How this CFO decided to reinvent his company’s expense management process

In business since 1977, Total Tool Supply, Inc., is a family-owned company that provides mechanical tools, services, and solutions to construction and industrial customs across North America.  Having 14 locations and a team of 235 employees within the United States, the company aims to bring the best products and services to those who build and maintain facilities and systems.

In order to achieve its goals, Total Tool relies on a sales and operations force that is located across the country and is usually on the road.

Who says “on the road”, says business trips and business expenses, of course. How much time would employees wait to get reimbursed? How much time would accountants spend processing every paper expense report?

To answer these questions and find out more about their challenge, we had the chance to speak to Paul Smejkal, Total Tool Supply’s CFO.

Paul Smejkal - Chief Financial Officer

It’s not just about managing expenses, but managing relationships.  It’s a completely different mindset.

The Challenge Of Total Tool

When Paul joined the company, more than two years ago, expense reporting was a manual Excel-based process.  “It was cumbersome. Receipts got lost. Things were not submitted in a timely fashion. It just wasn’t a good process.”

Employees would send in the expense reports in an envelope, the Accounts Payable team would gather all, put a category on them (or try to guess what category those expenses were referring to) and manually enter all the expenses in an Excel sheet.  Salespeople, in particular, used to spend a huge amount of time collecting receipts and “when it was still a paper-based system, no one wanted to do expenses because it was painful. Sometimes they’d save up two or three months’ worth of expenses because it was just a pain to do.”

When it was still a paper-based system, no one wanted to do expenses because it was painful. Sometimes they’d save up two and three months’ worth of expenses because it was just a pain to do.

That was the harsh reality but also the challenge for Paul. Because he was using another solution at his previous company, he already knew about the potential impact of expense management tools. It was time to re-evaluate what players on the market and make a decision.

The Solution

Before choosing a new solution, Paul did a little bit of research on different solutions and compared its features.  “When I saw the Rydoo application, I tested it myself. I found it to be much easier to use. Other tools like Concur try to wrap everything up across every possible scenario and we don’t need that.  We need employees to be able to submit expenses and do so quickly and efficiently.”

Paul uses Rydoo to submit his expenses, as well as to get insights into the company’s total expenditure.  He also uses it for financial reporting and now sales managers get a monthly summary of their employees’ expenses so they can track how much they are spending on various activities.  “The analytics functionality is so helpful for our managers. This has increased visibility and awareness of what their employees are actually spending on various activities, so they can intervene when necessary.”

The analytics functionality is so helpful for our managers.  This has increased the visibility and awareness of what their employees are actually spending on various activities, so they can intervene when necessary.

Not only CFO Paul and the managers are benefiting from the new process, but also the finance team, which have managed to eliminate one manual process. “Before about 80 people were sending paper expenses and we estimated that every paper expense report took us 20 to 25 minutes to process. Now, we just don’t have that. It just simply doesn’t exist. That’s pure savings from our standpoint.” Also, users used to spend 4 to 5 hours per month on expense reports and now they spend less than an hour.

Thanks to the data gathered in the platform, Paul now can re-adjust the expense policy and sales managers are able to give better directions to salespeople, which, as he told us: “Is actually very positive, because we’re all about our salespeople and supporting the sales process, but we also need to be smart about it in how we spend our dollars.”

The insights that come now to Paul, as the CFO, also help him from a higher level: “We set our plans and budget for the future.  We can now finally start to set some guidelines around how much we should be spending in certain expense categories. There was no guidance before.”

We can now finally start to set some guidelines around how much we should be spending in certain expense categories.

For the Accounts Payable team, it’s definitely faster now.  They don’t receive envelops full of receipts anymore and don’t’ have to manually enter expenses in an Excel sheet.  “We have the actual person that is incurring the expense categorizing it correctly and waiting for the sales manager to approve them.  Then, accountants go through and just make sure that we’re following the rules, like looking for duplicate expenses, which the system shows very clearly.  So it added to the accuracy of our financial information.”

Results

One of the biggest benefits for the team is not just the time saving or that they don’t have to keep the receipts anymore, but the fact that they are being reimbursed every week and not on a monthly basis anymore.

As Paul proudly confirms: “The Rydoo platform allows our people to do their expenses not just in real-time but also very quickly and accurately.  It gets them on a timely basis that we’re paying them on time as well. Now, every week, we reimburse people for their expense. It’s just a weekly cycle that we’re in and it’s perfect.”

One of the biggest benefits for the team is not just the time saving or that they don’t have to keep the receipts anymore, but the fact that they are being reimbursed every week and not on a monthly basis anymore.

We asked Paul about the feedback on Rydoo’s app among the employees and we were really happy to hear that “they’ve all expressed their appreciation for this change.”  In the end, “It’s not just about managing expenses, but managing relationships. It’s a completely different mindset,” as Paul stated.

Automation and digitalization of processes is not just a trend, but a different approach for your company.  Expectations for CFOs to start acting as digital mentors are rising, which Paul has understood very well.

There are no more excuses to ignore your company’s expense management processes. There are just plenty of reasons to start surfing the T&E wave. Sooner or later, things will have to change. Be ready. Be ahead.

Paul and Total Tool are already there.

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