How to Gain Real-Time Spend Visibility for Free

How to Gain Real-Time Spend Visibility for Free

Ever since technology has become an integral part of business operations, it’s made unlocking powerful insights easier than ever before. Unbridled access to critical spend data is helping companies streamline their decision-making.

While you may think that these insights come at a steep price, and there are some costly business reporting options (like ERPs) on the market, you can also access pretty powerful data for free. 

We’re going to focus on how you can gain free access to real-time reporting on your business’s cash flow. After all, when you know how much money is going in and out of your company at any given time, you can make better-informed decisions.

What is spend visibility?

Spend visibility is the ability to access real-time reports on your company’s spending. These reports can include things like corporate card transactions, accounts payable, and more. Real-time spend visibility gives budget owners the control they need to manage cash flow and gives finance teams their time back.

Before technology-enabled spend visibility, many companies were left in the dark about how much money was actually going out of the business at any given time. After all, budgeting was just an optimistic exercise to plan spending that would only work if every employee at the company strictly adhered to the rules. Unfortunately, expense reports and lengthy bookkeeping processes obscure access to spending data, making it impossible for budget owners to know if they’re staying on track until days after the books have been closed.

However, knowing exactly how much is being spent at any given time shouldn't be a pipe dream. It should be a standard capability that modern companies can expect and rely on. 

What are the benefits of real-time spend visibility?

The ability to stay on budget is an obvious benefit of real-time spend visibility. But what are its side effects?

1. Spend visibility empowers budget owners

Without spend visibility, budget owners set budgets but are in the dark about how their teams are spending each month until after expense reports have been submitted and the books have been closed, which can take days to weeks. Unfortunately, this process makes planning difficult.

With real-time reporting capabilities, however, budget owners can monitor spending as it happens, instead of tracking budgets manually and infrequently. Now they can make operational decisions without needing the finance team to run interim reports.

2. Real-time reporting empowers employees 

Magical things happen when staff members comprehend the spending policy and budget they have to work with and are equipped with tools that make following these guidelines easier. All of a sudden, they feel like valued partners who are responsible for the company’s success, instead of just rule followers. 

After all, employee retention rates rise when team members are engaged at work, because they feel like they’re contributing to the big picture. With costly employee turnover as high as 21% annually in the tech industry, retention can be critical to start-up success.

3. Spend visibility lets you act more strategically

By freeing your finance team from rushed expense reports and reimbursements, they can think bigger when spend visibility is part of the equation. Instead of spending 80% of their time gathering and cleaning data for spend analysis, finance can spend 80% of their time analyzing and advising on things like scenario planning for your revenue teams so they can adapt quickly to sudden market changes.

With real-time reporting, CFOs and their finance teams can switch their focus from policing towards working on projects that impact the bottom line.

4. Instant reporting facilitates cross-functional projects

When your finance team can track spending across departments, it can be the go-to resource to help cross-functional business units make shared investments. They can take on a strategic advising role by providing democratized access to spend analytics, unifying project management systems, or helping hire shared headcount, for roles like product marketing or DevOps.

5. Visibility enables cost savings opportunities

When you can see how money is being spent—as it’s being spent—you can reduce the misuse of funds. You can stop spending in its tracks and course-correct as mistakes are being made, rather than while going through expense reports or reviewing the books weeks after they’ve closed. 

Misuse doesn’t have to be an extravagant maverick spend, like Botox treatments paid for by the company card, but can be as innocuous-seeming as office supplies that weren’t needed. Compounded, this tail spend can make a dent in the operational budget.

6. Real-time reporting strengthens company culture

Spend visibility can make a meaningful impact on culture by making every unit feel involved in the financial success of the company. Transparency lets employees base their spending decisions on results, rather than on restrictive internal spend controls. When every team member has a stake in the financial process, they can take proactive steps, instead of reactive steps, towards caring for the company’s finances.

How can I get better visibility into spend for free?

Love don’t cost a thing, and neither should spend visibility. Spend management software, like, equips you with the tools you need to access real-time insights into spending. Our freemium model lets you use our powerful solutions for free.

Free corporate cards for every team member come standard with our real-time reporting capabilities that empower budget owners to own their budgets and enable finance to become a strategic partner to the business.

Lola lets you replace expense reports with software-enabled corporate cards, so you can have an instant view into money going out of the business, rather than waiting 30 days+ before you get visibility into employee expenses. Lola’s budget-to-actual reports let you monitor expenses against your budget planning and controls in a single view. 

FAQs about spend visibility

What is spend visibility? Real-time reporting into your company’s cash flow.

What are the benefits of real-time spend visibility? Empowering budget owners, acting more strategically, facilitating cross-functional projects, and more.

How can I get better visibility into spend for free? Use’s freemium spend management software, which comes with a software-enabled, fee-free corporate card and powerful reporting capabilities. Get started for free today.

About the Author: Ana Cvetkovic
Ana Cvetkovic is a freelance writer for She is also the CEO of BLOOM Digital Marketing, a creative marketing agency that specializes in creating demand generation content for SaaS companies in the hospitality and travel industries.