“Once business results are proven — and as long as the ROI is still there — marketing teams can make a strong case for keeping their budgets intact over the course of 2021,” says Nicole Lindenbaum, VP of Marketing, Teampay in an exclusive interview with TalkCMO

TCMO Bureau: What is your view on businesses cutting down on their marketing budget during the pandemic and still expecting results from the ongoing marketing campaigns?

Nicole Lindenbaum: At its core, marketing is all about connecting with audiences through storytelling. Right now, in-person relationship-building opportunities are almost impossible to come by, so marketing teams have to get more creative. During tough economic times, marketing budgets are often the first to go, and like every department, there’s only so much that organizations can do with limited funds.

Instead of moving to the drastic measure of cutting resources, marketing teams should focus their budget conversations around reallocation. For example, marketing can repurpose funds from expensive channels, like in-person events, and funnel that money into creative digital initiatives. Once business results are proven — and as long as the ROI is still there — marketing teams can make a strong case for keeping their budgets intact for 2021.

TCMO Bureau: How can industries and businesses benefit from utilizing a spend management platform?

Nicole Lindenbaum: My team, and every marketing team out there, needs quick, easy access to funds. As the head of my department, I also need clear visibility into how much each team is spending and what they’re purchasing.

Many companies have traditionally relied on shared cards or legacy accounting systems to make purchases and track expenses. Still, these are painful to use in regular times and almost impossible now that we’re remote.

This is why spend management platforms are so essential; they eliminate the need for me to spend 6-10 hours a month reconciling my team’s shared card, and they provide real-time insight into how much is being spent and where. With this visibility, my team can see how much budget we have available mid-month and choose to invest differently to hit our goals.

Read More: COVID-19 Pandemic has Accelerated the Need for Digital Experiences

These types of benefits apply to all departments, not just marketing. Spend management platforms also dramatically improve the finance team’s ability to track and reconcile spend, helping them cut down on time spent hunting information down at the end of each month. All in all, effective spend management ensures balanced budgets, efficient workflows, and happy employees. The business, on the whole, can be much more agile and adaptive.

TCMO Bureau: Does spend management support better decision making across modern business functions?

Nicole Lindenbaum: In my experience, spend management platforms help us make informed purchases and spend allocation decisions. With greater visibility and built-in alerts, these platforms solve common issues like teams doubling up on subscriptions, overspending on items they might not need, or waiting until the next month before making changes to existing projects.

This democratization of data leads to smarter spending habits as well. An employee at one of our customer companies postponed a purchase when they saw the company was close to its burn rate. This individual didn’t need to touch base with the finance team or be reminded to check ahead of time — they used the data to independently make the decision to hold their purchase.

This kind of on-demand insight helps teams make the most informed decisions at the moment, saving money and time in the long run. It also empowers individuals to take greater responsibility for their work and keep the company’s broader goals in mind.

TCMO Bureau: Over the years, spend management has turned into a more comprehensive process and activities that contribute to an organization’s expenses. But what are some of the major challenges associated with them, and how to overcome them?

Nicole Lindenbaum: Over the last few years, the need for spend management software to automate the request-to-reconciliation process has grown exponentially.

Fundamentally, the way we work has changed, and as a result, so has the way money flows through an organization. Working relationships and spaces are more flexible and dynamic, everything from software to supplies is being purchased from the bottom up, and companies are spending more than ever before.

Technology spends increased by $15 billion per week in 2020, as different employees and departments purchased their own tools. Simply put, business spends today is led by individual employees rather than by one centralized department or point person.

This has made spend management much more complex and sophisticated. Modern solutions consider the many different ways purchases are made — online, offline, invoiced, catalog, etc. — and connect all of them. Employees then have one place to go when they need to request a purchase, no matter how it’s paid, which increases adoption and ensures compliance.

Today’s business process for spend involves multiple stakeholders and multiple systems. Leading distributed spend management platforms integrates these systems for a seamless user experience that guides employees through each step of the purchasing process. Overall, this ensures company policy is proactively enforced, and business leaders have greater visibility.

While all of these trends were accelerating in the marketplace for the past few years, the COVID-19 pandemic proved why it is crucial to implement a distributed spend management platform. Offices of 100 people suddenly turned into 100 “offices” of 1 as workers moved to remote work — but individuals still need access to company funds, and companies still require the same control and transparency.

None of this will change once we’re back in the office; in fact, most organizations seek the kind of digital transformation that distributed spend management provides to ensure business continuity.

TCMO Bureau: Is agile spend management the future?

Nicole Lindenbaum: To stay ahead of the competition, organizations have to move fast. With on-demand access to real-time spend data, companies can make better decisions faster. By automating the purchasing workflow, companies enable employees to do their jobs more efficiently.

Read More: Customer Data Platforms and Their Role in Driving Marketing Initiatives

Removing cumbersome processes and adopting modern technology is also key for employee satisfaction, especially as the workforce demographic shifts and digital natives make up the bulk of employees. This generation demands that their business applications are as convenient and intuitive as the technology they use in their personal lives.

Additionally, the rise of consultants, freelancers, and remote workers will mean that even when employees are back in offices full or part-time, business spend will never go back to the way it was before 2020. Agile spend management is one-way organizations can quickly reduce friction and enable better decision making. Through distributed spend management technology, leading organizations can attain this agility for finance teams, business leaders, and employees across departments.

Nicole Lindenbaum is Vice President of Marketing at Teampay, the leading distributed spend management solution. With extensive experience in marketing B2B tech at multiple successful startups, she currently leads the Marketing and Partner teams. She holds an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis and a BFA from Syracuse University. Nicole lives in Brooklyn, NY