integrating corporate cards for real-time expense tracking and control spending
- Facilitating procurement processes for the purchase of goods and services
- Handling invoice management to ensure timely payment and record-keeping to foster healthy vendor relations
Hence, spend management software provides financial visibility and control.
Top 7 Spend Management Software
These are the top 7 spend management software to consider:
Pluto is a spend management platform for enterprises that transforms your finance processes with automation to provide more visibility and control. It brings together the spenders, savers, and sourcers of your business to offer a complete revolution from a chaotic spend management system to a seamless collaborative workflow. It is the fastest way to manage your finances, including account payables and employee reimbursement.
- Custom approval workflows that adapt to the company's hierarchy for timely and accurate approvals
- Facilitate intricate multi-layer workflows to adapt to complex hierarchies to support seamless purchase requests and purchase orders
- Unlimited corporate cards with budget controls to maintain expenses within corporate policies
- Offers zero-balance cards, which get funded once the expense is approved.
- Card-specific policies to make branch & subsidiary-level reimbursements easy
- Ability to add comments and document the conversation along with other transaction details to maintain a comprehensive audit log
- View-only access available for external accountants to review financial data without making changes
- Automated receipt capture through OCR, with the ability to support bulk upload via WhatsApp and emails
- Alerts in case of duplicate receipt uploads to avoid fraud and compliance issues
- Custom expense reports to overview business expenses and spending trends
- Integration with accounting platforms like Netsuite for advanced general ledger (GL) coding, tax tracking, vendor syncing, etc.
- Secure document storage with a 5-year audit log and bank-grade encryption
- Enables branch & subsidiary-level spend tracking (not offered by other platforms)
- WhatsApp integration to make receipt upload easy
- Offers up to 2% cashback on all non-AED transactions
- Independent PCI DSS Level 1 Certification
- Slightly longer on-boarding due to corporate card offering
- Integrates with all other major ERPs except Tally
Procurify simplifies spend management by accelerating the approval and reconciliation process. It helps to track the business spending with real-time tracking and breaking down data silos. With a core focus on simplifying invoice payments and management, it helps businesses in vendor and spend management.
- Ability to approve requests based on attached receipts and leave comments for clarification
- Custom budgets for different departments or projects
- OCR to auto-extract invoice data with a dedicated centralized invoice box and automatic matching with purchase orders
- Detailed reports based on different departments, categories, or other relevant parameters
- Tailored expense request forms to capture specific information relevant to the organization's needs
- Compatibility with multiple currencies, streamlining international expenses
- Storage of all expense-related documents, including receipts, invoices, and expense reports
- Integration with ERP to sync expense data
It has standard all-in-one pricing of $2000/month. But custom pricing quotes are provided for add-ons like more users, more domains, NetSuite integration, on-premise training, implementation services, and on-premise hybrid implementation.
- Easy to make amendments, for instance, to invoice amounts, which helps when raising a PO before receiving the invoice
- Responsive support team when handling technical issues
- Does not offer corporate cards in UAE
- Only supports procurement based spending
- Poor reporting capabilities—lacks functionality
Spendesk combines approvals, corporate cards, expense reimbursements, and invoice management to automate the spend management process. Specifically designed for finance teams, it offers real-time expense tracking and offers custom workflows for complete control. By consolidating all payments, it provides a spend management solution that enhances financial transparency.
- 100% digital expense reports
- OCR technology to capture and extract key details from receipts
- Expense claim history, available anytime, anywhere, for quick and accurate reporting
- A mobile app for quick reimbursement requests by snapping a photo of receipts
- Real-time expense monitoring to spot errors and missing receipts and stay compliant
- Automates categorization of expenses and VAT account
- Detects duplicate invoices and errors to support three-way matching
- Tracks all purchase orders and invoices with the ability to schedule payments
Request the sales team for a custom quote. A free trial is available.
- Single purchases are straightforward and simple
- Easy to integrate with an SSO provider, making login easy and secure for users
- Handy drag-and-drop receipt functionality
- Virtual cards are glitchy, with merchants rejecting transactions that have already gone through
- Some basic features are not included in the basic option where they should have been (i.e., memorizing accounting patterns for vendors).
- Corporate cards have defects (especially for travel expenses)
Airbase simplifies expense reporting with AI and ML. It ensures quick, hassle-free, and smart corporate expense management. It is an automation solution for SMBs and large enterprises. It packages various modules such as AP automation and corporate cards to ease the spend management process for accounting teams and employees.
- OCR to populate details, including GL category, date, amount, and purpose
- Ensures compliance by sending reminders and, if needed, locking cards until policies are met
- Reminders to upload receipts, eliminating the need to chase employees for receipts
- Custom approval workflows and budget limits for physical cards
- Real-time alerts for suspicious activity, enabling quick responses to potential fraudulent purchases
- Supports onboarding with a self-service vendor portal and custom questionnaires
- Facilitates payments and approvals, including multi-subsidiary support, international currency, and real-time GL sync
- Real-time audit trail with receipts, notes, and documentation for transparency.
Request the sales team for a custom quote.
- Intuitive and easy to use; no training or previous knowledge required
- Seamless approval workflows
- Poor reporting capabilities
- The mobile app is slow and takes time to load pages
- SSO-based login sometimes takes a few tries
- Not suitable for complex branch-level approvals and expenses
Coupa is a cloud-based automation platform to manage business spending, ranging from procurement to expense management. It facilitates supply chain optimization by providing visibility and control. It streamlines expenses, reduces risk, and ensures compliance by automating reporting, simplifying reimbursements, and offering mobile tracking.
- Offers virtual payment cards for pre-approved expenses, speeding up the reconciliation
- OCR technology and integration with accounting software eliminates manual data entry
- Provides expense reports with intelligent algorithms to prevent fraud and ensure compliance
- A centralized view of all expense spending, enabling accurate assessment
- Enables visibility and control over travel expenses before they occur, ensuring budget control
- Simplifies procurement by offering a centralized area for comparing items from various suppliers and managing punchouts and hosted catalogs
- Provides real-time visibility into purchase orders, order lifecycle, and order line availability
- SmarterTrip feature to automate expense tracking based on the user's location, including mileage and receipt capture
Request the sales team for a custom quote.
- Several categories and filters in the analytics section to streamline data
- Chat option enables approver and claimant to discuss issues with receipts
- Enables setting up of customized approval chains and including additional new approvers
- Lots of unnecessary notifications, making it difficult to select the ones that need action or comment
- Low receipt searchability, making retrieval time-consuming
- Inconsistent syncing of remit-to address from NetSuite
- Complex to implement and not intuitive, forcing admins to spend more time resolving employees' queries
- Slow customer service
- Very expensive
BILL simplifies expense tracking by providing real-time visibility and customization to manage expenses. It is a spend management solution for SMBs to control payables, receivables expenses, and all corporate expenses. It allows businesses to combine a scattered spend management process into a single platform with seamless syncing.
- Provides credit limits ranging from $500 to $5 million to control spending within constraints
- Makes it easier to monitor spending with real-time visibility into the business finances
- Custom approval workflows to speed up the approval process with minimal friction
- Multiple payment options, including ACH, credit card, check, international wire transfers
- Automates purchase order workflows with the ability to sync and automate two-way matching and three-way matching
- Ability to do quick coding and sync with accounting systems to streamline expense reconciliation
- Enables automated receipt matching, categorization, and expense reporting, reducing administrative workload
- Offers security features, including the ability to freeze and create corporate cards instantly
- Notifies administrators of each employee's transactions, ensuring timely oversight
Bill provides a free trial and essentials pack starting at $45 for six standard user roles. Its team and corporate pack are for $55 and $79, respectively. Enterprises need to request a custom quote.
- One-click swift payments
- Minimum training required
- Easy-to-use mobile app
- Customer support is difficult to initiate, slow, and unresponsive
- Frequent changes in the interface create confusion for users
How to Choose the Right Spend Management Software
To pick the right software, understand your organization's unique needs.
- What are your goals—cutting costs, enhancing compliance, or making expense processing more efficient?
- What issues do you face with expenses now—a time-consuming process, too many errors, or poor vendor relationships?
- How many employees will use the software, and should it be scalable to accommodate future hires?
- Do you have specific industry rules or in-house policies the software must follow?
Consider these eight factors:
Ease of Use
The software should require minimal training or support with a not-too-steep learning curve. Admins shouldn’t have to spend hours training their employees.
Choose software with features like automated approval workflows, expense categorization, and notifications. This will improve not only visibility but also accuracy and speed. You will have complete control over finances without having to do tedious manual tasks.
Pick software that complies with security and is certified. It should provide data encryption, role-based access control, and regular security updates.
The software should integrate with existing financial and accounting systems. This provides a unified view of your financial data without any disruptions. You shouldn’t have to sync data from multiple sources, which can add up to the manual tasks.
Document Capture and Retrieval
Pick a software that has simple document capture and retrieval capabilities. Attaching or retrieving receipts, invoices, and other relevant documents should not take more than a minute. OCR-based software that detects the information to auto-populate expense reports is better than that requiring manual entry.
Select software that enables specifying budgets for different projects, departments, or expense categories. It should be able to monitor the set budgets and raise alerts in case of breach. It should also allow you to modify these budgets at your discretion, ensuring funds reach the right place at the right time.
Multiple Payment Options
The software should allow you to configure custom payment options to suit your business needs. This includes credit cards, ACH, or other payment methods.
Scalability and Flexibility
Select software that can accommodate increased usage for growing businesses. It must also be flexible enough to adapt to changing needs, such as new expense categories, compliance requirements, and organizational structures.
The Spend Management Solution for Your Team
Investing in a spend management tool like Pluto is a smart decision that can improve your financial visibility. From set-up to integration and managing intricate workflows, Pluto handles all aspects of spend management.
- It seamlessly integrates with your current processes, ensuring a smooth transition.
- It offers flexibility to handle complex operations, catering to the needs of both small and large teams.
- Its automation capabilities reduce manual tasks and enhance accuracy for better expense management.
Pluto is the only independently audited PCI DSS Level 1 provider in the UAE, ensuring the highest security standards for enterprises.
Pluto offers a spend management tool that adapts to your evolving needs and provides freedom from financial chaos.
If you want to see how Pluto can transform your spend management into a simpler process, book a demo today.
Disclaimer: The comparisons and rankings of spend management software competitors in this article are based primarily on reviews found online. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, these reviews are subjective and reflect the opinions of the users who posted them. The information presented is intended for general informational purposes and should not be considered as a definitive guide for choosing a software provider. We encourage readers to conduct their own research and consider their specific needs before making a decision.
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At Pluto Card, our mission is to assist businesses of all scales make well-informed choices. To uphold our standards, we follow editorial guidelines to guarantee that our content consistently aligns with our high-quality benchmarks.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Want to see Pluto in action? Sign up and get a private demo here.
Best Virtual Corporate Card For Business 
In modern business, cash and checks have gone the way of the horse and buggy: they’re simply too inefficient. But even their replacements – traditional payment methods like debit and credit cards – are overdue for an upgrade.
Welcome virtual corporate cards.
These digital payment methods offer numerous perks, from faster payments and reconciliation to greater control and security. They’re quicker, safer, and easier to integrate and use for accounting and operational teams alike.
Plus, the industry is on the cusp of an explosion, which could send innovation through the stratosphere. Between 2021 and 2026 alone, virtual card spending is predicted to skyrocket from $1.9 trillion to $6.8 trillion.
Here’s what to know.
First, A Brief Refresher on Corporate Cards
Corporate credit cards are credit cards issued to a business entity – not a person – as the responsible party.
In most other respects, corporate cards are like regular credit cards. They require a credit check to apply, charge a regular interest rate, and even come with reward systems. Corporate purchase cards are also unique in that the business can issue dozens of employee cards on the same account.
Pluto corporate cards come with specific controls to help your business manage spend. Real time tracking, setting limits on the go and quick reconciliations are just a few of the things that Pluto can provide.
But there is more. For companies who need to act quickly and require flexibility in their card issuing, there are virtual cards.
What is a Virtual Corporate Card?
Virtual corporate cards, like regular corporate cards, are linked to the business’ budget. Employees can use these cards to pay for business expenses without using their own personal cards or cash.
But unlike physical cards, virtual credit cards reside solely in the digital realm. These cards are essentially unique, digitally-generated 16-digit card numbers that tie to a specific spending account. (In this case, the business’ account.) Each virtual card contains other essential card details, too, like the following:
- Cardholder’s name
- Company’s billing address
- Card number
- Expiration date
Virtual cards are also unusual in that they can be generated and destroyed in moments. They can be designed to permit one-off charges, expire same-day, or hold only a specific dollar amount. Some virtual cards can even be linked to a particular vendor for one-time or recurring payments, perhaps with weekly or monthly spend limits.
Virtual cards can be accepted anywhere that online payments, and even some in-store payments, are accepted. Due to their ability to generate new numbers on demand, they offer additional security and control for business accounts. Plus, they can’t be lost or stolen like a regular credit card.
Virtual Credit Card vs. Virtual Corporate Card
A virtual corporate card is simply a digital credit card issued to a corporation. For the most part, you can use virtual cards the same way you could use regular cards. However, like corporate cards, these virtual equivalents allow the issuing firm and receiving businesses to set particular spend and monitoring controls.
Because virtual credit cards are 100% digital and able to generate new 16-digit numbers on demand, they’re optimized for safety and flexibility. They also make it easier to reconcile books and otherwise manage spending.
Why Use Pluto Virtual Corporate Cards?
Pluto virtual cards offer tons of perks and use cases. With more control and yet unparalleled flexibility, your business can remain nimble as you grow.
At the same time, department heads can keep an eye on expenses, spending, and accounting practices.
Flexible Setup and Spending
Modern companies need to be nimble, able to make purchases on the fly and reconcile their books in minutes, not days. Virtual cards let your business do so –without breaking their budgets.
Virtual cards provide unprecedented levels of flexibility to businesses of all sizes. After signing up, cards can be generated and issued to individuals with just a few clicks.
They also permit companies to limit available vendors, set a specific spending limit, expiration dates, and even the specific department budget the card should link to.
One of the biggest perks of Pluto's cards is that you can create as many as you need in a matter of seconds.
The times when an employee had to wait several days for the approvals and the card details to arrive are over.
For example - at 9:00, we had a team discussion about additional performance marketing activities.hile we were on the call, the department head created 3 virtual corporate card numbers for us to use.
It took him roughly 2 minutes to create them. All that without missing a beat on the call itself.
Right after we finished the call, we could start setting up ads.
Once you’ve generated a card – either for your team or by employee request – you can quickly personalize them for added constraint.
These controls are admittedly extensive, allowing your business to:
- Lock cards to a particular merchant or vendor
- Ensure cards can only pay to specific accounts
- Generate cards with set one-time, monthly, or recurring expenditure limits
- Institute purchase approval practices for individual cards, persons, or teams
Companies can use these various limits to prevent overspending, surprise fees, and unnecessary surcharges. Plus, with specific cards linked to individual employees or vendors, compartmentalized spend management becomes even easier. For many businesses, this is a welcome alternative to issuing high-limit cards to every employee that requires one.
In the example above, you can see one of the popular uses of Pluto virtual cards - employee benefits.
When a new employee joins, how much time does it usually take your HR department to get wellness or children's educational benefits to that employee?
With Pluto, it’ll take you leess than 2 minutes.
Another perk of virtual cards is that they can be generated for and linked to a single individual or team.
That makes purchase tracking easier, which increases personal and departmental accountability.
By using built-in accountability and analysis tools, your business can better track how and when money is spent at every level.
Streamlined Accounts Payable
Virtual corporate cards simplify the role of the finance team. Pluto can integrate with your accounting software, making it easy to sync your chart of accounts, automate mapping your GL accounts, and bulk verify & export your expenses so you can close your books 10x faster.
From there, settlements can happen immediately rather than taking days or weeks. This eliminates the slow, potentially error-riddled manual accounting process with a faster, cheaper, and more efficient digital alternative.
Pluto's virtual cards can help greatly reduce your overall card risk profile. Their increased security is due to their unique design, including their:
- Digital nature, which precludes them from being physically stolen.
- Set spending limits to prevent overcharging.
- Ability to block vendors and retailers from storing personal or card information long-term, helping to prevent fraud
- Ability to include one-time or vendor-specific expenditures and other spending controls, limiting financial hemorrhaging
- Auto-lock features to freeze cards instantly
- Ability to delete and regenerate virtual cards in seconds rather than days
Pluto's virtual cards feed their data directly into a centralized interface, allowing all data to show up in real-time reports, simplifying the analytical process. The spend management systems also offer real-time notifications.
Together, these features offer companies greater real-time visibility over their expenditures. This level of transparency can inculcate a healthier spending culture within a company beyond merely increasing accountability.
Plus, real-time reporting means that accounting teams and department heads can immediately respond to budget requests, verify receipts, and manage card limits.
Pluto expense management dashboard allows you to see everything and makes spend control a breeze.
Virtual credit cards provide an easy approval system to allow finance teams to take advantage of automatic reconciliations whenever possible.
Accounting teams can set codes for recurring transactions and tag controls to identify transactions before posting them to the general ledger. Each card can be linked to a specific employee to link specific transactions to each employee.
With the right card and accounting integrations, it’s possible to automate the bulk of manual data entry and reconciliation out of the gate. Plus, you’ll increase the accuracy of your data and insights.
Efficient Vendor Payment and Management
You can also use virtual cards to simplify vendor management.
You can link specific cards to particular vendors, allowing you to track which teams use them regularly and how their prices change over time.
By setting limits and expiration dates to your specifications, you can prevent teams from “forgetting” about upcoming auto-renewals.
Pluto virtual corporate card offers a wide range of perks and benefits!
Instead of giving you Starbucks gift cards, we formed partnerships with some of the most critical services for the day-to-day operations of your business.
Reduce the Risk of Fraud
When multiple employees and vendors share a high-limit physical card, you run the risk of operational problems and fraud.
The more people who can access a single 16-digit number, the more likely unauthorized expenses can slip through the cracks.
Virtual credit cards don’t come with the same fraud and data loss risks that physical cards do.
- They’re impervious to hacks that come with swiping physical cards at in-person terminals.
- You can create cards for a particular purchase, vendor or project.
- You can easily link cards to specific employees and/or vendors, offering full control while minimizing risk.
Virtual Corporate Card Use Cases
Due to their innate flexibility and unprecedented control, virtual credit card programs offer multiple potential use cases. There are too many to go over here – but we’ll address a few of the most common or impactful.
Digital agencies need to be able to make payments on behalf of their clients. This can be done using virtual cards, which allows the agency to keep track of spending and ensures that funds are used for the intended purpose.
With Pluto, you can create virtual cards for every PPC campaign or bigger project and keep track of your agency's spending in one place.
Not only does this allow you to scale the clients' performance marketing efforts, but the spend control dashboard shows you exactly how much was spent. You can go as far as naming and tagging your virtual cards, so you can see how much was spent per PPC channel on individual clients.
Catering, lights, music, production, venues, drivers so many things that even organizers have to keep in the air! If you are an event organizer, chances are you understand how important it is to keep your spending in one place. That way when the time comes to file taxes or show ROI, everything is itemized and accounted for.
With a virtual card, all your charges will be automatically filed under the right categories. You can also set limits on how much can be spent per vendor, so you don't have to worry about overspending.
And if you have a team working on the event with you, you can give them each their own virtual Pluto card (or physical) with their own spending limits. That way, you can see at a glance who is spending what and where.
When you are a startup, your want to fully focus on your product and leave the rest to someone else. With a virtual card, you don't have to worry about setting up a corporate credit line or dealing with complex expense reports.
Just set up your team with Pluto virtual cards and let them manage their own expenses. You can see what they are spending in real-time and track progress against your budget.
Also, when you are at your early phase, there is no time for lengthy approvals. SaaS, ads, tools, plugins - virtual card can service them all.
You business is digital and so should be your payment tools. With a virtual card, you can make payments online without ever having to worry about the security of your information.
Worried about that Alibaba supplier? Create a virtual card with a limit just for that vendor and you're good to go. Put a spending limit on it, and you limited any potential risks as well.
- Need your team to buy TikTok ads? -> Done. TikTok Ads Virtual Card
- Need to pay an Upwork freelancer? -> Done. Upwork Specific Virtual Card
You see where we are going with this. Create as many virtual cards as you need for as many occasions as you need.
Consultants are on the road most of the time, and when they are not - they are seated in the client premises, helping to grow the business.
Employee travel is one of the most commonly-cited reasons for individuals requiring their own corporate cards. Travel expenses may include hotel rooms, a food allowance, or additional budgeting to purchase essential materials while they’re away from home, so to speak.
However, even in your own teams, it’s possible for employees to get carried away. An expensive dinner, unexpected expenses, and hotel room upgrades may all be well within your budget. But if you want to prevent excessive spending on your dime, virtual card controls hand you that power.
Any company that have a vehicle fleet knows that a lot of time can go into fuel cards management.
Pluto can provide both virtual and physical corporate cards which makes it a perfect solution for efficient fleet management.
You can issue fuel cards to the drivers as needed, and scale up and down depending on the current business situation.
In addition to that you see the fuel expenses real-time and can set limits and approvals where required.
- Virtual corporate credit cards pave the way for the future while addressing a multitude of modern business pain points.
- They hand companies greater control over their spending, simplify accounting across the board, and even help protect employees.
- Plus, with so many nuances and use cases, it’s incredibly easy to personalize virtual cards to meet your unique needs.
7 Ultimate Digital Transformation Tips for CFOs in UAE
The finance landscape is undergoing a seismic shift in an era of unstinted technological advancement. Back in 2018, a PWC report found that amongst the top 12 challenges that financial organisations faced, 4 of them were technology-related. It wasn't about deciding whether to implement digital transformation technologies but more about understanding the enterprise value these investments would add.
According to Deloitte, adopting the right digital transformation strategies can increase market value by up to $1.25 trillion across Fortune 500 companies. But how can organisations implement these strategies successfully?
The CFO's Perspective on Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is no longer just a buzzword; it is a mandate for modern businesses, and the CFO plays a central role in this paradigm shift. Gone are the days when the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) position revolved solely around balance sheets, budgeting, and compliance. The modern CFO is now tasked with leading the charge in the digital transformation of the finance department.
With its vision of becoming a global technology and innovation hub in the UAE, the need for digital transformation is even more compelling.
Why is digital transformation so vital for a CFO?
- Real-Time Financial Insights: Real-time access to financial data can be an invaluable asset in combating expense fraud. Digital transformation allows CFOs to detect irregularities promptly, leading to timely intervention and reducing the financial losses associated with fraud.
- Enhanced Reporting: CFOs can generate comprehensive financial reports more quickly and accurately, aiding in transparency and stakeholder communication.
- Cost Reduction: Automating financial processes can lead to cost savings, such as reduced labour and operational costs.
- Strategic Planning: Digital tools help CFOs analyse financial data and create insights to make strategic decisions and adapt to changing market conditions.
- Compliance and Risk Management: Digital solutions assist in maintaining compliance with changing regulations and mitigating financial risks.
What is the best digital transformation tool for you?
As a CFO, your journey towards a comprehensive digital transformation should be guided by specific features that enhance financial efficiency and help combat one of the most prevalent issues—expense fraud. Here's what you should look for in a digital transformation tool to achieve these goals:
1. Full Control Over Budget Allocation and Spend Visibility:
Access to complete control over budget allocation and clear visibility into how those budgets are spent is the foundation of sound financial management. Your chosen digital transformation tool should empower you to allocate resources efficiently and make data-driven decisions.
2. Real-Time Closure with ERP Integration:
Moving from traditional month-end closures to real-time closures is a game-changer. This transition ensures you have real-time insights into your company's expenditure, allowing you to address financial challenges swiftly. An essential component of this is seamless integration with your ERP system, which provides instant access to financial data.
3. Elimination of Petty Cash Usage:
Digitization of financial processes is a fundamental aspect of modern financial management. To achieve this, focus on strategies to eliminate petty cash usage as much as possible. Consider solutions that offer alternatives, such as merchant-specific cards, fuel cards, and PRO cards, which reduce inefficiency and enhance security.
4. Advanced Expense Fraud Detection:
Expense fraud is an all-too-common challenge faced by many companies. Leveraging digitization to combat this issue is essential. Look for a solution equipped with world-class Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to identify duplicate receipts and suspicious transactions. The goal is to ensure transactions are monitored in real-time and in an automated manner, such that financial compliance is continuously maintained.
5. Improved Audit Process for Accounting Teams:
Ensuring an enhanced audit process is a vital component of your CFO responsibilities. You must seek a digital transformation tool with two critical features for this. First, accounting automation powered by ERP integration streamlines financial processes and reduces the potential for human error. Second, the tool should provide 100% visibility into all receipts across the company, creating a comprehensive audit trail and reducing the likelihood of discrepancies.
6. Insights and Forecasting:
To thrive in a rapidly changing business environment, a CFO must have a finger on the pulse of their company's finances. A 360-degree digital transformation solution offers complete real-time visibility into all company expenditures. This feature allows you to provide timely, data-driven insights and forecasts, enabling proactive decision-making.
7. Multi-Subsidiary Expense Tracking:
In the UAE, as businesses achieve a reasonable size, they often evolve into multi-subsidiary or multi-branch entities. Given this common trajectory, it's imperative that the chosen digital transformation tool supports multi-subsidiary expense tracking. This ensures that financial data from all parts of the organization is aggregated and analyzed effectively. Not only does it provide a holistic view of the company's financial health, but it also enables consistent monitoring and control of expenses across the entire organization.
To illustrate the power of these digital transformation features, let's look at real-life business examples from the UAE:
1. Dubai Blockchain Mandate: Dubai is on a mission to become the world's inaugural blockchain-powered city. The Dubai Blockchain Mandate, led by the Smart Dubai Office, lays out a clear path for integrating blockchain technology across the city. By embracing blockchain technology, Dubai has the potential to realize annual savings of 5.5 billion dirhams in document processing alone, equivalent to the value of one Burj Khalifa every year.
2. Dubai Government Services: The government is committed to digitizing its services, the rate of which in 2023 stands at 99.5%. Currently, 87% of all government service transactions are digital. Furthermore, the government has also developed over 100 smartphone apps with cybersecurity and data law compliance.
The digital transformation process is an ongoing journey that entails mobilising the entire workforce and instilling a change-oriented mindset with no pre-defined endpoint that might extend well beyond your current leadership. It serves as the fundamental framework for an organisation's survival in an era marked by disruptions. Achieving success in this context involves formulating a strategy around making purposeful investments in the digital realm. It requires the prudent allocation of resources toward innovative technologies that can drive the organisation's strategic initiatives.
Ultimately, the successful execution of digital transformation mandates the ability to communicate to stakeholders that every digital initiative undertaken is a deliberate move to enhance the organisation's prospects for sustained success.
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