Challenges, considerations, tips. My recent interview with industry veteran Bogdan Roman covered all of these aspects related to global Commercial Card program implementation and management. Whether your organization is considering global expansion or is already on this path, gain insight from someone who has been there. Following is part one of two.
Bogdan Roman has more than seven years of Commercial Card experience. His specialty is managing and growing global card programs. In addition to the United States and Canada, his experience spans multiple regions/countries including India, Singapore, Australia, UK, France, Germany, Israel, and Brazil. He is currently seeking new opportunities to apply his expertise in helping other companies avoid common pitfalls when embarking on global programs. Email Bogdan or get in touch through LinkedIn.
Q: What should an organization consider before it expands its card program outside North America?
A: It is important to focus and make informed decisions, with key stakeholders aware of, and on board with, the global milestones. I should not answer a question with many questions, but answers to the following are important for global expansion:
- What should the program look like? Be specific in defining this.
- What is the program architecture (e.g., One Card program, segregated travel and P-Card programs)?
- What is the management structure—centralized or decentralized?
- What is the global support model?
- What is the global policy?
- What is the communication, training and change management model?
- What technology should be deployed?
- What would success look like and how should it be measured?
- What resources are available in the organization and what should be employed/contracted in case country-specific challenges arise?
Keys to Success
Q: What do you see as common challenges or critical elements in building a global Commercial Card program?
A: It would take a book to answer this, but it is important to address it because it is raised frequently when contemplating the challenge of building a global program. For simplicity, I am limiting my answer to three main things, but there are more.
1. Executive Support
Executive support at the corporate level is paramount. Any executive sponsor ought to understand and believe in the value derived from building a global card program. This is accomplished by answering the why. Why do we need such a program? Why is there value in it for the organization? The key sponsors should be able to understand and measure the value.
Technology is also a key part of building a great program. Card spend, data centralization and controls are made easier with tools available today. The administration challenge to capture and report spend in multiple currencies could be easily accomplished by many existing travel and expense management systems. The trend in software as a service (SaaS) is influencing this market with many strong offerings, but large enterprise systems have great options as well.
3. Appropriate Expectations
One could view this as proper mindset. A global program isn’t as simple as replicating a U.S. card program in another country/region, whether Asia, South America or EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa). The reality and challenges of the financial and global legal card requirements vary from country to country. It is important to understand that a card program in the U.S. might not have the same impact, expectation, support and acceptance in another country. Mindset and localization are always hot topics at NAPCP conferences, and the stories and experiences from many colleagues in the Commercial Card industry are insightful.
Program Management Tip
Q: What tips can you share regarding program management? For example, does it work well to have a central person who oversees all countries in addition to some type of local program manager in each?
A: The size of the company, its culture and perhaps industry come into play. I believe a centralized person to oversee all countries makes sense, but the executive support has to be already in place and well understood by all stakeholders. In the technology space for global organizations that are best-in-class or striving to become best-in-class, the centralized global program manager role works well.
Opportunity for Providers
If you are an industry provider who can support Commercial Card programs outside North America, please submit a contact form about having your company listed in a future blog post.
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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