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Spendesk keeps people accountable, without finance having to chase them.

November Five is a digital transformation agency. Its teams help clients achieve meaningful business impact that lasts, enabled by digitally inspired thinking, collaboration and agile engineering. Clients include Spotify, Coca-Cola and Le Pain Quotidien.









Ralph Van Tongelen, Finance Director


November Five digitalized their spend management with Spendesk

Previously, November Five’s reliance on manual spend processes caused their finance team to be in a constant state of overload. Spendesk’s all-in-one spend management solution enabled November Five to optimize and automate their entire finance system, from start to closing each month. 

Before Spendesk

Suffered from a lack of clear spend processes

Had countless subscriptions on one company card

Didn’t have an easy way for remote teams to make payments

The finance team was always seen as the ‘bad cop’

With Spendesk

Simple approval workflows to keep teams moving quickly

Recurring subscription cards, all managed from one interface

Smart payment tracking in real time

Finance team runs proactively and doesn’t need to chase employees for receipts

The need for a real spend management process

Like many companies, November Five’s finance processes hadn’t evolved to meet changing business practices and user expectations. Outdated, and burdensome for all involved, their processes were no longer fit for purpose in a digital world. 

“Before Spendesk, we didn't have a structured way to handle spending. We had the typical problems of multiple credit cards floating around, and dozens of subscriptions running. In some cases, no-one knew anymore who the owner of a subscription was, or even what it was used for. 

“At one point, we had a tool for expense reports and credit card statements, but it wasn’t very efficient. And most of the work still had to be done by the finance team. We had to follow up on each payment, and then synchronize it with our accounting system, which was a painfully slow process.

“We actually abandoned that tool and went back to doing everything on paper! Employees had to bring in their Excel sheet with their receipts, and then we processed it all manually because it gave us more control. 

“We’re a digital company and we want to automate everything to make things more efficient. But our spend processes were in overload and subscriptions were multiplying. Things were getting out of control. And that’s why we chose Spendesk."

A smarter way to manage subscriptions

As a modern, digital company, November Five relies on a wide range of tools to achieve the level of performance they aspire to. But managing all the subscription-related payments and invoices is no easy task. 

“A few years ago, somebody had the great idea to consolidate all our subscriptions on one Visa card. So every month, the total Visa bill was around €15,000-20,000. We used an Excel sheet to divide everything internally, but it was hard to get all the numbers to match up each month.

“We also had situations where someone would sign up for a free trial, fill in the required credit card details, but then forget to cancel. So these subscriptions were running and no-one knew where the invoices were or why we even needed the subscription in the first place.

“That was one of the main reasons we chose Spendesk. We now know exactly how many subscriptions we’re running, and whether we’re paying monthly or yearly. And because subscription cards are for a set amount, if the tool increases in price, Spendesk will block the next payment until it is validated, which is really great. 

“Overall, users pay much more attention to their particular subscriptions now. We all know who’s in charge of what, and Spendesk keeps people accountable, without finance having to chase them.”

Virtual cards for remote team members

Virtual cards are the best way to manage subscriptions. But they’re also perfect for one-off payments –- especially for distributed teams. 

“We’re still mostly working at home, so we don’t have those business lunches or business trips that we used to. So most of our employees are just using virtual cards for single purchases from home. They request one payment with one virtual card and they can fill in all the details themselves. 

“This offers a lot of flexibility. Even when a purchase is unplanned, they can just make a quick request and then pay straight away, wherever they are.”

Easier expense reconciliation

Reconciling payments every month used to be a labor-intensive chore. And despite trying other tools, paper processes still turned out to be the most efficient option. Until they found Spendesk. 

“Now reconciliation is a piece of cake. We have a custom file to import spend data into our accounting system. And the time we save on collecting receipts more than makes up for the little time it takes to upload it in our system.

“I think we easily save more than a week as a result. In fact, every quarter we’re saving at least two weeks. And that’s just the time we save in Finance. But if we think about the time it used to take people to actually carry out their purchases, or to hunt down the receipts we needed, then the time savings are even greater.  

“In the past, we would ask person A about a certain spend. They’d send us to person B, who would point to person C, who would send us right back to person A. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen anymore. 

“So actually, we’re saving a lot of time and money.”

Finance is no longer the ‘bad cop’

Beyond the practical aspects of executing and tracking payments, there’s another side effect that Ralph’s team loves.

“I think the biggest improvement is that we’re no longer ‘the bad guys from finance’. We used to always be the people complaining, nagging about missing receipts or unnecessary payments. 

“But now we're the heroes. We’re offering people easy-to-use payment instruments and flexibility, not to mention greater insights into their spending. All without us losing our control. 

“When we started with Spendesk, everyone was really excited that they could make their own payments and that they all got Visa cards. Which could be a worry. But actually, if they don’t upload the receipts or physical proof of their payment, Spendesk automatically blocks their account. 

“So that was great, because we weren't the bad guys anymore. The platform is designed like it is, and if you get blocked because you don't follow the rules, it's your own fault.”

A better system, ready to use right away

Improving outdated processes doesn’t need to take months. And November Five was able to get Spendesk up and running in no time. 

“What I really love about Spendesk is that you roll through the onboarding process. It’s frictionless. Communication with the Spendesk team feels very natural and we found them extremely helpful.

“You can ask your questions and they’ll try to find a solution for you, but it happens in such a natural flow. I love how fast we were able to get up to speed with Spendesk. It’s very ‘plug and play’, and I really like that.

“The platform and mobile app are also very well designed, and they’re highly intuitive. Currently I'm the only one who can approve purchases, so when I'm not at my desk, it’s great that I can just click on my smartphone and approve them.

“It makes my life a lot easier.”

I think the biggest improvement is that we’re no longer ‘the bad guys from finance’. We used to always be the people complaining, nagging about missing receipts or unnecessary payments. But now we're the heroes.

Ralph Van TongelenFinance Director

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