🚀 The Winter '24 Release is here — with smarter bill pay, spend limits, and more >

Blog

Articles

Alchemy ditches ...

Journal Home

Frame 48098126Frame 48098126
Brex-alchemy
Brex-alchemy

Alchemy ditches disparate systems in favor of a unified 'procure to pay 2.0' platform.

Brex-alchemy
Brex-alchemy

Alchemy ditches disparate systems in favor of a unified 'procure to pay 2.0' platform.

The TL;DR

Alchemy managed different types of spend with disparate systems, creating a clunky and manual process.

The company moved the majority of its spending to Brex, including cards, reimbursements, and bills, as well as ACH and wire transfers.

With a unified spend platform and automated workflows, Alchemy has greater data reliability, optimized spending, and improved its bottom line.

The Impact

80%

Reduction in administrative work

3 to 1

Consolidation of financial tools

Discover how unified spend changes the game for modern businesses.

For modern businesses, it can be debilitating to manage your finances in an antiquated way. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a business more cutting-edge than Alchemy, a web3 developer platform that provides the leading blockchain development platform powering billions of dollars of transactions for top companies in 197 countries. The company’s mission is to provide developers with the fundamental building blocks they need to create the future of technology.

Our CPO, Karandeep Anand, recently sat down with Sean Soper, Head of Accounting and Financial Operations at Alchemy, to discuss his approach and how the company was able to make its finance operations as revolutionary as their product offering. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

alchemy-headshots
alchemy-headshots

Q&A with

Sean Soper, Head of Accounting and Financial Operations, Alchemy

What is unified spend, and why is it so critical to businesses today?

Unified spend management is our version of procure-to-pay 2.0. It's a very modern way of running virtual cards, p-cards, bills, invoices — everything in aggregate within a centralized platform. And by consolidating expenses, businesses can optimize their spending, make more informed decisions on the fly, and improve their bottom line. It also helps with compliance and reduces the risk and overall fraud and error if there are mitigating controls built within the platform, as Brex does, and overall it gives you a competitive edge.

How were transactions managed before you switched over to Brex?

We were managing transactions with disparate systems, using a variety of different tools servicing different needs. We had Bill.com for invoicing and our bank-issued corporate cards through Bank of America, and we used our payroll provider for reimbursements. So, all three various systems, none of which talked to each other. And while one system actually was connected to the HRIS because it was processing payroll — it had that hierarchy built in — the other two did not, so we didn't have corporate cards that could be governed by an issuance-and-approval workflow, or anything along those lines. So, having a unified approach to all of this with Brex is helping to bring that together, and it's really streamlined the process.

How are you using Brex, and which kinds of spend do you have on Brex?

We've got physical cards, virtual cards, reimbursements, bills. We've even got ACH and wires that get remitted through Brex as well, and I selfishly will transfer as much as I can under the maximum FDIC-insured coverage on our Brex business account in order to mitigate risk and remit payments that way. Currently, everything resides in Brex.

“Controls upfront are a lot better than afterward having post-mortems and trying to figure it out. And the one thing that we don't like in blockchain — like any other place — is regulation by enforcement.”

Is there anything else that you've seen as a benefit of implementing either the controls or automation through Brex?

It's a huge difference between reimbursements from the way it was done previously through our payroll processor. In fact, there was no mobile app for that particular reimbursement setup, so the fact that Brex has a mobile app has definitely improved the user experience for our company. Then the other thing is the auto receipt-generation function. That is a key differentiator with Brex that's been tremendously helpful in cutting down some of the administrative costs in T&E.

As you think about ERPs and the role of Brex, how does having unified spend in a system like Brex help you with managing ERP transitions?

Effectively, it's a sub-ledger that both the end user has familiarity with, as well as vendors in terms of being able to submit to that one central repository to aggregate and then remit payment through. So, you can use the same system throughout the growth stage of your company as you level up in terms of your sophistication and complexity — you've got an AP sub-ledger that can follow you through that journey.

Have you seen your compliance rates also go up, or the amount of effort go down, not just from a time-savings perspective, or closing the books, but the number of transactions which actually have a receipt or a memo attached? Do you typically track that in how you report on the hygiene of the financial close process?

Just like anything else, controls upfront are a lot better than afterward having post-mortems and trying to figure it out. And the one thing that we don't like in blockchain — like any other place — is regulation by enforcement. We'd rather build the enforcement mechanisms on the very front end, as opposed to coming in on the back end and then having to make corrections thereafter. That’s just operationally inefficient, and it just doesn't bode really well with the organization — it causes a lot of confusion. If you can set a precedent upfront, it's always better.

“Getting on a platform that unifies spend helps to remediate some of this risk, in addition to having programmatic controls built into the front end.”

What criteria were most important for you when evaluating what spend management solution to go with?

Our first consideration was scalability. We wanted a system that would be with us for years throughout the company's growth. Then, its ability to spin up infinite virtual cards and have governance upfront, programmatic controls that then lend to more rigorous control environments down the line — those were also key considerations for us.

If you were to give one piece of advice to other financial controllers out there trying to figure out how to manage to spend better, what would it be?

I just cannot stress enough that data reliability is key prior to any optimization. Projections and forecasts built upon data that are unreliable, incomplete, or inaccurate just multiply the bad issues exponentially. Getting on a platform that unifies spend helps to remediate some of this risk, in addition to having programmatic controls built into the front end.

How do you typically approach automation in your spend management?

As long as you have that front-end adherence, automation should be able to abstract away about 80% of your administrative burden. And that's really going to help out with the financial close process. I look at automation as an enablement vehicle for a lot of things, not just on the spend side, but also facilitating a spin-up of virtual cards or p-cards, and having that work through an HRIS integration with APIs to your payroll provider of choice that would have that built-in hierarchy for approval. These are all powerful things that we can leverage in a modern P2P tech stack.

How do you think technology will help shape the world of finance in the future?

Time is a finite resource that should be leveraged for insights and for thinking about things upstream that are impacting the data, and then the downstream effects. So, I try to work with my staff to ensure that time savings due to automation are going to be used for flux analysis and understanding what's going on with the business and isn’t just saving time for time's sake. This resonates with our founders as well; they tell me all the time, “If you've got spare time, it should be allocated toward the biggest impacts.” And [automation] is how we can do it.

Learn more about how Alchemy saved as many as three days on every month-end close by unifying its spend with Brex.

bottom-cta-bg
bottom-cta-bg
Closed-loop-dark
Closed-loop-dark

See what Brex can do for you.

Learn how our spend platform can increase the strategic impact of your finance team and future-proof your company.

Contact salesOpen an account

Related articles

CPO-Webinar-cover

How to use customer feedback to improve your product

Is the customer always right? This session covers how to collect, analyze, and implement customer feedback