Toffer Grant, CEO
Established in 2006 as a secure SaaS solution, PEX provides advanced and efficient workforce spending solutions to a variety of verticals including education, nonprofits, events and entertainment, and contracting and construction industries, among others. The firm enables proactive workforce spend management capabilities, streamlined operations, better auditing processes, advanced card controls, and card usage visibility via a platform across website, mobile app, and APIs. With these coherent spending solutions, card holders and administrators can keep track of all PEX cards and manage field spending.
In an interview with CIO Applications, Toffer Grant, CEO of PEX, shares insights on how his organization helps the construction companies authorize, enable, and track their expenses efficiently.
What, in your view, are the challenges prevailing in the construction industry, which have manifested opportunities for PEX?
The construction industry deals with office and field operations that require continuous purchases for raw materials, renting of machines and equipment, and a variety of site-based needs. For most of the personnel dealing with these purchases, it is often a hassle to get approvals, put spending power in employees’ hands and then deal with the receipts and paperwork afterwards. It all results in wastage of time. Traditional solutions like cash, checks or credit-based cards simply fall short in enabling more efficient operations. In a day and age where technology is fueling efficiencies in operations across the board, the PEX platform was purpose built to reinvent and simplify the entire spend management process. Our platform eliminates many of the steps in the process to enable spending so that projects keep moving, while maintaining control over how and when the funds are spent. What used to take hours or even days now takes minutes or seconds. After the purchase, we offer advanced tools to track and report on spending, in real time.
The trends and requirements of the construction industry continue to change. Could you brief us about PEX’s approach towards keeping up with these trends?
The need for automation, digitization, and leveraging applications and SaaS-based technologies is increasing dramatically in the construction industry. Lately, with the adoption of smartphones, mobile apps have become a trend and keeping up with these trends, PEX has introduced a mobile application as a complement to our web app to make workforce spending efficient. Today it is about enabling operations where and when they occur and we enable our customers to do just that. We also have a suite of APIs that our clients use to further streamline how they get the work done efficiently and with more transparency.
PEX is clearly changing the way field-based professionals manage spend on work-related purchases and get reimbursed for them. Could you shed some light on the features and functionality of PEX’s platform facilitating this change?
The platform has three access points—a web app, a mobile app, and a suite of APIs. The platform enables single-point access to a robust set of spending controls. We built it this way to give our customers control and eliminate the time to contact a bank or credit card company to make program changes. Our clients can access the platform to do everything from order new cards; funding or defunding cards in real time; setting up spending rules to limit where and when cards can be used (e.g. disabling the ability to use them in ‘Bars and Lounges”); or access real-time transaction data or reports. The mobile app for cardholders (there is also one for Admins) allows them to capture and upload receipts and attach them directly to a transaction. The audit and reporting process is carried out faster and with less rework to track down receipts or get approvals for unexpected spending.
For example, an administrator transfers and maintain funds in the base PEX account and they, via the desktop or mobile app, fund cards based on what type of spend they want to enable. For executives or managers, they can set automated rules that enable higher levels of spend without preauthorization. For junior or temporary employees, they can maintain a $0 card balance until a specific request comes in. If approved, funds can be placed on that card in seconds via the app, in less time than it takes for a cashier to ring up a purchase. After card holders make purchases, they can use the mobile app to take a picture of receipts and add them directly to the transaction. The accounting office can see all this in real time. No more waiting for receipts to be submitted before they can reconcile accounts.
PEX allows banks and other businesses to integrate its platform with their operational or accounting systems through APIs. How flexible is your system in terms of communicating with the other existing systems in a client’s organization?
Our API solutions are intended to enable clients to have the flexibility to build the features and functionality of the PEX platform into their own internal systems. By doing so, our clients get the benefits of PEX and the added advantage of being able to manage spending directly from the system they use to manage operations or bookkeeping. This helps them save more time and ensure transparency into spend. Accounting teams can consider a process that may have taken days, but now takes hours. We offer support for clients during the process of implementing via our API as well as on-going support so that they get the most out of our solution.
PEX has also streamlined the process to transfer out data directly to a variety of expense management and accounting platforms such as Quickbooks and Xero.
In its presence of over a decade, PEX has assisted numerous businesses in workforce spend management. Please share a few of these instances where your solutions helped streamline shortcomings of customers?
One great example is a disaster recovery organization that deploys former military service members and first responders following natural disasters, like the recent floods in Texas. Their teams provide a variety of disaster recovery services including things like clearing dangerous debris. Time is of the essence and that relies on quickly getting spending power in the hands of their volunteers. They needed quick ways to enable their teams to buy supplies, food, fuel, and all the things that go along with sustaining teams in the field. They had been using checks and cash, but that took too much time when time was critical. They adopted PEX and today provide cards to their deployed teams and enable spending in real time as needed. This enabled the team to focus on the more important work of recovery in the communities most affected. Despite the speed, they also have enhanced transparency into how funds are being spent, also ensuring better auditability.
Another instance is that of a solar panel manufacturer who deploys multiple field teams on a daily basis to install and service solar systems. In their case, each team leader has a PEX card and the cards are provisioned with only amounts needed for each job when the teams are given their work orders for the day. The main office team is able to maintain a daily view of spend and keep control over spend, enabling the field teams to more efficiently get the work done.
Having established itself as a workforce spending solutions firm, how does the future look like for PEX?
We see our clients continuing to seek more and more efficient ways to streamline operations and take costs out of the system. As a result, our focus for the future is to continue to build on our workforce spend platform to add features that simplify and automate how they enable teams to spend. Those additions will likely include expansion of virtual cards (that can remove the need to have a physical card), more advanced and integrated work-flows to approve and audit spending as well as more advanced data solutions that will further automate the manual corporate spending process.