Q&A with Sharon Nouh, founder and CEO expensemanager

The one where we quiz expensemanager boss Sharon Nouh on all things business, technology, and partnering with Wiise. 

As part of our Wiise Spotlight series, we catch up with partners and customers to talk about the role of technology and cloud innovation in business today. Check out the snippets from our tete-a-tete with Sharon Nouh, the founder and CEO of a homegrown spend-management platform. 

Your story is incredible: you’ve built, and now lead, a software company that challenges the status quo for Australian businesses. Tell us more about Sharon, the business innovator.

Some of the first businesses I worked with were travel agencies, which helped me see early on how technology, combined with global distribution systems, could revolutionise an entire industry. It was then that I knew I wanted to use technology to make a positive change in peoples’ lives, and in the way businesses operate.

Speaking of change, what challenges were you seeing in the market when you first identified the need for a solution like expensemanager?

Finance teams are infamous for dealing with paper-heavy, manual processes that are both taxing and costly. Chasing up receipts and paying thousands of supplier invoices is their day-to-day reality, but this was made infinitely worse by the Covid-19 pandemic when organisations were forced to pivot overnight and staff suddenly becoming remote. With no Australian providers offering a complete spend management platform, finance teams were left working with multiple systems and a lack of local support.

expensemanager has come a long way since you started it. Can you speak to how the company has grown, and the larger impact it has had on Australian businesses?

Small businesses are seen as the backbone of the Australian economy and very large businesses are rare in this country. But between the two, is a significant sector that's remained mostly overlooked in terms of business software availability. Australia’s mid-market makes up just 2.3% of all businesses, but despite that relatively small number – around 51,000 – these businesses manage to have a significant impact on the economy. Around a quarter of the nation’s workforce is employed by mid-sized enterprises.

We deliberately decided to target mid-sized businesses where automation of expense management and accounts payable processes have traditionally been out of reach and put in the "too hard" or "too expensive" basket. We were honoured to have KFC as our first client. Since then, we've signed hundreds of leading brands across the ANZ region including Ronald McDonald Charity House, Soul Origin, Best & Less, Peoplebank, Guide Dogs – and a favourite of mine – the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF). Our brand is loved by small, medium and large organisations who are saving hours of admin every day and keeping costs down.

Ultimately, when businesses thrive, the Australian economy thrives. Small and medium businesses are helping drive growth in both jobs and the economy, and are harbinger of future development and innovation. They need the right tools, support, and environment and we're here to help them do that by developing tools that make business easier.

What, in your mind, is the greatest hesitation when it comes to customers adopting a new technology? And have there been shifts of late?

There seems to be a general sense that CFO’s are realising that to stay competitive and thrive, they need to go digital and embrace automation. While there has been interest, finance teams are often too time-poor to put the wheels in motion. Lack of local technology providers has also contributed to hesitation in adopting new technology and, not to mention, concerns over maintenance and ongoing support.

But Covid-19 literally pushed companies over the tipping point from a tech point of view, and transformed the business landscape forever.

In the recent Gartner 2021 Trends & Priorities Report, a key finding has been that '82% of CFO’s will increase investments in digital capabilities, indicating digitalisation as a leading priority'. We feel that not only are organisations more motivated than ever to find new and innovative ways to help boost efficiencies, but are understanding that digitisation is almost a necessity for long-term business health.

expensemanager can help local businesses move away from their ‘paper and payment misery’, but what's the incentive to connecting expensemanager with a cloud-based ERP software like Wiise?

Connecting expensemanager with an ERP system such as Wiise opens up a world of benefits for organisations. Through our Wiise integration, organisations can experience automatic reconciliation, enhanced visibility, and tracking. Plus, it can make the daunting tasks of auditing and tax calculation a breeze. Regardless of how complex the data feed or the finance system is, expensemanager ensures that data is shared accurately, securely, and effortlessly.

What makes the Wiise x expensemanager partnership special?

We see our partnership and the integration with Wiise as highly beneficial for our joint clients. Like us, Wiise is an Australian company dedicated to helping local businesses achieve success through innovative cloud technology. expensemanager and Wiise work collaboratively, bringing the best of ERP and cloud spend-management, to deliver an integrated and intelligent platform that helps businesses streamline and digitise their accounting processes.

From a leader’s perspective, what are some of the things guiding the direction in which expensemanager will go next?

So, the way forward for our company is a three-part answer.

Continual evolution: Businesses are looking to automate many of their business practices and, as we've done in the past, we'll continue to look at what other business processes can be automated and develop new modules.

Staying a leader in our space: That, as well as making sure our staff are part of the vision, is incredibly important to me. It’s important to me that our team can see how the work they complete each day contributes to something bigger. I value their input and the knowledge that they bring to their roles and a lot of decisions around our software development is a collaborative approach. This gives everyone a sense of ownership to our product.

Keeping our company local: Our contribution to the community is really that we've kept our entire operation at home, in Australia. Innovation is an essential part of driving future economic growth, but this will only happen if we nurture and support our tech sector and ensuring Australian businesses have sustainable access to high quality supply of ICT skills.

 

As one of Australia's leading cloud spend-management platforms, expensemanager is committed to helping businesses streamline and digitise their accounting processes.

Interested in finding out more about expensemanager and their Wiise integration? You can read about their story here and check out more customer stories here

And as always, if you have any questions or would like to get in touch, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at hello@wiise.com.