Supporting government efforts for improved spend managements

SA public service entities are under pressure to contain costs and enhance their spend capabilities.

South African municipalities and other public service entities are under immense pressure to contain costs and enhance their spend management capabilities.

The latest report by South African Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu paints a bleak picture of immense challenges within public sector finances. In his report, the Auditor-General found that the majority of municipalities struggled with irregular expenditure and that, despite spending billions on consultants, the outcomes barely changed. He added that proper financial controls can help municipalities during hard times, but the continued slippage in controls currently experienced would end up with bankruptcy.

Ntokozo Mtshali at SAP Concur says the constrained economy and challenges brought by the current health emergency require new approaches by the government to ensure limited resources are spent wisely. “Managing finances in these turbulent times requires exemplary spend management to ensure municipalities and other government departments maintain healthy cash flows and can continue delivering essential services to those who need it most. By improving cost controls, public sector finance leaders also gain the agility to better respond to new challenges and redirect spend to areas that need it most.”

SAP Concur provides solutions that automate and integrate all the elements needed for effective spend management, improving compliance and reducing risks while ensuring control over total costs. 

“When costs are not effectively managed, spend can easily exceed available budgets and leave municipalities without the cash flow needed to maintain high levels of service delivery,” says Mtshali. “What municipal finance leaders should strive for during these uncertain times is getting a complete view over total spend, and to then identify how to reprioritise budgets, prevent non-compliant spend at the point of impact and stay on budget at all times.”

Mtshali says SAP Concur also replaces inefficient, disconnected invoice systems with an integrated, automated digital process that helps bring more costs under control. “Approving and managing invoices is also easier and more accurate, helping eliminate late payments, double-payments and other mistakes that can drive up costs.”

For municipal finance managers looking to improve their spend management capabilities in 2020, Mtshali offers the following three tips:

Three tips for public service spend management in 2020:

Get more control over your spending
The first step is to gain greater visibility over all areas of spend. SAP Concur integrates invoice management with existing expense solutions to strengthen control over the top sources of spending. Automated workflows ensure reviews and approvals continue without the need to dig through email chains or piles of paper as well as digital end to end auditability. With complete visibility, finance teams can also see what payments are due when, and take advantage of early-payment bonuses while avoiding late payment penalties.

Eliminate the complexity that increases costs
Extensions to SAP Concur help automate other steps in the spend management process. Employee expenses can be centrally controlled with automatically enforced spend policies, while travel and expense claims can be made, reviewed and approved within moments through a dedicated mobile application.

Gain visibility for better savings and compliance
With all expense and invoice data in one place, finance managers can get a sharper, real-time view into all aspects of spend. This allows finance managers to see where they need to cut costs or negotiate better terms while improving overall compliance to policies and regulations. With a clear view over what’s been spent and what’s still pending, finance managers can also better plan, forecast and adapt to put resources in the right places.

For more information about how SAP Concur can support municipalities and other public sector organisations, please visit www.concur.co.za or contact [email protected]