Weathering Common Card Program Storms

Let’s face it. Controlling certain aspects of a Commercial Card program can be a lot like trying to control the weather. Even the best program managers/administrators (PM/PA) cannot control everything that happens. I had plenty of time to ponder this over the weekend while experiencing a mid-April blizzard that dropped more than a foot of snow at my doorstep. Talk about a lack of control! In the life of a card program, though, some “storms” are like major weather events, while others are more like ongoing weather patterns. Three examples include dealing with people, addressing a lack of program buy-in, and responding to audit findings. Keep reading to learn more and acquire tips to help you effectively handle each. As for that weekend blizzard, my coping strategy was to get outside and enjoy the fresh snow, even though April typically signals spring.

1. Dealing with People

Card program management also means people management. Like dealing with the ever-changing weather, dealing with a wide range of people is a daily part of the PM/PA job. You encounter dozens of different personalities among the cardholders, managers, C-suite, auditors, procurement, accounts payable, and more. Broadly speaking, things that work well across the spectrum include:

  • Develop a good rapport
  • Seek to understand their position and what matters to them
  • Communicate in a way that suits their unique preferences

Related resources include:

2. Lack of Program Buy-in 

At one time or another, most PMs/PAs face someone who resists the P-Card program or an ePayables/electronic accounts payable (EAP) initiative. Like dressing appropriately for the weather, there are ways to approach such resistance.

  • Ask about their concerns; listen attentively
  • Offer relevant industry education 
  • Share your program successes, especially ones that can be quantified, to highlight the value
  • Relay positive examples from other organizations (e.g., case studies, industry reports), so they can see what is possible
  • If applicable, provide results from your risk assessment

Access more resources pertaining to program buy-in.

Dealing with the weather also provides inspiration for the job: prepare, keep a good attitude, and make the most of every situation.

Dealing with the weather also provides inspiration for the job: prepare, keep a good attitude, and make the most of every situation.

3. Audit Findings

One of the scariest P-Card storms is an audit finding—the kind that makes management question the future of the program. I have seen knee-jerk reactions that ultimately do more harm than good. The key is to review the finding(s) objectively. Assess the severity of the storm and consider the long-range forecast before taking any action. 

  • Does the finding represent card fraud or a minor infraction?
  • Is it a widespread issue or isolated to a particular person or department?
  • How often has the issue occurred? Is it chronic or sporadic?
  • Why did the issue occur? Are there control gaps that should be corrected? 

Answering these questions can help steer your organization toward an appropriate plan.

About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With 20 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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