When ignorance is not so bliss: Connecting the lack of training with the misuse of P-Cards

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Consider this hypothetical scenario: You work in the travel industry — and you are a P-Card user.

After a hard day of serving customers, you find yourself in your next port of call. Exhausted, you drag yourself and your carry-on to the nearest hotel, and with your P-Card in hand, you check in for a two-night stay.

Nearly two months later, you get a call from your supervisor, and she’s clearly upset. She informs you that you are currently under investigation for improper P-Card usage — specifically because you used your P-Card for that two-night stay.

Now your job is at stake, and you have no clue what you did wrong.

In a P-Card program, company policies and procedures matter

What did go wrong? Travel employees do need to stay overnight at a hotel, and as such, hotel accommodations are work-related expenses. There’s nothing insidious about that, at least on the surface. But when one digs deeper, it’s easy to see that it’s not the use of the P-Card per se but how it’s been used that has prompted the investigation.

That’s because — no matter the industry — company policies and procedures do matter, and they are at the foundation of any P-Card program. Cardholders who don’t know that information are the cracks in that foundation.

Cardholder education and training make all the difference

In this particular scenario, many questions arise: Was the hotel you chose approved for P-Card use? Was the nightly rate too high? Were P-Cards an approved means of reimbursing traveling expenses for this company?

To the uneducated, such P-Card usage seems legitimate. And herein lies the solution to misuse — education. Because the biggest question that remains from this proposed situation is this: How well, if at all, were you as the employee educated on the correct use of your P-Card?

While this scenario is fictional, it sheds light on the issue of P-Card misuse and how it relates to training users and equipping them to use cards correctly. Throughout the real business world, it would be completely reasonable to find  similar transactions take place purely out of ignorance on the part of the P-Card holder, rather than out of any sort of criminal intent.

There’s a clear correlation that can be and must be drawn between user misuse and user education, as well-meaning employees may be misusing P-Cards simply because they don’t know or don’t understand company policies and procedures.

Both the company and the employee suffer from lack of P-Card training

Misuse due to ignorance can be a sad state of affairs, for both the company and the employees charged with the misuse. In such a situation, the employees at fault don’t mean any harm. They might believe wholeheartedly that their behavior with P-Cards is right and just. It’s difficult to take any action against an employee accused of misuse who responds, “But I didn’t know!” to such allegations — especially if cracks in the company’s P-Card program truly allowed for policy ambiguity.

Resist the temptation to skip cardholder training

Without a doubt, it’s easy and tempting to side-step training when implementing a P-Card program: Hand out a card and a physical manual to each user, and call it a day. But handling a P-Card program this way almost ensures missteps by users who will make assumptions about its policies and procedures — and eventually, when enough errors are made, the program will either have to be scratched due to the loss of funds and disfavor, or it will need go back to the square one of implementation with the proper training anyway.

There’s an old saying: “Knowledge is power.” For P-Card users and the company for which they work, being “in the know” about policies and procedures can make all the difference in creating a successful P-Card program.

Use cardholder training to reign in misuse

Before your own company’s P-Card program loses control of policies and procedures followed due to ignorance on the part of its users, consider implementing your own training program now. Card Integrity’s cardholder training services allow for full customization, to create a unique training program that integrates your company’s specific policies and procedures. There will be no doubt that your company took the steps necessary to educate your employees regarding proper use of P-Cards for your business. Following up with Data-Wise — Card Integrity’s monitoring system — lets you know just how well your P-Card users are doing with the training they’ve received.

To learn more about Card Integrity and how our cardholder training can help you educate your employees effectively, call us at 630-501-1507, or click HERE to contact us via our website today!

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