Three program success factors for Canadian company.

If asked about the top three things that drive Commercial Card program success, what would you say? The collective answers from industry professionals would likely be diverse, which is a good thing. The more insights we garner from others, the stronger we can make our card programs. During the first half of 2015, I caught up with Linda Dyck, CPCP, manager, corporate accounting, Canadian Blood Services, to hear more about what has made their programs successful and what might be in their future. She specified technology, supportive management and card diversification, as described below.

Technology Instrumental to Growth

When Linda joined Canadian Blood Services 11 years ago, she inherited what she called a “poor program” primarily due to a lack of technology and too many manual processes. She recalled few reporting options and reconciliation that “was a mess.” By her second year, this began to change after they completed a request for proposal (RFP) process that resulted in a new provider and more online tools. The online tools, providing easy access to transactions, also initiated an attitude change as management loosened their conservative approach toward card issuance.

A few years later, receipt scanning was another victory. They only keep paper records approximately six months, whereas, in the past, they had the expense of storing paper for seven years.

Supportive Management Keeps Program on Track

Overall, Canadian Blood Services sees the value of Commercial Cards, so Linda has never had an issue obtaining executive management support. She shared they are smart enough to know that cards decrease the number of invoices processed by AP and also reduce the number of full-time equivalents (FTEs) needed.

Managers take their reviewer/approver role seriously, which Linda views as a key reason that internal fraud has not been an issue. They know what their employees are buying and why. She likened manager review of transactions to their sign off on time sheets for payroll purposes; both responsibilities are equally important.

Program success involves getting key components in sync.

Program success involves getting key components in sync.

Card Diversification Resolves Pain Points

In addition to Purchasing Cards, Canadian Blood Services makes use of traditional Ghost Cards. For example, purchases of office supplies by their various sites are tied to Ghost Cards, eliminating what used to generate approximately 1,000 invoices per year for AP to manually process. They also utilize Visa Payables Automation (VPA) with around 30 suppliers—a program that is steadily expanding and further reducing their use of paper checks.

Looking ahead, Linda is intrigued by an upcoming type of prepaid card with enhanced controls from Payabillity. She would be able to keep unfunded cards on hand until she needs to fund and distribute them. They could be used for things like honorariums and petty cash replenishment, which today involve cumbersome processes.

Based on my discussion with Linda, I can easily see that her success is driven by an ongoing pursuit of improvement. She does not cease learning and evaluating how what she learns can benefit her organization. Excellent approach! 

To continue expanding your education, see also four tips from another industry professional and check out the growing content from Recharged Education.   

About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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