“Thanks to the efficiencies gained by the platform, Rho has allowed me to delay an expensive NetSuite upgrade and a senior accounting hire by at least a year."
What is Native Strategies?
Based in Oklahoma, Native Strategies is a civil engineering firm that works closely with tribal, federal, state, and municipal governments to design roads, bridges, community centers, and other critical infrastructure for local communities. Launched in early 2021 at the height of the pandemic, Native Strategies has since grown its revenue and employee base as a result of rising project demand from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, and more than 15 tribes across the United States.
Starting in January 2021, the Native Strategies team grew to 10 employees by November, coming at a much-needed time. That November, President Biden signed the $1 trillion dollar infrastructure bill that provided an opportunity for civil engineering firms like Native Strategies, an ISBEE (Indian Small Business Economic Enterprise) & NAOB (Native American Owned Business), to take a leadership role in translating this historic investment into state-of-the-art infrastructure in support of local communities. As business picked up and the firm planned to scale going into 2022, it quickly became clear to CFO Tyler Majors that the finance processes that had supported their growth up to that point would need an upgrade.
“When we hired our tenth employee in 2021, we were managing our expenses and corporate card program via Excel,” Majors said. “As the sole finance team member, this meant a lot of my time was spent manually entering data into QuickBooks: reviewing the information, coding values, and reconciling all of these transactions.” However, reconciliation wasn’t the only challenge.
Entering 2022, Native Strategies planned to double in size by the end of the year. Due to heightened demand for the firm’s services and stellar reviews, the firm ended up tripling in size, moving to more than 25 employees. “We have employees traveling across the country completing tasks for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other important institutional partners; in other words, we needed a more robust solution that made it easy for our remote workforce to manage their expenses without adding any additional workloads on finance when it came to month-end.
As a veteran CFO, Majors had previous experience with various spend management systems but they often came with two major problems: A poor, inflexible user experience for finance teams and employees, and costly fees.
“I’ve used Concur for years and hated it,” Majors said. “The back-end made it harder for my finance teams to do their job – and the integration into the ERP was a nightmare. While Expensify addressed some of these problems, they are also quite expensive.” That’s when Majors discovered Rho.
Tripling in size in less than a year, Native Strategies quickly outgrew the Excel template used to manage its corporate card program and expenses. They needed to implement a new spend management platform that saves the CFO and employees time and money, integrates with QuickBooks Online, and scales as the firm grows.
The Rho platform improves Native Strategies spend management in three ways:
- Streamline expenses: Native Strategies employees love using the Rho Card and Rho Mobile App to pay for and report expenses, eliminating costly month-end delays for the finance team.
- Automate accounting: Rho’s QuickBooks Online integration turned an hours-long reconciliation process for the CFO into a 15-minute exercise. A bonus: Rho delayed any need for the firm to upgrade to NetSuite and to hire its first senior accountant by a full year.
- Manage reimbursements: With Rho, employees can easily submit reimbursement requests for company-funded cell phone bills, internet costs, and gym memberships, creating a delightful user spend management experience for its fully-remote teams.
Majors had several important requirements for their new spend management system.
First, the solution had to come at no extra cost to the business given the firm’s size, eliminating SAP Concur and Expensify from contention. The latter solution also lacked banking capabilities, meaning Majors would have to cobble together several offerings just to run their finances if he chose to move forward with Expensify – the second issue he wanted to avoid.
Next, as Native Strategies embarks on its next stage of growth, an important efficiency metric is limiting the number of touchpoints employees have with each transaction. “Our employees are busy managing critical infrastructure work around the country; the last thing we want is for them to have to process a large envelope of receipts at the end of the month,” Majors said. “We want to give them the tools to easily handle these expenses as soon as they get back to the hotel. It makes my life in finance easier too.”
After evaluating his options, Majors elected to move forward with Rho to run the company’s expenses and reconciliation processes.
“As a time-strapped CFO, I needed the implementation and return on time investment to be fast,” Majors said. “I invested less than five hours of set-up time for a system that has since saved me 40 hours every month. From the get-go, I could tell how much the Rho team was invested in what we do at Native Strategies and how much they cared about making our jobs easier so we can support our firm’s growth. With Rho, I save time and our front-line team saves time – all at no additional cost to the business.”
During onboarding, Majors found organizational adoption easy thanks to Rho’s ease of use. “I issued physical and virtual cards to early employees and newer joiners with straightforward instructions: ‘Use this and tell me what you think.’ The response from our employees was overwhelmingly positive,” Majors said. “We wanted our expense management process to feel like an extension of our employees vs. something else they had to worry about – and Rho delivered.”
After tripling in size last year, Native Strategies is laser-focused on continuing this momentum in 2023. With Rho, adding more employees no longer presents any added strain on the company’s spend management and accounting processes.
From issuing cards to new joiners and submitting receipts through the Rho Mobile app to the back-end work Majors no longer has to manage thanks to Rho’s automation and QuickBooks Online integration, the platform is designed to scale alongside the firm as it grows its business.
“When we win new projects, we have to add the work into 3-4 systems that we use to facilitate our work,” Majors said. “Rho is by far the easiest. You can see how much time they put into designing the platform to scale with middle-market companies like Native Strategies.”
Today, Native Strategies efficiently manages all employee expenses with Rho – from Rho Card purchasing & Rho Mobile App expense receipt uploads to a real-time ledger sync via Rho’s QuickBooks Online integration.