By Anwuli Chukwurah

The steps you need to take to transform your bill and spend management from a chaotic mess that controls you.

The team knows that their current process of managing their bills is wrong, but they’re so overwhelmed that they don’t know where to start. It’s better for such a team to continue with the wrong process than to try to change. Something or someone has to come in and be that element of change. The current team can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. They know that things need to get done regardless of how convoluted the process is.

So, what can you do to transform your bill and spending management? Below are steps you can take to start to take control of your spending management. A complete overhaul will take months but at least you can start to have quick wins to help keep the team morale up and start to break the cycle of torment.

1. Current Process

a. Carve out the time

b. Document the current process with the team member responsible for each task

c. Remove redundant and unnecessary steps in the current process

d. Implement updated process

2. Update Process with Automation

a. Implement software to automate the majority of the tasks

b. Softwaretraining
c. Update process document

3. Embed the new process into the company culture.

Current Process

You can’t fix anything if you don’t know what you’re currently doing. So, the first step to take when transforming your process is to document it. Make sure to tag which team member does what in each step. This is a painstaking process; you must carve out the time to do this as a team. Blindly choosing any software and implementing something new can be a deterrent to giving your team the needed breathing room. The inertia of doing the current process will make it hard to find the time to document it, but you can’t skip this step.

By documenting your current process task by task, you can clearly see what redundant and unnecessary steps can be removed. The team will be able to see and question why they’ve been doing something one way instead of a more optimized way. Once all unnecessary steps have been removed, have the team try it out and see if it works. This is taking the tiny steps needed to find the right software in the future. Implementing a software on a crappy process will produce crappy and unsatisfactory results.

Update Process with Automation

Once you have figured out your new updated manual process, you can start looking at which tasks can be automated via technology such as Ramp or an industry-specific one. You won’t know what to use unless you’ve done the previous step and looked at your company’s technological needs as a whole. You can use software to help you remove the need to give employees direct access to the bank account or debit card to pay bills. Along with this new software, it’s imperative to have adequate software training to make sure the team is comfortable with the technology. If the team isn’t using the software, then what’s the point?

You can use software to schedule out payments, process the bills, pay vendors via ACH or check, collect all necessary vendor information, and automate the necessary approval workflows. If one of the changes you’re making to your process is to have standard payment days, make sure to alert your vendors and contractors of what days you process payments. This way, if they don’t get their bills to you in time, they’ll have to wait until the next round of payment processing. You control the bill processing, not the other way around. It also puts the onus on the vendors to make sure they’re on time and gives them the confidence to know the days they’ll always get paid.

Embed the New Process into Company Culture

Embedding this new process and software into the company culture will take the concerted effort of the team leading it. You’ll need to gradually remove avenues to the old process and forward all requests and needs toward the new process and software. Everything related to spending and bill management should be in one control center. Everyone in the company should automatically think of this software when they need to spend money. You’ll know you’ve succeeded when random team members come up to you and are excited about doing something in the software — “I finally used the reimbursement feature, and it was so cool!” or “Omg, I can’t believe how easy it was for me to increase my spend limit.”

I believe any new process should be easy and comfortable for the team. It shouldn’t be as cumbersome as your old one. If your team has more stress on top of their old stress, then you know you messed up. Implementing this new process can take up to 6 months to 1 year. Try not to rush your team; take time for each new step. Remember, people don’t like change. But, if you can show how much time they can save and any other benefits, they’ll slowly use the new process. Unless your team is so fed up and grasping for something to save them, you may have an easier time.

About the author:

Anwuli Chukwurah is a versatile finance professional with a track record of starting new finance organizations and scaling them for growth in fast-paced entrepreneurial environments. She has over 6+ years of experience working with small business owners, startups, and nonprofit organizations to help connect finance with their business goals. She aims to ensure her clients become comfortable and adept at navigating their numbers. She works with clients
at Woolichooks and writes a newsletter for non-finance folks. 

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