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Introducing AppZen Coach: AI-powered recommendations to optimize your company spend

by AppZen July 10, 2024

The finance expert you never had to hire

Regularly making effective expense policy changes and improvements to business processes require data to make the right decisions–and a lot of it. Without it, you’ll get pushback, as company employees, managers, and other executives start asking pointed questions: Are you sure you’re making the right adjustments? On what information are you basing your decision? This policy is going to cause more work for managers–why do we need this change?

If you’ve ever wished you had a dedicated “standard operating procedure expert” to guide you through the intricacies of making those changes, perhaps it’s time to consider a finance coach. A coach could help you analyze your company's expense patterns, pinpoint areas for improvement, and recommend audit processes and workflow optimizations.

AI is getting better at offering helpful advice–but is it ready for this level of analysis? More importantly, is your business ready for AI-powered recommendations?

First, let’s look at the problem.


You can’t make insightful changes while in the dark about your data

It’s important to regularly review and surface any indications of a need for policy adjustments. These might include patterns related to cost savings or concerns about elevated risk, such as repeated purchases from a specific merchant. But those patterns are often hidden within the petabytes of finance data you’ve amassed. Technologists call this “dark data,” the mountains of information that companies collect but effectively can’t access without better software, more time, and a lot of attention.

It’s impossible to make realistic policy changes that have a lasting impact without that kind of insight. But that’s probably what you’ve been doing, up to now: making policy changes based on whatever information you can glean–or, worse, feelings and intuition–crossing your fingers and watching to see what effect those changes have.


Optimizing expense policy is hard

There are several good reasons why you haven’t optimized these processes before now:

  • Finding inefficiencies takes time: It’s hard to identify patterns, pinpoint areas that need improvement, communicate those needs, and obtain stakeholder buy-in.
  • Lack of visibility: Using multiple systems means T&E teams struggle to gain a comprehensive view of expense data across the organization. It’s the dark data problem all over again.
  • Inconsistent policies and enforcement: Purchases are not clearly defined or they’re inconsistently enforced, leading to confusion and making it harder for finance teams to identify non-compliant or fraudulent expenses.
  • Changes may have wide-ranging effects: You want to improve the business, not slow it down. Balancing auditor skepticism with timely employee expense reimbursements adds additional weight to this burden.

Busy auditors are already stretched too thin to consistently analyze, adjust, and manage all of these issues. This is where AI-powered recommendations can help.


Elevating expense audits

If you had time to review every expense over the next several months, you might discover that unauthorized vehicle upgrade expenses for executives were eventually approved in 99% of the cases. You might consider changing your policy to save your auditors time. But that would require a lot of sifting through reports, analyzing data, making recommendations, and securing approval.

Hiring a dedicated reviewer to make game-changing tweaks would be a huge value add. They might suggest rejecting expenses when employees submit gifts under the wrong expense category. They could draft a notification for you, asking those employees to resubmit and suggest the appropriate category. All that fine-tuned optimization would result in real cost savings and make your team more efficient. And it would make you look like a rock star in the eyes of employees who are being paid back more quickly.

But hiring a someone like that just isn’t feasible. Extending your team with a resource is a much better way to help your accounting team scale as the business grows.


Coaching you to excellence

Thankfully, the expert coach you never had to hire is ready to do just that.

AppZen Coach, the latest built-in AI capability for Expense Audit, analyzes historical auditor actions on high-risk items and identifies patterns across high-risk rules, expense types, and merchants. In a dedicated dashboard, it then gives you actionable insights for optimizing your workflows, to help accounting teams fine-tune policies and reduce workloads. This gives you the ability to make better decisions.


Prescriptive Analytics

This isn’t another AI prompt. Its design is the next step in AI and machine learning software, the result of a decade spent building our Mastermind AI platform specifically for finance teams.


AppZen Coach harnesses the power of our proprietary Mastermind AI platform and generative AI to analyze expense report data for patterns and anomalies. It simplifies your expense audit SOPs, making your organization more efficient by recommending actionable insights for improving policy configurations. So how can AppZen Coach benefit your team? 

  • Automates common workload patterns, such as rideshare receipt approvals. When it encounters recurring patterns, such as "Black SUV" rides that were previously flagged but consistently approved, it will autonomously approve similar expenses in the future.
  • Learns to differentiate between problematic expenses and common exceptions. It can recognize patterns in travel booking fees, airfare charges, taxi expenses, and banking fees, and more.
  • Identifies common patterns in unauthorized expenses, such as certain types of clothing purchases, gift cards, or car rental upgrades. It can distinguish between actual policy violations and false positives, like gifts included on catering receipts.

A simplified and more efficient expense audit process makes the whole company happier.

It’s time for accounting teams to become the MVPs of the business. Want to learn more about AppZen Coach and Expense Audit? Contact us today.