Topics Every P-Card P&P Manual Should Include

Even if your Purchasing Card policies and procedures (P&P) manual is current, it could be lacking in other ways, resulting in repeated questions and compliance issues. Have you evaluated the manual’s topics and related content recently? It might be missing key information. Yet, reviewing and updating P&P often fall to the bottom of someone’s to-do list. According to AP Now’s AP Practices Survey Results, fewer than 20% of respondents update their accounts payable P&P at least annually. I assume the same could be true for P-Card P&P. To help you gauge whether you are covering the right material, following are 12 broad topics along with example sub-topics for some.

Primary Topics

1. P-Card Overview

Relay what P-Cards are, why the organization has a program, what P-Cards are used for, etc.

2. Roles and Responsibilities

3. How to Obtain a P-Card

4. Card Security and Limits

Be sure to provide insight on common scams/external frauds and how to combat.

5. Card Usage

This broad category spans many sub-topics, such as:

  • Allowed and prohibited purchases, including parameters describing “necessary” versus “extravagant” business purchases
  • Preferred/approved vendors
  • Placing an order—the P-Card purchase-to-pay (P2P) process
  • Supporting documentation requirements
  • Returning an order and receiving credit
  • Accidental usage for a personal purchase
  • What constitutes card misuse/abuse

6. Transaction Declines

Explain why this might happen and what to do in response.

7. Transaction Reconcilement and Review

One relevant sub-topic is how cardholders should address a problematic transaction; see the previous blog post for tips

8. Ongoing Training Requirements

9. Card Expiration and Renewal

10. About Program Auditing 

While you do not need to give away any secrets, you do want program participants to know that transactions are monitored.

11. Card Cancellation

12. Reference Materials

Examples include a glossary, user guide for the P-Card technology, relevant forms, etc.

Concluding Thoughts

While it is nearly impossible within the P&P to address every unique situation that could arise, think about what you experience on a regular basis, such as frequently asked questions and common mistakes. Respond to these experiences by planning to make the related content clearer, more prominent, and easier to find. Taking the time to make your P&P more robust can pay off.

Additional Resources

See more content on P-Card policies and procedures from Recharged Education, including a related guide available for purchase for just $29.99.

For more information about AP Now’s AP Practices Survey Results referenced in the introduction above, visit http://www.ap-now.com/products/item142.cfm.

Two Upcoming Events

  1. July 24 Public Sector Virtual Symposium: Preparing Public Sector Auditors for Tomorrow’s Terrain
  2. July 25 Webinar: P-Card Fraud Prevention and Detection Best Practices (additional tips about P-Card P&P will be shared)

Visit the Events page for more information.



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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

What Card Transaction Disputes Might Be Telling You

Is a cardholder hiding something? Commercial Card transactions may be disputed for a variety of reasons, such as the charge represents an unauthorized purchase. While you want cardholders to be diligent in their transaction reviews, the dispute privilege can also be abused. On one end of the spectrum is the serious issue of so-called “friendly fraud” whereby the cardholder disputes a transaction through the card issuer that is actually a prohibited personal purchase they are trying to disguise. On the less serious side, a cardholder might jump the gun and dispute something that could be resolved by working directly with the offending vendor. As a card program manager, there are several things you can do to help combat such problems. See the action items below, as well as tips for what to include within your policies and procedures manual.

Action Items

  1. Verify with your card issuer the legitimate reasons for disputing a transaction, how to do so, and the allowed time frame (e.g., 60 days from the transaction date).
  2. Ensure the policies and procedures (P&P) adequately address this topic. Also cover this within cardholder training.
  3. Regularly review the disputes initiated/in progress to look for anything unusual, such as a high number in a particular month.
  4. Track the dispute history for your program to identify any trends by cardholder and/or by vendor. Names that keep popping up warrant further research and, as needed, appropriate action. “Friendly fraud” should be grounds for termination.

Your Policies & Procedures

Cardholders need to understand the importance of their review process and how to handle a problematic transaction. For example, your P&P could say:

As a cardholder, your transaction review/reconciliation process is critical to identifying possible fraud and vendor errors. Each transaction should accurately represent goods and/or services you have purchased and received, in accordance with the guidelines herein for allowed business purchases. To minimize risk to the organization, swiftly address any problematic transactions, as described below.

[Insert procedures for transaction review/reconciliation] 

The procedures should specify what constitutes a problematic transaction, such as the dispute reasons provided by your issuer, and what they should do about it. Unauthorized transactions typically justify using the card issuer’s dispute process right off the bat, but other issues, like a duplicate charge, can be corrected with a timely credit from the vendor. Help cardholders make the right decisions. Here is a sample decision matrix for the P&P:

Problematic Transaction Decision Matrix.PNG

If you are seeking more insight about how to strengthen your P&P manual, consider purchasing the related guide for $29.99.

July 25 Webinar: P-Card Fraud Prevention and Detection Best Practices

Check out this upcoming webinar, designed to help you maximize your fraud fighting efforts.

Are cardholders disguising personal purchases by disputing the related transactions? Take a closer look at anyone who seems to abuse the dispute process.

Are cardholders disguising personal purchases by disputing the related transactions? Take a closer look at anyone who seems to abuse the dispute process.



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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

P-Card program management tools

Got money left in your budget? Instead of buying more office supplies that your organization does not need, get two valuable P-Card program management tools: a guide on revitalizing program policies and procedures, and a customizable risk assessment template. A single electronic copy of each totals a mere $119.98. Visit the store at: https://www.recharged-education.com/store/. Need convincing? Following is more information and a sneak peek of both resources.

If you work for a provider organization and want to obtain these resources to give to clients, there is a license option you can purchase for unlimited distribution.

Revitalizing Your P-Card P&P

With 20+ pages of content, the guide ($29.99) includes:

  • a list of topics to include 
  • tips for your P-Card Intranet home page
  • procedure writing best practices
  • examples of procedure formats
  • sample survey to obtain users’ feedback 
  • sample text you can customize
  • checklists to evaluate key sections
  • guidance on content development

Sneak Peek of Procedure Writing Advice

Design matters. I have seen too many P&P manuals comprised of large, unappealing text-heavy paragraphs. To give them new life, the guide recommends separating general information from procedures and making procedures more prominent. Courtesy of a 2016 blog post, here are “before” and “after” examples.

Before a revitalization effort, the steps are buried in the text block and the passive voice adds to the dullness.  

P&P before.png

The revised version reflects a script format to separate the tasks by job role. Each action begins with a verb and speaks to the person responsible.

P&P after.png

Assessing Your P-Card Program Risk

The Excel template ($89.99) includes nine worksheets for a program manager to complete, based on these topics:

  1. Program Overview
  2. Policies and Procedures
  3. Card Issuance
  4. Card Controls
  5. Card Usage and Activity
  6. Card Cancellation
  7. Accounting Processes
  8. Information Security
  9. Program Administrator/Manager

In all, there are more than 100 questions, providing a robust evaluation of P-Card controls.

Sneak Peek of Program Overview Information

To begin a P-Card risk assessment, document general facts about the program, such as:

  • date of the last risk assessment
  • program changes since then
  • year of program implementation
  • department responsible for program management
  • current card issuer
  • current number of cardholders/accounts
  • targeted dollar threshold for P-Card purchases
  • program metrics and benefits (to highlight the value of P-Cards)
  • information about internal card fraud cases (to put fraud into perspective)

This helps everyone who might review the assessment become more familiar with the program.

See also other content related to controls and fraud.


Please visit the store to see more and make a purchase: https://www.recharged-education.com/store/


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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