Tradeshift Go is nearing sixth months since its official launch. Given the flurry of press and recognition, most recently the “Most Innovative Product” award from Paystream Advisors, it’s fair to step back and ask what users are experiencing and share their learnings.
At Tradeshift, we’d never build a product we wouldn’t use ourselves, so our internal finance team helped one of our departments to be the first to get up and running on Go. What follows is an interview between Dena Weinstein, Assistant Controller and Christopher Jablonski, Director of Content and Communications.
Chris: Let’s start with Dena. Tell us a little bit about the finance team at Tradeshift.
Dena: We have six people who handle all of the regular accounting functions you’d expect: payables, receivables, working with other teams if they’re signing contracts and vendor terms. In addition, we are consolidating all of our financials for our strategy team. We also handle expense reports, payroll, HR onboarding (commuter deductions, 401K enrollments, HSA, benefits). People think we just do payroll and expense reports but it’s a pretty diverse bucket of things!
Chris: When did you implement Tradeshift Go? And how did it go from the technical side?
Dena: We went live in June, rolling it out one team at a time. We’re getting results, so the process is moving forward. We want IT and our office operations team to onboard next because they are the ones spending the most money.
Implementation was really simple. As far as back-end finance, we exported our charted accounts from Netsuite, imported them into Go, and we were pretty much set. We did the same with our cost centers and business units since we have two levels of tracking for analytics. We wanted to have all of that in Go so we could easily export all data about the credit card spend and report on it on a monthly basis.
Chris: Did you have to change or add a new bank account?
Dena: We did need to open a new credit card account, but it was really simple and took just one phone call. After implementation, we assigned the team leader of the department piloting Go as the expense report approver for end users. It was a seamless process. Immediately, it dawned upon everyone that the process of managing expenses, which is very time-consuming, was largely going to disappear with Go, which meant we were more inclined to use it.
Chris: Regarding expense reports, how much of an issue were these before Go?
Dena: Before Go, the process took hours of manual labor, not just on expense reports, but also the extremely arduous and routine credit card reconciliation process. If you like expense reports you’ll hate this. For us, Go was saving time on something we didn’t have an automated process for.
One happy Tradeshift Go user.
Chris: But there’s still need for some reconciliation, right?
Dena: Yes, but it’s so much more useful and human-friendly. Before Go, a month could go by and you could have a $5,000 purchase for something we’ve never heard about and not know who bought it. I’d have no idea because a credit card was being passed around a whole department. What was it even for? Was this approved? Now, with Go’s export file I immediately know who bought it, who approved it, and have the entire request conversation. I see details such as if the employee was at a conference or they chose that specific keyboard because her manager thought she’d be more productive with that expensive purchase.
Chris: And all that information is tied to the transaction?
Dena: Correct, it’s all tied to the transaction which is tied to the credit card statement. So yes, we still need to reconcile, but now, rather than chasing down every single team with statements, all of the information is consolidated.
Chris: I can see how that can save time for your team to focus on strategic projects. To add more color to a purchase process, can you describe a typical transaction you’ve seen with Go?
Dena: Amazon is probably the most common place where people buy things. With the Go plugin, they can look for whatever they want, such as headphones. Employees can find a model on Amazon, then message their managers through the conversational UI and type in “I would like headphones” and upon approval, get a virtual card with a spend amount that covers the cost of the headphones and shipping. Users don’t have to print out a receipt or submit an expense report. It removes the burden on the employee to put their company expenses on their personal credit card and get reimbursed later.
Chris: Can you describe the approval workflow?
Dena: It’s pretty easy. Along with the cost center business units and GL codes, we also uploaded a list of our employees and managers, so it sets up the structure of our company automatically. For example, if I was looking to buy something, I would message the VP of Finance, he would see what I wanted to buy, and approve it from there.
Chris: Is there a spending threshold that, if met, the CFO needs to approve and the request skips through to his level?
Dena: Yes. What’s cool is we can build that in and it doesn’t have to be the same for everyone. If you’ve got a newer employee who you don’t quite know yet, you might want to give him a lower limit. Finance is about building trust, so Go protects from someone running off with the company card.
Chris: What would you tell other organizations considering Go?
Dena: For end users and for Finance, Go saves a lot of time. It lets employees just do their jobs and get their work done. I think this a very important shift–the finance team can now shed manual processes and actually spend more time being strategic.
Chris: Great. Thank you for sharing your insights.
Dena: You are welcome.
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