Earlier this year, I witnessed something on a flight that made me think about P-Card program management and the positive impact of simple solutions. The situation involved a toddler, who never once made a peep on the three-hour flight and, yes, he was awake. The source of his fascination was a “toy” from his mother that was both quiet and inexpensive: a plastic cup filled with various soft pompoms—like what you can get at a craft store—that he could sort, count, and take out of the cup and put back in. As a result of watching him, I was inspired to compile simple ideas for a card program that might save time, strengthen card usage, improve compliance, and/or increase cardholder satisfaction. I hope you can find at least one to try.
Develop boilerplate language concerning card acceptance that can be incorporated into requests for proposals (RFPs) and contracts with vendors to help boost card usage. Be sure to address things like Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance and surcharging.
Apply default budget/accounting codes for cardholders whose purchases tend to require the same coding. This will minimize manual keying, making their job easier.
Assign a proxy “transaction reconciler” for cardholders who are not at a computer regularly, such as maintenance staff.
Take advantage of online transaction reconciliation tools, including receipt imaging if available. Some organizations still base this task on paper statements. While I readily admit this “simple” solution takes time to adopt, taking advantage of technology should be a simple decision.
Create an email template to use when contacting a cardholder and/or manager about a mistake or possible issue. Not only does this prevent you from having to start from scratch each time, it supports the delivery of a consistent message. Before you finalize a template, obtain management approval to ensure the language strikes the right tone.
Within your policies and procedures (P&P), whether a PDF or web-based, add links within the table of contents (TOC) to each topical section and, within each section, add a link back to the TOC for user navigation ease.
Add short video clips, where meaningful, to the online P&P to show users how to do something. This tactic fits right in to our YouTube world.
If you administer online quizzes, add a link within each question that leads to where the quiz takers can find the answers. After all, the ultimate goal is for program participants to pass the quiz, even if they have to look up the right information.
Schedule reports from the issuer to push to you via email each month to eliminate having to manually generate the desired reports within the issuer’s technology.
Proactively review an “available limit” report once or twice per cycle. Take appropriate action, as needed, in an effort to prevent transaction declines, which can frustrate users and vendors alike, as well as intrude on your day.
If you create regular graphs within Microsoft Excel to showcase program metrics, save your perfected graphs as templates. (Right-click on a finished graph and select Save as Template). This allows you to apply the same formatting to future graphs to more easily achieve a consistent look. (On a newly created graph, right-click and select Change Chart Type to access and apply a saved graph template).
This last one might sound crazy to most people... Issue and distribute cards to individual cardholders versus storing the cards in a central location. Tiffany Lovelace, CPCP, Commercial Card Sales Leader, SVP, Regions Bank, told me about a client who keeps cards in a three-ring binder that employees have to check out and then return again after usage. As she remarked, “Cards are such an amazing tool, yet there they are—trapped in a binder.”
Overall, P-Cards should be easy, not hard. If you already have a best practice P-Card program, the tips offered herein might be old news. However, based on the work I’ve done related to middle market organizations, I know that many programs are doing things the hard way too often.
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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…