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Forrester study

Spend management impacts your ability to compete globally.

Finance leaders around the world believe that succeeding in the future of business will require having a global, real-time, AI-powered approach to spend management, but one in three don't think their organization will be ready — and half admit that their spend management technology isn't even meeting their needs today.

That’s according to a recent study commissioned by Brex and conducted by Forrester Consulting, which polled over 300 global finance leaders on the state of spend management. These execs believe spend management strategies play an instrumental role in the performance of their companies and employees — and ultimately, their ability to compete on a global scale.

That’s why 65% said their organization plans to invest significantly in spend management this year to modernize their spend processes and address these shortfalls. Here’s what they’re hoping to gain.

“Due to its slow progress and features, [my firm’s spend management platform] has hampered our team productivity.” – C-level executive, US

The biggest opportunities to improve spend management.

Forrester’s survey results make it clear: Finance execs believe an effective spend management program with an easy employee experience is critical to meeting their top business goals.

According to the survey respondents, here are the spend management challenges that have major implications on the success of their businesses:

  • Operational efficiency: Over half (58%) said ineffective programs lead to increased operating costs due to wasted spend and missed optimization opportunities.
  • Decision-making: 55% said leaders at their organizations struggle to make sound decisions due to poor, delayed, or incomplete spend insights.
  • Global consistency: Nearly 70% said managing spend for a global, distributed workforce is challenging with their current solutions.

“Forms of [expense] reports vary from country to country, making it difficult to keep track.” – VP, US

These are big challenges for modern companies, and they become even more important in a competitive context. The majority of finance leaders at US-based companies (51%) say poor spend management stifles their organization’s ability to compete or differentiate its offerings. One in three leaders outside the US say as much.

Modernizing your spend management strategy, then, can be the difference between a niche business with minimal market share and a category-defining global brand. Popular mobile delivery app DoorDash, for example, discovered that using multiple solutions to manage global spend wasn’t scalable.

DoorDash grew from a 100-person US startup to a worldwide powerhouse of 16,000 employees serving 32 million monthly active users in 27 countries. But their spend setup got more complicated as it grew, slowing productivity and oftentimes blocking employees from doing their jobs at all.

“Traditional expense management requires you to chase money after it's been spent,” said Josh Pickles, Head of Global Strategic Sourcing and Procurement at DoorDash. “We needed a better card and spend management solution to serve everyone faster and deliver a better experience for end users. In this economic climate, flexibility and adaptability are more important than ever.”

Survey respondents also feel confident that optimizing their spend management capabilities across geographies and functions will improve:

  • Employee satisfaction and productivity
  • The ability to make key decisions
  • Bottom-line results

But where should they start?

The survey suggests prioritizing an integrated AI-powered solution with global adaptability that employees actually want to use, one that automates all types of spend — from card to T&E to procurement — and that integrates with your ERP and other financial systems.

“Even for the most straightforward charges, the approval process for an expense report is inefficient and involves several steps.” – C-level executive, US

Confidently navigate the spend management future.

Faced with the choice between maintaining the status quo or adapting to the global nature of business, our surveyed finance leaders understand the need to act. Overall, 83% of respondents confirmed that spend management is a high priority for their company’s leadership.

Global, AI-powered spend management is enticing for all levels of finance as well as the broader business because it has the potential to:

Are you ready to turn spending into a strategic growth lever that delivers value across the business? Brex is building the future of spend management that leading finance teams are asking for — and that leading analyst firms recommend.

Our AI-powered spend platform:

*The metrics provided are from July 2023 and for illustrative purposes only. Past performance does not guarantee future results, which may vary.

What does Forrester recommend?

Curious to know what the experts at Forrester recommend? Download the full study to learn the top three priorities for businesses looking to compete more effectively globally by improving how they manage spending.

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