How Well is Your Card Program Aging?

A few days ago, I conversed with a 103-year-old woman who defies the typical image of someone that age. She has well-done hair and wears fashionable attire, including heels. Her hobby is ballroom dancing. Our conversation centered on the best places to shop for clothes. So, what does this have to do with Commercial Cards? It is a matter of longevity and what supports or detracts from it. At this point, 20-year-old card programs are common, but age is just a number, not a measure of success or health. Why do some card programs maintain a strong position or keep improving over the years while other programs decline? Two typical detractors are manual processes and a reliance on paper, which can frustrate program participants and, even worse, eat away at Commercial Card benefits. Today, there is no reason a program needs to be stuck in the dark ages. To determine if your program is aging well, see if you can answer “yes” to all of the following questions.

Confined to a Wheelchair or Out Dancing?

Some programs have never been able to say “yes” to the following. Others started strong, but had a health crisis from which they may or may not have recovered. The best of the best have been ballroom dancing all along. 

  1. Is there an engaged executive champion of the program?
  2. Is the right person fulfilling the program manager or program administrator role?
  3. Does the organization encourage continuing education for program leaders? 
  4. Is the program supported by procurement and accounts payable?
  5. Do you take advantage of technology to minimize paper (e.g., card applications, transaction documentation/receipts, statements, the policies and procedures manual, etc.)?
  6. Have you replaced manual transaction auditing with some type of auditing solution/technology?
  7. Is the accounting process for card activity aided by integration or an electronic interface file?
  8. Are program goals updated annually?
  9. Are program metrics reviewed regularly, shared with senior management, and used to guide the program?
  10. Do you periodically partner with your card provider to identify missed opportunities? This includes new uses of cards, new card types, additional technology and/or reports that could help your program, and so on.
  11. Have you evaluated the potential of implementing or expanding ePayables/electronic accounts payable (EAP)
  12. Do you offer a variety of training options to cardholders and manager-approvers, including electronic methods, to accommodate different needs, schedules, learning styles, and preferences?
  13. Are cards easy to use?
  14. Is there a current, completed risk assessment of the program?
  15. Are audits conducted each year to test controls, verify compliance, and reveal any control gaps?

Conclusion

Being active is a key to success, both for people and card programs. Organizations reap rewards from an educated, engaged program management team who will ensure best practices are followed and drive ongoing program improvements.

Is your card program still rocking? Actively keeping it on pace with the evolving industry will promote longevity.

Is your card program still rocking? Actively keeping it on pace with the evolving industry will promote longevity.

Final Question

So, is your program better or worse today? If you fondly remember a distant time when your program was in its prime, identify how you can get it back on track to maximize the benefits Commercial Cards offer. If you need assistance, submit a contact form to inquire about consulting services from Recharged Education.


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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8 Questions to Help You Rate Your Card Provider

How would you describe your organization’s relationship with its Commercial Card provider? I have asked this question of end-users in the past and received diverse responses ranging from frustrated venting to glowing reports. Wherever you are at, a stellar relationship with the card provider is an important part of achieving and maintaining program success, while a poor relationship can drag it down. If you already have a service level agreement (SLA) with your provider, ensure you are using it regularly to evaluate their performance. Either way, following are questions to help you identify what is working well and what needs improvement.

Evaluation Questions 

Does your card provider:

  1. Express interest and a willingness to be an active part of your program? For example, are they willing to come onsite to meet with management, demonstrate technology, etc.?

  2. Return/acknowledge calls and emails in a timely manner (e.g., within a day or two)?

  3. Take appropriate action to resolve issues and get answers?

  4. Listen to what you say? For instance, listening attentively to learn more about your unique needs.

  5. Proactively communicate about upcoming changes that affect you, current issues, industry trends, etc.?

  6. Inform you about technology features and reports that could benefit your program?

  7. Suggest ways to make your program and payment strategy stronger?

  8. Offer program reviews and supplier on-boarding services?

What are your biggest frustrations? Schedule time with them to discuss your evaluation. They cannot fix something if they don’t know it is broken. Any such meetings should result in a clear action plan to which both parties agree.

To increase your chances of getting a high level of service from your card provider, begin by being a good customer.

To increase your chances of getting a high level of service from your card provider, begin by being a good customer.

Are You a Good Customer?

Even if your card provider has room for improvement in the customer service category, the other piece of the equation is your organization. Consider the following questions to determine how you rate as a customer.

Does your organization:

  • Have realistic expectations of the provider?

  • Clearly communicate any concerns?

  • Return calls and emails in a timely manner?

  • Take advantage of the offered technology, including self-service features?

  • Ask the provider how you can be a better customer?

A good provider/end-user relationship pays off. See a related blog post about a common card provider frustration. In the end, though, sometimes an organization just does not mesh well with a particular provider representative. You might need to try to a new/different relationship manager before you give up on the provider entirely. 

See also information about the request for proposal (RFP) process. If you plan to attend the NAPCP Commercial Card and Payment Conference next month, maximize your experience by meeting different providers.  


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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Identify your card program priorities.

With the start of a new calendar year, there is always a looming question of how you can improve the card program. Fix the pain before you pursue more gain. In my list of 16 annual housekeeping tasks for program fitness, #16 is “identify program priorities for the year ahead.” To help you do this, I have developed a simple (and complimentary) spreadsheet. See below to learn more and access the file.

About the Spreadsheet

  • It includes 22 program components for you to rate, using an established rating scale. 
  • Automatic counts for each rating are displayed at the bottom.
  • Components you rate less than “good” represent your biggest opportunities—things to prioritize this year.

As a single page, the spreadsheet offers a quick program snapshot. Consider sharing it with management and developing a related presentation to highlight both program strengths and opportunities. Explain your rationale for each rating and compare your program to best practices.   

Finally, if you are seeking the list of annual P-Card housekeeping tasks referred to above, please click here.

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What will you pursue first?

Your card program is waiting

2017 Contributors

I extend a special thank you to those who contributed to the blog last year:

  • Mary Schaeffer, AP Now
  • Nick Babinsky, Billtrust
  • Doug Hindsley, Card Integrity
  • JoAnn DeLuna, The BTN Group / Northstar Travel Group
  • Shanda Goodwin, Heartland Financial USA
  • Michael Campbell, Radiate Presentation Design
  • Theresa Blatner (end-user), Southern Company Gas

Please contact me if you are interested in contributing in the future.


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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