Summary: Rogue spend—unmanaged spend—puts businesses at risk of noncompliance, creates unpredictable budgets, reduces forecasting accuracy and completeness, and overall reduces business profits. By using spend analytics, rogue spend can more quickly be spotted and managed, reducing fraud, duplicate purchases, noncompliance risks, and allows leaders to make better-informed decisions based on complete and cohesive data.
In procurement, an and unwatched budget can quickly spiral out of control, sometimes in ways that can be severely detrimental to the organization both culturally and even legally. Spend analysis is a vital aspect of any procurement strategy and allows decision-makers to gain an accurate snapshot of spending, reduce fraud, and optimize and strategize at both a high and granular level. Failure to control rogue spending can result in over-stretched budgets which are draining to the organization and the employees who must deal with it.
What Is Rogue Spend?
Rogue spend is often mentioned in the same breath as maverick spending and tail spend. No matter what you want to call it, it’s spending that you don’t want in your organization because it is unmanaged and unpredictable. Of course, unmanaged and unpredictable spending means your business’s budget, forecasting, and insights are incomplete at best and completely inaccurate at worst. Issues with rogue spend may also place your business at a much higher risk for non-compliance.
Rogue spend can happen for a variety of reasons, from the innocent to the ignorant to the downright fraudulent.
On the innocent side of the spectrum, employees may not work within an organization where clear spend policies are in place, causing businesses to lose out of discounts. Procurement professionals may have been directed to focus on other objectives. Lack of proper tools and procedures for contract management may prevent procurement from properly managing spend.
On the ignorant side of the spectrum, there may be a cultural mindset that small purchases are “too small to matter” even though they can quickly add up. Management may accept unmanaged spend because they are unwilling to or do not understand the need to put manpower or money towards managing spending, because they do not understand that, left unchecked, unmanaged rogue spend can quickly spiral far out of control.
And on the fraudulent side of the spectrum, rogue spend can occur in many different ways. For example, in August and September, office supply spend may spike because employees take supplies home to their children to use at school. Similarly, employees may make miscellaneous purchases on personal cards then request reimbursement. Also on personal cards, employees may pay for flights and conferences, request reimbursement, and cancel the flights and tickets in order to pocket the money themselves. According to a white paper from Chrome River titled 10 Ways to Prevent Business Expense Fraud and Abuse, some employees may report many purchases barely below the audit threshold in order to steal money from the company—this sort of risky behavior can quickly be caught using automated spend analytics.
How Can Spend Analytics Help Find Rogue Spend?
Maintaining and clear and accurate picture of your company’s spending data can reveal many insights, not the least of which is rogue spend. Especially if your company utilizes machine learning technology, objective data can be utilized to spot risky behaviors, target spend that is likely to be out of compliance, and find key opportunities to reduce spend by utilizing and strategizing with key suppliers in order to maximize discounts and efficiency. ERP solutions like SAP S/4HANA can be especially helpful in aggregating and analyzing these sorts of spend data into one integrated dashboard.
Spend analysis, by its very nature, increases visibility, allowing decision-makers to make better-informed choices regarding the company’s finances.
Spend analysis can be used to analyze uncategorized spending and assess risks associated with it, determine if there’s a high likelihood that the spend is fraudulent, and help clarify where rogue spending can be reduced in exchange for managed, strategic spending that benefits the company’s bottom line and supplier relationships alike.