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Last updated Sep 29, 2023

How to buy the best spend management system for your company.

Written by Laura Slauson
4 minute read
spend management platform requirements

TL;DR: It’s in everyone’s interest to get a software buy decision right from the beginning. We believe that the more educated you are as a buyer, the happier you will be with your decision. And yes, we also feel confident that the deeper your understanding of everything a best-of-breed spend management system is capable of, the more likely you are to choose Airbase.

The right spend management platform will have a profound impact on your company, one that extends beyond the finance team to transform the way the entire company spends money. That knowledge can feel both inspiring — this is your chance to make a real contribution — and overwhelming. Nobody wants to make the wrong decision, and the sheer volume of competing claims and products out there can easily lead to selection paralysis.

To get the ball rolling and help find the best platform for your company, use our Buyer’s Guide to Spend Management: Six performance criteria. Our framework of six performance criteria helps organize the process from the initial research to a best-fit final purchase.

We created the guide in part because we know that making a confident purchase is becoming increasingly difficult for many companies. In fact, research shows that fully 40% of B2B purchasers second guess their decision once they make it. One factor is that the buying process itself is getting more complex. A recent Gartner Report says that 10 years ago, a B2B purchase involved an average of five stakeholders. Today, that average is 11, and the number of stakeholders often goes as high as 20. Whatever the demands of your company, the following steps will give you what you need to present a clear and concise picture of the alternatives and their importance to your organization.

Use an evaluation framework.

In addition to providing a framework for your evaluation, the criteria can help you prioritize functionality for your company. For example, if you foresee rapid growth in the future, scalability is important. If you anticipate greater complexity in business operations, pay close attention to the depth of features offered by each vendor.

The spend management market is growing quickly, but we focus on a handful of the players who claim to provide this functionality:

*Bill.com purchased Divvy in May 2021, but the products remain separate solutions at this time.

The guide looks at those vendors’ performance in each of these six areas:

1. Platform capabilities: Many solutions claim to be full spend management solutions, but lack key functionality to truly handle every dollar of non-payroll spend that leaves a company. We analyze each offering to determine exactly which finance functions they offer.

2. Depth of features: The best platforms have at least feature parity with point solutions, so you should never feel like you have to sacrifice functionality with a consolidated system. We compare how each solution handles the following features:

3. Flexibility: You may wish to prioritize a platform that is highly customizable and where separate modules that fit your unique needs can be selected. It should also be easily accessible on the go, and help you respond quickly to change and unexpected events. The guide evaluates how each vendor handles the following features which enable responsiveness and agility:

4. Integrations: Your spend management system should integrate seamlessly with your GL, and most do with at least some of the main vendors. For an even more streamlined experience, look for integrations with other tools, like HRIS systems to simplify user provisioning and deprovisioning. We take a look at the following integrations for each vendor:

GL integrations:

HRIS integrations:

  • Rippling
  • Gusto

Digital wallet integrations:

  • Google Pay
  • Apple Pay

5. Scalability: After investing time in choosing a spend management system and going through the implementation process, you’ll want a solution that will grow with you. The guide looks at each vendor in terms of:

6. UI/User experience: Our analysis of third-party reviews revealed that the most important factor in how a user feels about a software product is whether or not it is easy to use. We consider the following factors, which all contribute to a positive user experience:

Use a vendor scorecard to stay organized.

Stay organized with a thorough checklist that you can use to rate each vendor. Our scorecard makes it easy to compare vendors and ensure that no stone is left unturned. The scorecard can support an RFP process, or act as a single source of information for your own side-by-side comparisons. Our scorecard allows you to weight the features you are comparing so that you make sure you are selecting the best solution for your company. You can find the scorecard at the very end of the guide.

Nothing compares to actually observing a solution in action. If you’d like to see how Airbase can meet your spend management needs, schedule a demo today.

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