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About the Author
Fabian Calle is a General Manager, SMB & Nationals (A/NZ) at SAP Concur, where he’s spent the past decade. He has over 20 years of experience in software and technology, and has a true passion for small businesses. Previously, Fab was a small business owner and developed the first internationally recognized Ice Lounge in Melbourne, Victoria, from a start-up, to become an accepted member of Tourism Victoria. He established a franchise format for the business to enable best price at trade sale. Fab is also a previous winner of the National Commonwealth Small Business Award.

Top SMB company spend related challenges

SAP Concur Employee
SAP Concur Employee
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Managing company spend is important, especially to small and medium businesses (SMBs), because cashflow is key to driving profitable growth. In the age of big data, digital transformation, and automation, optimising spend management requires intelligent automation to provide companywide visibility across travel, expenses, and vendor (or supplier) spend.


Fabian Calle, General Manager, Small to Medium Business, ANZ, SAP Concur, said, “SMBs that fail to modernise their processes place themselves at high risk on many fronts, most notably through wasted time and spiralling indirect costs that can derail growth strategies and drain working capital.”


According to an AMI-Partners survey, the top time-related challenges facing SMBs are:

  1. Delayed reporting of expenses.
  2. Time wasted in expense audits.
  3. Time taken away from strategic work.
  4. Delayed approval cycles/reimbursement.[1]

The common thread in these challenges is that they all result in lost time and financial opportunities due to inefficient travel, expense, and vendor invoice management processes. Traditional methods such as spreadsheets or pen and paper for tracking and managing expenses and vendor invoices are inherently slow, cumbersome, and costly. This becomes more evident as businesses begin to grow beyond 50 employees. Manual travel, expense, and vendor invoice management impedes growth and scale because it requires finance and accounting teams to spend increasing amounts of time on managing spend as the firm grows.


The AMI-Partners study also looked more closely at the true costs of manual processes through the lens of the challenges firms faced prior to automating travel, expense, and invoice management. The study found that the costs can be categorised into three key areas:


  1. Visibility: when organisations can’t see real-time spending insights and gain knowledge needed to make well-informed business decisions, lack of visibility becomes a real cost to the business.
  2. Risk and compliance: to manage risk and compliance, all documentation needs to be completed properly and held to account. Manual processes make this challenging and introduce myriad opportunities for error.
  3. Time and financial: the cost of manual labour and time to process supporting documentation, which could have been used elsewhere, costs organisations both time and money. It can also mean businesses can’t leverage opportunities as they arise, which can stymie growth.[2]

An automated expense management system can help SMBs increase visibility into spending, reduce risk and increase compliance, speed up reimbursement submission and reporting, and reduce the overall time it takes to generate expense reports and audits. Automated expense systems can also streamline the process for managers and employees, reducing the time spent filing, copying, reviewing and approving expenditure.


Fabian Calle said, “As companies grow and their processes become more complex, they can find themselves missing out on opportunities for further growth because those processes don’t scale effectively to meet the needs of the larger organisation.

“Adopting a cloud-based, automated solution that saves time and scales to meet changing needs is absolutely essential for organisations that are serious about managing spend and cash flow strategically. These organisations will be better-placed for ongoing, sustainable growth. Furthermore, their valuable staff members will be able to contribute more meaningfully to business activities rather than spending time on manual, administrative tasks.”