3 Expense Management Questions From The Nordics

4 minutes reading time

Scandinavia

Despite an all-time high in the global usage of digital tools, digitisation precursors such as Sweden, Norway, and Iceland appear reluctant to upgrade outdated expense management solutions. And yet, the demand for better tools and for mentalities and leadership to evolve is real, driven by the new reality of these past few months.

Organisations worldwide are making pandemic-driven home working into a permanent accommodation. While you may believe that having an IT solution puts you ahead of the curb, if it is not up to date then it may well be costing you money. Here are three common questions we hear from organisations in the Nordics, and our answers to them.

1. "Why now?"

"We already have an expense management tool, why should we get a new one now?"

Outdated solutions have lower efficiency and seldom offer any mobility to their users. They also usually do not bring you any spend visibility or force you to create and endlessly update excel sheets to obtain a semblance of business intelligence. And the risk of fraud and error is much higher with older solutions.

Modern solutions not only increase your employees’ productivity and provide you with better spend visibility, they also eliminate the risk posed by human error and fraud while increasing employee happiness.

Up to date expense management also comes with the added benefit of being compatible with your other IT tools such as your ERP, accounting system or HR tool. These integrations vastly improve your workflow, increasing the quality of the output data as well as overall productivity.

2. "What about paper receipts?"

"We can’t throw receipts away in my country, why do we need a paperless solution?"

While certain countries such as Sweden do not allow fully paperless expense processes due the obligation of keeping physical receipts for tax purposes, using a modern “paperless-enabled” solution is still a time saver.

When users can quickly take a picture of a receipt with their smartphone and have an expense auto-created for them, it reduces the time they spend on low-value tasks. It also increases the quality and accuracy of the data that is input, because Optical Character Recognition does not make typos.

Furthermore, controllers also see their workload reduced due to the aforementioned improved data quality. Not only that, but intelligent sampling and controlling tools such as SpendController saves them up to 90% of the time they spend controlling expenses. Leaving them free to spend more time on higher added value tasks and controlling only exceptions.

So while paper receipts may not be a thing of the past in some countries, the time and efficiency gains of a modern, mobile solution are considerable and worth the short term investment.

3. "And if we're not travelling?"

"People aren't travelling at the moment; why do we need to manage expenses?"

Expense management solutions are not just for travellers, they also support your remote employees. Home office purchases have soared since the beginning of the year and many companies are making other accommodations for people who continue to work remotely.

The use of digital solutions such as videoconferencing has increased in all industries, and employees may need different tools when working remotely leading to a change in your expense category landscape. IT solutions across the board are growing, and outdated solutions simply will not be able to keep up with all the new integrations that will be required.

The time to introduce a modern expense solution therefore is now, for two reasons.

The first reason is precisely that people are not traveling as much. Meaning now is the time to implement a tool related to travel and expenses, before it is needed, so as to create minimal disruption. Switching over from one tool to another when people need it is a much more complex endeavour. And one that you can easily avoid by making the change sooner, rather than later.

The second reason is that domestic and regional travel by car and rail is picking up again. We have seen a clear uptick in the number of rail-related expenses and mileages being submitted through our application. As restrictions start to lift, so will travel slowly start increasing. Even if they do not come near their levels of nine months ago, travel expenses will start trickling in again, possibly through new vendors, and you need to be ready.

Using an expense solution, whichever it may be, is certainly an improvement over excel sheets. But the cost of using an outdated solution, especially in a mature IT market such as the Nordics, may be inhibiting you from making strategic savings. It may also be getting in the way of improving your workflow at various levels, thus negatively impacting efficiency and productivity in your organisation.

As such, the question should really be "why not update your expense management system?".

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Posted on 21 May 2021