Boost your productivity and your bottom line with proven strategies to control, track, and gain greater insights into spend
Whether you develop cutting-edge software, provide a unique service, or manufacture widgets, finances are the lifeblood of your company. But managing every dollar coming in and going out of your business can be a major undertaking—one that distracts from your core capabilities.
For veterans and novices in the accounting field, it’s never a bad idea to brush up on ways to streamline and organize your corporate finances.
With that in mind, here are some top tips to consider for improved spend management, expense tracking, budgeting, forecasting, and more.
Master the basics of spend management.
Spend management is the ongoing process of overseeing and optimizing the way your company expends capital. For most businesses, expenses can originate from any department or employee—but eventually, it falls on the shoulders of your finance team to organize and reconcile transactions.
A holistic spend management plan is critical to improving your operating efficiency, enabling growth, reducing risk, and even attracting investors.
Fundamental ways to make sure your spend is managed wisely:
- Keep business and personal finances separate.This may seem elementary, but you’d be surprised how many businesses (especially startups) mix corporate and private spending, which inevitably complicates accounting.
- Open the right accounts for your cash flow needs—and use them effectively.This may seem elementary, but you’d be surprised how many businesses (especially startups) mix corporate and private spending, which inevitably complicates accounting.
- Stay organized.Good bookkeeping habits have a tendency to catch small issues before they blow up into major problems. We’ll cover more specific ways to record and organize expenses in the next section.
- Create a budget, and stick to it.Knowing where every dollar is going will help later with budget planning, taxes, and overall business strategy.
Get granular with expense tracking.
How much did your company spend on meals last year? How about technology upgrades? An accurate, efficient system for tracking expenses across departments, budgets, and cost centers can help you understand where your company is managing capital effectively and where there’s room for improvement, so you can make more precise budgeting decisions.
Being organized with your business expenses also makes your life easier come tax time, since qualified deductions are already documented in one place. Successful expense tracking often comes down to the tools you use—and how well you use them. Be sure you’re covering the following bases:
Choose the right tools.
If you’re a one-person accounting department, and you like doing tasks by hand, you could opt for a traditional spreadsheet. If you do, search for an expense-tracking template that allows you to record and label each expense clearly and effectively.
That said, we find that most companies—especially fast-growing ones—need a slightly more sophisticated method like cloud-based accounting. There are many software solutions on the market, with the most common being QuickBooks, Oracle NetSuite, Xero, Wave, and FreshBooks.
To make things even easier, modern spend and cash management platforms like Rho sync to these tools directly, so tasks like recording and categorizing incoming bills and all outgoing payments are automatically integrated and reconciled with your accounting solutions.
Tagging each expense with a category is an essential step, whether you’re tracking spend manually or via a program. In addition to enabling more precise reporting, this helps you distinguish between expenses and assets, which are treated differently for tax purposes.
You can start with standard categories like rent, utilities, supplies, wages, and fees, or you can create your own customized categories based on expenses common to your industry.
Save receipts and tax documents.
Consistent record keeping ensures you’re prepared in the event of an audit. The rule of thumb is to save receipts and other tax documents for seven years, just in case the IRS or auditor requests proof of a business expense.
One option is to keep a physical folder of printed receipts for each fiscal year. But most accounting teams these days are working remotely or are too busy to be sorting through proliferating sheets of paper.
The best option is to digitize your receipts and store them on your accounting platform or a dedicated spend management solution. Solutions like the Rho Card offer digital receipt uploads for card transactions to help organize receipts for you, so they become one less thing to worry about.
Use a business credit card to streamline spend.
Most companies use many different forms of payment, including checks, ACH, wire transfers, credit cards, and cash. And, while convenient, this approach increases the time it takes to track down and report every expense.
One way to simplify the process is to use your business credit card as your primary payment method. With Rho's corporate card, not only can you consolidate expense tracking efforts and earn lucrative cash back rewards, but you can also create unique physical or virtual cards for specific purposes. This strategy allows you to control and segment spend—by vendor, ad channel, AP, and more—and tie each card to a budget for instant, automatic categorization of transactions that also sync directly to your accounting.
Extract insights from reporting, budgeting, and forecasting.
Once you have your spend and tracking under control, you’re ready for the next level of managing finances—reporting, budgeting, and forecasting.
While these activities are similar, each carries a distinct purpose:
- Reporting takes the financial data you have available—like revenue and expenses—and analyzes it to provide a high-level insights view of your business that helps you make critical decisions moving forward. Outputs in this category could include cash flow reports, expense reports, profit/loss statements, and estimated revenue.
- Budgeting outlines what your business plans on spending over a given time period and how much should be allocated to specific expense channels. Determining a budget helps to know how much you typically spend on fixed, variable, and unexpected costs quarter over quarter. You can manage budgets with a spreadsheet template (which typically requires manual entry and constant calculation updating) or leverage software to help streamline your budgets.
- Forecasting estimates your business’s financial health based on historical data. Whereas a budget establishes what you want to achieve, forecasting tells you if you’re on track to meet your goals. Forecasts can be used for short- or long-term planning and should be evaluated more frequently than budgets to account for changing market conditions.
With Rho’s built-in budgeting capabilities you can easily create budgets, automatically classify transitions across your cost centers, and gain real-time visibility into company-wide spend habits.
Manage your finances in one place.
Corporate finances are complicated, with many moving parts to account for and many team members involved at every turn. It’s a good idea to consolidate your tasks, documents, and entities on a single platform, so you can streamline workflows and oversee every task from end to end.
Consider an all-in-one financial solution like Rho that works as a virtual command center for company-wide finances. Everything you need is instantly accessible on a centralized dashboard, so your team can view balances, make payments, and track expenses in real time—all with solid, built-in controls.
Rho brings financial solutions together in one intuitive platform, including:
- Commercial banking software to safely manage deposits and spend across cost centers
- Integrated AP that syncs with accounting for easy, instant reconciliation
- Smart corporate cards with higher limits and flexible payment terms
- Fee-free global payments including industry-leading FX rates
We’ve barely scratched the surface of everything Rho has to share on the value of effective financial planning. We’re all about making workflows faster, simpler, and more productive for you and your finance team.
If you want to learn more, reach out. Our experts are always on hand to share further insights into our solutions—including a full tour of our innovative financial suite.
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