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Functional Ownership of Travel Cards and Purchasing Cards

The organization that ultimately owns a work process provides clues for how the process is both managed and integrated.  While one size doesn’t fit all, there are lessons to be learned by better understanding the approaches of your peers.  For example, the use of a credit card product by employees to buy travel services, or purchase low dollar goods or services, is similar enough that some companies have combined the activities and use a “One Card” product that supports both types of purchases.

For some companies, the ownership decision is based on a historical alignment (i.e., it’s always been that way), where new processes and technologies might suggest that a different functional alignment would be preferred.  For others, the functional area that drove the implementation of a new design (e.g., implementing new expense reporting technologies or rolling out credit cards for low-dollar purchases) often continues to own the work process, even though the transfer of the process to another functional area might ultimately be the best outcome.

Recently, Peeriosity’s iPollingTM functionality was used to perform custom research in the Corporate Card research area to understand how companies approach the functional ownership decision for both Travel Cards and Purchasing Cards.  At 51% of member companies, Finance is ultimately responsible for the Travel Card program, with Procurement ultimately responsible at 14% of the companies.  Interestingly, 15% indicate that the ultimate functional responsibility is with either Travel Services or Business Services, both of which are outside of the normal definitions of functional alignment.  The balance of companies have the Travel Card program reporting to Treasury or somewhere else, or they don’t have a Travel Card program.  Here are the details:

When we look at ultimate responsibility for the Purchasing Card program, the results are similar with 51% assigning ultimate functional responsibility to Finance and 29% to Procurement.  At 10% of the companies, the process is co-owned between either Finance or Business Services and Procurement.  For the remaining companies, Treasury is ultimately responsible at 10%, while 5% of companies indicated that they don’t have a Purchasing Card program.

Here are a few of the comments from responding companies:

  • Our Travel Card Program is technically under governance of Travel Services and treated as being distinctly separate from Purchasing Cards.
  • Most employees are issued a company card that can be used for travel or procurement (called “low-value purchasing” or “LVP”). Finance (Shared Services AP) processes all card payments, and enlists a 3rd party for audit. The Procurement group is responsible for the LVP policy.
  • Travel Card program is managed by Business Services, which ultimately reports to the CFO. Our Purchasing Card program is jointly managed by Business Services for Card administration, and Procurement for policy administration and audit.
  • Purchasing Cards were historically managed within the Finance organization.  Ownership for Purchasing Cards was recently moved to Global Procurement.
  • Both programs are administered by Finance, however, because Purchasing Card has a Procurement policy component, ownership is ultimately a shared responsibility.

What functional area at your company has ultimate responsibility for administration of your Travel Card and Purchasing Card programs?  How was the decision made, and when was a change to functional alignment last considered? 

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

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 “iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to 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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