For some, the word “pivot” might invoke images of Ross Geller trying to bring a sofa up a flight of stairs in the ’90s TV series, “Friends.” But in today’s business world, pivot has become the buzzword for the important changes that have to be made during the COVID-19 pandemic, to help organizations continue to survive and operate.
Inevitably, card programs have had to endure pivotal changes during COVID-19 as well. What pivotable changes can be expected, and how can your company deal with those changes successfully?
Changes in spend amounts
What your business provides to consumers and how that fits in the COVID-19 situation will also decide how much or little your company will be spending. The businesses deemed “essential” at this time might need to spend much more money than ever before, just to keep up with an extreme uptick in manufacturing, services, and purchases. On the other hand, businesses considered “non-essential” might decide it’s best to cut back on costs as much as possible. Even still, businesses can see an increase in spend on office supplies with remote employees who need access to laptops, internet service, and video conferencing. Either way, your card program will need to change to reflect these new spend demands accordingly.
Changes in the types of items purchased
What your business bought before COVID-19 and what it needs to buy now can be extremely different. With employees now working from home, many need the technical equipment and software to do so properly. Categories and spend types within card programs need to change as well, so that they can be properly complied with and tracked. Employees, likewise, need to be informed of these new changes — what can and should be purchased now, and what shouldn’t be — to avoid any unauthorized or disapproved purchases.
Changes in how cards are used
If your company used travel cards heavily in the past, that program during COVID-19 may have come to a screeching halt. However, due to the very digital nature of the COVID-19 business environment, your company might find that you’re using cards for other purchases all the more. In fact, some organizations might feel the need to move all spend — including all accounts payable — onto commercial cards, to take advantage of their more digital nature.
Changes on the part of card issuers
Changes that affect your card program aren’t only internal ones. COVID-19 is bringing about changes by banks and other card issuers regarding their cards’ terms and conditions. Organizations need to recognize and respond to these external changes, many of which are beneficial to your own card program. Expanded point programs, payment deferrals, lower rates, extended spend flexibility, and the waiving of fees are some of the ways card issuers are helping businesses deal with new financial challenges. These changes definitely play out in your company’s favor. But be careful — most of these new policies are limited in time and scope. You won’t be able to count on them for any long-term, big-picture card program plans.
How to roll with the COVID-19 pivotal changes
In a time when we are as remote and isolated from each other in the workplace like never before, communication becomes all the more critical and crucial. The gaps caused by a lack of communication can easily be filled with assumptions, gossip, and misinformation on the part of employees — all of which could wreak havoc on your card program. So it’s time to rethink what needs to be communicated, as well how that gets communicated.
Search out the best ways to communicate with your cardholders now that they are working from home. Email, virtual meetings, PDF documents, phone calls, and texts are all ways you can reach out to your employees remotely. Find ways to confirm receipt of materials and communication (such as requesting a reply email or using software that indicates when documents have been opened).
This is also the time to be communicating openly and frequently with vendors. Make sure they know what your new policies are and how the policies affect them and the business they do with your company.
Likewise, you need to be communicating with your card issuers. Speak to them to find out what they currently have in place to help companies like yours deal with the financial challenges of COVID-19. Implement whatever benefits you can into your card program. Keep in mind, however, that these benefits will most likely be temporary.
Your card policies and procedures are going to play a huge roll in determining what gets communicated. Appropriate actions need to be taken specifically in response to COVID-19, and they need to be clearly spelled out. These policies and procedures create the bedrock on which the foundation of your COVID-19 card program will be built. It’s success lies in how well and how quickly you can determine the right steps to take during this time. It also depends on how well and quickly you can train your employee regarding those new steps.
Online training can help provide a smooth transition from the old policies and procedures to the new ones that pertain to COVID-19. These online courses also address the new remote nature of your work environment.
Through TRAINING-WISE, Card Integrity provides online training that not only educates your cardholders on your new policies and procedures, but can also ensure comprehension, through testing, attendance tracking, and signature sign-offs. You’ll know who is trained, when they are trained, and if they trained in a successful manner.
Don’t forget — your vendors most likely will need training on new policies as well. Together with Card Integrity, you can craft a course that can be delivered online to your vendors, in a way that can communicate changes much better than just a letter or an email.
Communication and training are both very fine and good — and absolutely necessary. But you’ll be missing an important piece of the puzzle if you cannot confirm that policies and procedures are being maintained, and furthermore, who is truly complying and who is not.
To make sure your card program is working as it should be and your employees are using cards appropriately, transactions must be tracked. Card Integrity helps with solutions specifically designed to ensure compliance and mitigate risk. Our DATA-WISE and RECEIPT-WISE programs review transaction data and receipts, to confirm that property categories are being used and all policies are being met. The latest features include reporting specific to changes in supplies due to COVID-19.
At a time when AP might be moving from paper invoices to fully digitalized card purchases, it’s important also to avoid duplicate charges. Our solutions make sure that spend moving from one payment method doesn’t show up — accidentally or on purpose — on another method as well.
You can also read more about tracking your card program remotely while employees work from home by checking out our article, “Program Management Challenges and Success Strategies While Working from Home.”
Using pivotal changes to evolve your business
It’s easy to view the business changes accompanying COVID-19 as unsettling and even scary. But change can also represent opportunities for a company to grow and evolve into something better. Change can bring about momentum that translates into positive outcomes. Allow Card Integrity to help make your COVID-19 decisions positive and transformative ones for your card program. To learn more, contact Card Integrity by giving us a call today at 630-501-1507, or contact us via our online form.