A Suplari Origin Story

As the CFO saw the data, she yelled, “Are you telling me that an employee expensed a $500 Uber ride?  Where were they going?  St. Louis?  I want to know who the employee is, who their manager is, where they were going, and how this expense got approved!”

For every CFO, where there is smoke, there is fire from a control, compliance and spend management perspective.

Companies want to move fast and empower employees to make decisions, so that they can compete and take advantage of opportunities.   Given historically low unemployment, companies are moving from a traditional command and control purchasing and procurement to employee driven and business unit driven processes.

CFO’s are increasing focus on making sure their company is spending in the most strategic ways possible. They want to scrutinize spend and suppliers, BUT managing travel and entertainment (T&E) expenses & corporate credit card / P-card expenses is a nightmare.     We at Suplari met with the CFO of a Fortune 500 company and used Suplari’s AI-driven insight system to identify unusual employee and supplier behavior.   This company’s Uber spend was growing over 100% year over year.  Certainly it was replacing taxi rides, but it was actually growing far larger than the total ground transportation spend had historically been.   Suplari flagged Uber as a supplier on its watch list. 

As the CFO saw the data, she yelled, “Are you telling me that an employee expensed a $500 Uber ride?  Where were they going?  St. Louis?  I want to know who the employee is, who their manager is, where they were going, and how this expense got approved!”

No, a $500 Uber ride is not going to make or break the financial quarter, but is a signal on the lack of controls most companies have around spend, suppliers and employees.   As CEO or CFO, this is the behavior that makes your blood boil.  Your company is hustling to hit your earnings goals, yet you have employees behaving badly and this behavior is nearly impossible to detect using your traditional ERP and T&E system.

Most companies are using a T&E systems like Concur or Expensify for employee reimbursements.  Managers approve expense reports, but very few actually check receipts or scrutinize the spend.  No manager wants to be the bad guy to have the conversation about expenses and employees behaving badly.  The money has already been spent, right?  What’s the point of enforcing the company travel and expense policy.  BUT multiple behavior across hundreds and thousands of employees and you have a real corporate epidemic around wasteful spend.  Very few companies actually use the reporting features which are extremely antiquated.  Enforcing T&E policy is generally looking for needles in a haystack.  State of the art for managing T&E expenses and P-card is spot checking and random sampling your known offenders like your VP of Sales.  Yes, we are approaching 2020 where AI is driving cars, but finance employees are still slogging through receipts and expense reports.

With low unemployment, CEOs and CFO’s are looking to increase team productivity.  We see artificial intelligence as highly complementary to today’s work.  At Suplari, we apply AI and analytics to finance and procurement data to drive profits for companies.   AI should play a core role in proactively reducing spend and improving employee compliance.     Suplari allows finance and procurement professionals to focus on what’s important and strategic, automating rote and repetitive tasks that are better suited to the computer.

So how can you expense your $500 Uber ride?  Just submit the expense.  It will likely never get flagged or even scrutinized.  Yup it’s really that simple.

Just be careful because Suplari could be watching.