Five Best Practices for Tracking Card Program Goals

Business managers tracking card program goals at computer

The start of a new year, either a fiscal or a calendar year, is a great time to reflect on how your card program performed and decide on goals for the program going forward. To do this successfully, your team will need to set goals, have the right metrics based on your goals, and then start tracking these goals in the card program.

If you could use a refresher on setting goals, read our article, “Setting Goals for a More Successful Card Program“. Then, return here to continue to learn how to track them.

While setting goals for your card program can be an easy task, successfully tracking card program goals can make for a heavier workload. Your team may even reconsider tracking card program goals, especially when complications arise while tracking expense data:

  • Difficulty tracking multiple expense systems and data sources, including bank data
  • A variety of payment methods to track: P-Cards, T&E cards, One Cards, Fleet or Fuel Cards, AP invoices, or out-of-pocket expenses
  • Different goals to track for your team and the department heads
  • How to distribute the data to all departments in a timely manner

To keep the process simple, we created a list of five best practices to help program managers successfully track card program goals.

Set a Baseline

Before tracking your goals, it makes sense to start with a strong foundation. Begin to track your goals after creating a baseline based on your spend data.

What is a Baseline?

As defined by Will Kenton at, “A baseline is a fixed point of reference that is used for comparison purposes. In business, the success of a project or product is often measured against a baseline number for costs, sales, or any number of other variables. A project may exceed a baseline number or fail to meet it.”

For a card program, a baseline takes into account all of your spend data from various systems and sources. Once you have all the data, such as from the previous year, your team can compare the current spend with the baseline of last year.

Keep Goals Flexible

Goals are not as static as one might imagine. They can act as a moving target. For example, the pandemic has shown many procurement professionals how unexpected spend situations can arise out of nowhere. Unforeseen increases, such as purchasing PPE (personal protective equipment) or finding new expenses related to employees working from home, portray the pivotal changes that occurred in business expenses in the past year. And more likely, these changes were not initially calculated into the goals of last year. For your new year goals, this means frequently checking them to see where changes might be needed.

Changes to spend can disrupt your goals. This can also signal a time to check your card program and re-evaluate your baseline. If your baseline looks at spend data from last year, does it need to change? Goals need to accurately represent your current spend situation and the baseline should act as common historical data. Keeping goals flexible in your card program allows for better representation of spend even as changes occur.

Align Program Goals with Policy

Do your program goals align with your purchasing policy? Bringing the two together ensures that cardholders are following policy. Having a specific policy goal helps the card program to flourish. For example, a purchasing policy may have restrictions on gift card purchases. By tracking for noncompliant gift card purchases, the program can alleviate wasteful spending. Goals that align policy with the purchases made means that you can also track potential fraud and stop losing funds. Tracking policy and expenses can also alert your team and department heads to potential cost savings when purchases should be made with contracted suppliers.

Maintain Open and Consistent Communication

Successful communication allows each person involved with the goal to understand the progress that is or is not being made towards that goal. More importantly, communication holds all of those involved with the goal accountable for the results.

Financial leaders and department heads have a vested interest in protecting spend as well. Though, getting the right reporting in a timely manner can be a tricky matter unless departments work together. To overcome this difficulty, program managers need to track and report on expenses, then quickly communicate them with goals specific to each department.

Stay on Track

It’s easy enough to set the goals and forget them. Establishing a routine for comparing goals to your baseline will keep your team and your goals on track.

To achieve goals, program managers need to recognize when expenses are heading in the right direction or have taken a wrong turn. A monthly or quarterly schedule of checking on your goal’s progress will help ensure that your program goals continue to move forward.

A regular checkup allows enough time to make changes either to your purchasing patterns, your goals, or your policy to keep you on track. Having department heads on board with checking goals will ensure that you’re moving forward to achieve department goals as well. Staying on track to achieve program goals comes down to routine checkups – a habit that can promote the health of your card program.

A Healthy Start to Tracking Card Program Goals

A great way to monitor the health of any card program is through realistic and measurable goals. To combat the fatigue that can come with data overload when monitoring card program goals, Card Integrity provides a wide range of goal-tracking methods. There is something possible for every department to explore and give them the analytics they need to see if they are reaching their goals.

  • Trend reports
  • Data dashboards
  • Alerts of potential fraud and misuse
  • Goals clearly outlined in an overview report
  • Goals compared to your baseline or other pertinent metrics.

Card Integrity’s Data-Wise service and Forensic Financial Specialists are here to help your card program to thrive. Our extensive reporting library is customized to your purchasing policy and is scalable to fit a wide range of program sizes and types of expenses.

Our reporting and insights have helped our clients not only track, but exceed, their card program goals. For an in-depth look at how Card Integrity helped clients achieve their card program goals, read a success story.

To see how your card program can benefit from having expense reporting with a goal-oriented approach, ask for an online demonstration from Card Integrity today.

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