How to Improve Budget Management Using Remote Work Tools
The shift to remote work due to COVID-19 has caused many companies to rethink their workforce management strategies, with many organizations now more open to remote work on a long-term basis. Amidst this shift, companies have turned to tools that help enable remote work, such as communication and collaboration platforms that make it easier for employees to stay on the same page with each other, regardless of their locations.
Yet remote work tools should be assessed and leveraged beyond what they can do for productivity purposes. Remote work tools like project management software and spend management platforms can also be used to improve areas like budget management. And considering the economic challenges that many businesses have faced over the past few months and could continue to face for a while, optimizing budget management takes on even greater importance.
Tracking Projects to Improve Budget Management
Popular project management tools like Asana and Smartsheet not only help teams stay organized while working remotely but can also often be used for budget management purposes. Either within some platforms directly or through integrations, companies can track budgets for specific projects while also staying on top of budget management tasks like requesting estimates and planning for invoice payment dates.
For example, suppose a marketing agency uses project management software to stay on top of creating content for a client. Beyond tracking the general progress of content development, the agency could take steps such as:
- Tracking the time that each part of a project takes in order to better forecast and plan budgets for each project: If developing social media posts takes a significant amount of your salaried employees’ time, for instance, you might find that you need to either charge clients more or bring on additional employees or freelancers to help improve your P&L. The time that employees spend on certain parts of a project might not always be readily apparent when working remotely, but using a project management, task management or time tracking type of tool can make it easier to figure out the true cost of each part of a project.
- Knowing the status of when invoices are due: Even if a company uses a separate, automated invoice management system, it can be useful to also keep track of invoices within project management tools, especially if employees are working remotely and you want to be sure there are no lapses in communication. If an invoice is scheduled to automatically be paid by a certain date, tracking that against the progress of a project can help identify misalignments.
For example, an agency might bring on a graphic designer for a project and agree to pay half their fee upfront and the other half a month later when the project is scheduled to wrap up. Yet if that second invoice is coming due and you can see within your project management system that you still have a long way to go until your work with the graphic designer ends, then there’s a mismatch you need to resolve, either by adjusting the project schedule or figuring out payment terms that work better for your organization next time around.
- Identifying project delays that increase costs or hurt revenue: If certain parts of a project take longer than expected, that could lead to increased costs like needing to bring on freelance support to finish a project for a client on time. And project delays could ultimately hurt client experience and make them less likely to work with you in the future, thereby hurting future revenue.
Using remote work tools like project management software can help employees identify recurring delays that slow down work and ultimately affect budget management. For example, you might notice that trying to schedule client meetings between each phase of a project ultimately causes timelines to keep getting pushed back. As such, companies could use tools like calendly that make scheduling more efficient, especially with a remote workforce.
Improving Budget Management With Spend Visibility
In addition to using project-oriented tools, companies can also improve budget management with tools like spend management platforms that increase spend visibility. In particular, seeing the specific purchases that compose your tail spend — the unmanaged spend that can account for 20-40% of total budgets — can make it easier to find opportunities to reduce these costs, like identifying duplicate or unnecessarily expensive purchases.
Having this visibility into all areas of spend becomes particularly important with a remote workforce, as employees might need to purchase and get reimbursed for products and services on a more personalized basis than if everyone was working within one office.
As such, companies should look for spend management tools that make it seamless to capture spend data from remote employees. Having remote approval functionality can also improve budget management, as finance and procurement teams can be sure to only approve purchases that fit within their budget parameters.
Want to learn more about how remote tools like spend management technology can help your company improve budget management? Request a free consultation with our product experts today.
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