So you’ve chosen to implement a corporate card program in your company.
Whatever your reasons, changing your payment method or adding a new one means transformation.
And as with any transformation, a positive one relies on effective project management:
- Process planning
- Transversal coordination
- Communication with all parties to promote the adoption of the new means of payment
The best way to approach the adoption of a corporate card is to consider its implementation as a project, with all the organizational efforts that implies. Fortunately, your corporate card provider will be present throughout the process of implementing the new payment method and will guide you towards success.
Here is a guide to setting up a corporate card program.
It will not replace the support of your card provider, but it will help you prepare your corporate card program and avoid common mistakes.
It consists of three main phases:
- Program design
- Implementation of corporate cards and training of involved parties
- Monitoring and evaluation of the success of the implementation
Phase 1. Design of the corporate card program and choice of service provider
Preparing the corporate card program
The implementation of the corporate card program is necessarily preceded by a design phase.
The design must be based on your needs analysis and your spending policies:
- How many cards do you need?
- Who will benefit from them?
- What transaction volume needs must be met?
The objective of this step is to highlight potential frictions during the implementation of corporate cards.
Based on this design, determine the relevant indicators to measure and monitor the success of the program. The best KPIs are measurable and objective, but some elements will require a qualitative approach (e.g. assessing the quality of training received by employees).
Choosing a corporate card provider
You are now ready to put together your RFP to choose the provider to award your corporate card contract.
In your RFP, you can define:
-The needs of the company
-Supplier evaluation criteria
Namely: it is not enough to choose a corporate card provider, as you also need to make sure that your application meets the eligibility requirements of that provider.
In other words: the company issuing the RFP must meet certain criteria, which vary from one provider to another.
The eligibility conditions for most of them correspond to a minimum travel budget or a minimum number of cards.
Depending on the service providers, other steps may be taken:
- Evaluation of your solvency,e. your reputation in terms of credit.
- Audit of company finances
First steps with your corporate card provider
Once you have chosen your provider, it's time to negotiate the corporate card program.
Negotiation can be based on different elements:
- Tariff conditions
- Delayed Debit Delay
- Expenditure ceilings
- The conditions for spending abroad
- Ancillary services, such as travel insurance coverage and assistance
One of the last questions to be answered during the design phase is the choice of the account for the corporate card:
- Does the payment card need to be linked to the company account, in which case the responsibility for the transactions lies with the company
- Or should it debit the employee's account, passing the responsibility for transactions to employees (individual responsibility)?
Debiting the business account frees the employee from business expense advances and expense reports and provides richer data to the company. But some companies still prefer to let employees take responsibility for their transactions for liability reasons.
The program design phase ends with the issuance and signature of contracts with the card provider and cardholders.
Phase 2. Effective implementation of corporate cards and training of cardholders
A communication campaign should inform all future cardholders.
- Inform employees who travel for business
- Implement the program
- Train in the use of new payment methods
We recommend that you choose a person in charge of the communication strategy. This person will be responsible for communication and will lead it from start to finish.
One of the tasks is to prepare the materials needed to communicate about the corporate card program. Consideration should also be given to the distribution of these materials throughout the company. All departments must be involved in this internal communication campaign.
The effective implementation of the corporate card program is done with the support of your service provider:
- The service provider provides the cards.
- It also helps you integrate card data flows into corporate ERP systems and paperless expense claim management tools.
- It helps you configure corporate cards: monitoring of expenses and consolidated views, management of ceilings and authorized suppliers.
The deployment of the communication strategy continues in parallel with this implementation. Each stage of the implementation involves a set of instructions to be provided.
Cardholders must be informed of the conditions for receiving their cards, for instance. Where will they receive them? What is the procedure for choosing a PIN? Will the receive a letter or will it all be online?
The main challenge after the receipt and implementation of the corporate cards is the training of stakeholders.
By stakeholders we mean not only the users of the corporate cards, but also all managers, travel managers and other employees who are involved in the expense management process.
The quality of training and facilitation of the adoption of new payment methods is a key factor in the success or failure of a corporate card program.
On the one hand, it is necessary to provide all the necessary information about the operation, rules and practices, but also to facilitate the understanding and memorization of this information.
In most cases, the training material takes the form of a guide, provided with a contact person to reach assistance in case of questions.
The training should address the following points:
On the user side:
- Initial configuration of the corporate card: activation of transaction monitoring and notification alerts.
- Learn how to find credit card information: know when a limit is reached, track business expenses in real time, know how much credit is available, etc.
- Present the authorized uses of the card: proper expenses, limits, accepted suppliers, etc. For example, staff members may only be allowed to use their card for business travel.
- Inform about the rates and possible commissions related to the use of the card (without forgetting the case of cash withdrawals).
- Inform about time limits for debits, especially if the user's personal account is linked to the corporate card.
- Know how to request or edit expense reports from expense statements
- Provide security advice as well as a support number in case of loss, theft, declined transaction, etc.
On the management side:
- Learn how to set up corporate cards: definition of travel expense limits and transaction rules in line with your travel policy (geographical areas, limits and types of authorized merchants, authorized or unauthorized cash withdrawals, etc.).
- Know how to manage the risk of fraud.
- Train on changes in expense management procedures: review the management of expense reports after automatic integration of corporate card data, possibly reviewing reporting procedures, etc.
Phase 3. Monitor, control and improve the corporate card program
During the first few months after implementation, the role of the people in charge of the corporate card program will mainly consist of answering employees' questions:
- Practical questions from users on business trips
- Technical questions from managers on new purchasing, reporting or expense report processes
Beyond mere answers, assistance should be provided for all stakeholders.
It’s then necessary to monitor the use of the cards and the procedures that have been modified following the implementation of the program.
To help you with this task, here is a list of what to watch out for and questions you can ask yourself. Do not hesitate to ask for feedback.
By answering these questions, you will be able to identify areas for improvement in the adoption of your new cards:
- Does card use meet expectations and comply with spending policy?
- If not: can the card configuration be improved with the addition or removal of rules and limits?
- Are card transaction data correctly transferred to management tools?
- Have reporting and management procedures been automated to the maximum extent possible? Are there still potential automations that have not been implemented?
- Are there any improvements or streamlining of procedures for processing expense claims?
In addition to the observations and feedback you can collect, follow the performance indicators defined when designing the corporate card program. Monitoring these indicators over several months, in addition to qualitative elements collected, will allow you to evaluate the implementation of the program.
No matter the degree of success, it is possible to identify areas for improvement and to continue adjusting and optimizing spending policies and management processes.
The implementation of a corporate card program is a transformation that seems long and difficult. But its main difficulty lies in the cross-functional nature of the transformation project: for the operation to be a success, many people in multiple departments and business lines must be committed to the change.
However, the successful implementation of such a program is greatly facilitated by the corporate card provider you choose.
Throughout the process, you will benefit from specific support and assistance.
In many cases, your card provider will dedicate a team to the implementation of your program. The person in charge of the program within your company will be surrounded by experts to support them in the process.
In addition, depending on the provider, you may be provided with a range of tools to facilitate program implementation, such as an online program management portal to track and receive the best advice step by step.