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Automation Opportunities for Purchasing Card Processing

Introduced 30 years ago, and achieving widespread acceptance during the past decade, purchasing cards have become commonplace as a method to reduce the cost and complexity associated with purchasing low price expense items.  While the impact of reducing processing costs has been significant, for many companies the purchasing card process is years behind the travel expense process when it comes to having a high degree of automation with streamlined and simplified processes for cardholders.

Using iPollingTM a Peeriosity member recently launched a research effort to understand the level of purchasing card automation used by companies and to gain insight regarding which automation approaches were the most significant contributors to reducing cardholder effort. The results suggest that while most companies have made significant progress, all but 5% have meaningful opportunities available to further reduce cardholder effort, with 20% of the companies having significant opportunities available.

ipolling results on the best description on the level of automation in the company for purchasing card process

When comparing purchasing card automation opportunities, 40% identified “electronic submission of receipts” as the most important, with 20% selecting “pre-population and submission of expense reports”.  Here are the details:

Ipolling results opinion on the most important aspect of purchasing card process automationng Card Processing

 Below are several of the comments members added to their response selections:

·        For purchasing cards, we have automated the interface between the card provider and SAP for posting entries monthly. We use an imaging system to capture receipts and match the receipts to statements on a monthly basis by the cardholder. We have robust reporting details provided by our card provider; however, the cardholder still has to manually scan each invoice and manually reconcile receipts to the statement, and the approving managers have to deal with a large number of expense details as a part of the approval process.

·        We’re looking to reduce the effort of our employees to use a purchasing card.  Automatic general ledger coding based on the vendor merchant category codes, setting a $25 receipt requirement for submission, and electronic scanning of receipts are our first priorities.

·        We have challenges where the use of purchasing cards is embedded in a business process and gathering and submitting the receipts for reconciliation can be problematic. Often, the expense is passed through at a loan level, but the card still needs to be reconciled for payment of a high volume of low-dollar expenses.

·        Automation is an essential benefit, however, our greatest benefit is the savings in resources and time to manage vendors by eliminating purchase orders for one-time or infrequently purchased goods.

·        We are moving our purchasing card statements to Concur.

·        Our purchasing card process is completely manual on the cardholder side, and the only automated piece is the online card application and maintenance process with the bank. We are working towards either running the purchasing card program through Concur (currently used for travel expense reports) or implementing a one-card program and running that through Concur.

Is your purchasing card program broadly subscribed to with a high level of penetration for targeted transactions?  If not, what impact might be possible if the additional effort was focused on reducing cardholder effort?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


 “iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated e-mail system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participate in iPolling.


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