LloydsDirect revamped its entire spending structure with Spendesk
Before Spendesk, LloydsDirect relied on outdated spend management options, causing unnecessary headaches in finance. In addition to automating their accounting processes, they needed a solution that employees could access while out and about, as well as use to make quicker online purchases securely. With Spendesk’s all-in-one platform, LloydsDirect discovered how to simultaneously resolve their issues with expenses, online subscriptions and spending, and credit cards.
Different spending processes causing undue admin work
Tracking subscription payments made with credit cards
Slow and hard-to-track month-end reconciliation
New difficulties with remote work transition due to Covid-19
One spend management solution for all key expenditure
Easy subscription management and payments with virtual credit cards
Much faster end-of-month reconciliation with native Xero integration
Employees receive from-home allowances using tracked Spendesk cards
A complete spending upgrade
Finance Director Connie Cha came to Echo with the goal of improving finance processes. “I joined Echo in May 2020 as part of a really small team. We were relying on a lot of manual legwork. One very hard-working individual in the AP team was dealing with employee expenses and subscriptions, and reconciling credit cards around the business. I quickly realized that that wasn't a great use of her time, and we started looking for a solution.”
Like many companies large and small, Echo was relying on the classic spend management options. And these were creating unnecessary headaches.
“I was really looking for something that employees could use while out and about. Or, in this virtual world, to make online purchases quicker. But then we realised that Spendesk is so much broader. We could fix issues with expenses, online subscriptions and spending, and credit cards at once.”
“In fact, I never thought we'd find something as comprehensive as Spendesk.” As you’ll see below, having all spending in one tool makes a huge difference at the end of the month.
A solution that scales with the business
Echo is growing incredibly quickly. As Finance Manager Greg Stoddart explains, “our annual revenue has grown 800% since I joined last year. And our transaction colume has moved in line with that. If we were doing things the way we used to, we would have had to hire several other people to deal with those processes and pay invoices on time.
“Instead, those processes that used to be manual are now fully automated, and take so much less time. And we’re spending 80% less human time in the finance team managing all these new transactions.
“So while the volume has gone up significantly, we’re actually saving a lot more time at month’s end. And we haven’t had to hire anyone to perform manual tasks.”
Subscription payments reconciled immediately in Xero
Subscription payments are a common chore for finance teams. They’re hard to track, can often surprise you, and add unexpected admin at the end of the month. As Connie explains:
“We're a digital business. So our tech stack is highly reliant on providers like Google or AWS, on monthly subscriptions. They were all on a credit card for which the statement would come by paper every month, and a member of my team would have to reconcile that. They would enter the invoices gathered from all the different team members into a central inbox, and reconcile that credit card statement with the individual invoices.”
“You've got three data points there: the entry into Xero, the invoice coming from an individual, and then also the Barclays credit card statement. So that's quite a big exercise. And for quite a small amount of spend actually.”
“So being able to have a sort of hub for all of those recurring costs is amazing. Spendesk eliminates a lot of those steps, which has been really helpful.”
“We've moved away from that particular credit card, and now everything's pulled through automatically into Xero, which is fab. Nothing goes in without an invoice, and Spendesk automatically chases people who haven't attached their receipts in time. “
A successful integration of Xero & Spendesk
It’s vital that your payment methods and accounting tools speak to one another. Spendesk’s native Xero integration means that every card payment and expense claim matches up neatly with your ledgers.
“The first big change is that it’s actually given us more control over Xero,” says Connie. “Previously, we had some expense categories set up in Xero, and would try to make our spending fit into these. Sort of top-down, with finance setting the terms.
“But it’s so easy to create and assign categories in Spendesk, that we’ve actually been able to update our P&L model in response to those. We've been able to get a lot more granular in terms of our budgeting and forecasting Rather than having a single line item in Xero for ‘team expenses,’ we've actually been able to carve it up by team member and by employee, and the team they sit in.
“And that gives a lot more visibility to the team heads and to me, to see where we're over budget. Plus, the reporting in Xero is great, but the reporting in Spendesk is also really good. And because people are familiar with Spendesk and not so with Xero, they're more comfortable running those reports themselves.”
“The integration is as close to flawless as I could imagine,” says Greg. “Every transaction we have in Spendesk is immediately available in Xero, which means we can double-check payments whenever we like.”
A much faster close process
Great integrations and automation should hopefully translate to time saved at month end. And according to Greg, that’s exactly what’s happened.
“The speed with which a payment moves from Spendesk to Xero makes the month-end close simple. There’s no lag - we don’t have to clear everything before a certain date to make sure it’s accounted for.
“It’s real time and instant, which is hugely helpful”
“And the biggest impact is that we can wait for the receipt or invoice to be attached before we account for it. And we don’t have to wait for these - Spendesk chases people for us.
“That’s the key reason we moved away from the credit cards we had in the past. This way, all spend is supported by a receipt or invoice by default. And any ‘unreceipted’ payment gets chased and reconciled by Spendesk."
A more effective reconciliation process overall
As explained above, the reconciliation process at Echo used to take time. With different data sources and missing receipts, the end of the month brought a lot of admin for the finance team.
And Echo still takes reconciliation seriously and invests time. Only now, this time goes into deeper reporting and lets the company continuously improve its spending.
“I've taken the view that I would like to have it as granular as possible,” says Connie. “So I think for that reason the team probably takes more time to code things. But equally, the memory, the muscle that Spendesk has means that you can create the same kind of expenses from that particular individual for that vendor. So over time it’s a big saving.
“I would never have asked our Finance Analyst to do all that before - it would have just been horrible. It would have been like a complete transposition of PDF tables into Excel, and then running it by all the people who had spent that month.
“Instead Spendesk does all of that. We’re essentially reconciling in real time.”
Expense claims & work-from-home allowances
A lot changed for businesses in 2020. Echo has warehouses to run, and that brought some ‘very 2020’ challenges, as Connie explains.
“We moved warehouses. And in doing that, we had two people on the ground who had to make everything Covid-safe. Which meant a lot of purchases either from Amazon or out and about.”
“They were able to do this with their personal cards and then reclaim them immediately through Spendesk. So that was really neat.”
Connie joined Echo during the Covid crisis, and has been able to set up smarter spending processes while remote.
“We also tried to give everyone who works remotely now ‘working from home’ allowances. The easiest way is just to give them allowances inside of Spendesk that don’t require a manager’s approval. They could go and spend up to those limits and get a desk set up, or another screen. or any kind of work from home equipment that they needed.”
A happy partnership with Spendesk
Setting up new tools and processes is always a daunting task. And Connie’s team isn’t built to handle complex IT. “Neither myself nor the team at the time had a lot of experience in technology. So we needed to get up and running without too many technical hurdles.”
“Lisa - our account manager at Spendesk - was really great. She also brought in a product specialist and they were able to help us really figure it out. They walked us through the platform and pointed out all the parts that we really needed to know.”
“We had Spendesk running at top speed in no time. The customer service is phenomenal.”