December 20, 2021

Reflecting on Ramp's finance automation journey in 2021


There is a revolution happening in the world of finance. Financial operations, largely overlooked by technology, is quickly becoming automated. This is paving the way for real-time data to power better business decisions. 

Over the past year, we’ve been laser-focused and intentional about creating products and functionalities that align with this idea of automation. You shouldn’t need an army of financial operators to reconcile late expense reports, random invoices, and opaque credit card statements. Just as you don’t need an engineering degree to drive your car.

You simply need a modern financial platform driven by automation. 

The changing tides of finance 

The evolution and modernization of financial platforms is more necessary than ever before. The world is moving faster but the finance tech stack has failed to keep pace. While many of the routine tasks in our personal lives are automated, we still have to submit expense reports, code transactions, and review invoices manually.

As a result of poor technological advancements, finance teams resort to burdensome red-tape processes that slow down decision-making and capital allocation. In other words, finance teams still spend much of their time manually operating broken processes. Without real-time visibility and control, every dollar is seen as a risk, not as potential. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In our vision, finance teams work collaboratively and seamlessly across functions, with all teams moving towards a common business goal. Everyone wins. 

Reflecting on a year of growth and changes

This year was pivotal for Ramp in many ways. We started the year as a corporate card solution driven by automating expense management and helping companies save money. One of the biggest moments for us was our acquisition of Buyer, which brought negotiations into the modern world. Now SaaS contract negotiations are handled by our dedicated team, giving businesses precious time back and saving them money.

We're still focused on being the best corporate card solution on the market and remain committed to our 1.5% cashback incentive. However, there’s so much more to our story. 

Throughout our journey, we realized that the opportunity ahead of us was significantly bigger than we ever imagined. We had the opportunity to redefine not just how finance teams make payments, but how they fundamentally operate and make decisions. We believe that by automating operations and enabling finance teams to control and move money in real time, we can help optimize how capital flows to maximize business performance. 

So we set out on a journey to redefine the future of finance by incorporating automation, real-time visibility, seamless integrations and more into a single finance platform. 

Envisioning a fully automated finance stack

But why have we envisioned this next era of finance management? Why is finance automation our North Star? Well, it’s because we genuinely believe in the value and importance of time. Our mission is to give financial leaders deep intelligence and powerful tools to maximize their most precious resources: every minute and every dollar. 

Our goal is to give our customers an unfair advantage—the ability to manage money faster, more intelligently, and with more peace of mind. This can be made possible through automation, with integrations, rules, and workflows that make manual work a thing of the past.

We set out to improve and automate how payments are made, how invoices are paid, how expenses are coded, cash is leveraged, and purchases are approved. As a result, finance teams can become more strategic and lean—and the entire company starts moving faster. 

Over the past year, we’ve evolved our platform towards this big-picture concept of automation. We’ve been focused on delivering best-in-class products and features that get our customers one step closer to a modern financial platform. As I reflect on the year 2021, here are some of the products and features that got us closer to our goal of reinventing the way finance teams operate. 

Launching Ramp Bill Pay, the most automated way to pay your bills

The majority of company spend still happens via invoices and is paid via bank transfers and checks. We tried to imagine a better, faster way to complete this process to give finance teams time to focus on other tasks—Bill Pay was our solution. To truly own automated financial operations, we expanded our platform to help finance teams modernize their AP processes. 

Through Ramp Bill Pay, finance teams can now:

  • Digitize invoices automatically through advanced OCR by simply forwarding an email
  • Create and sync bills with their ERP with advanced GL coding
  • Pay vendors with single-use virtual cards, bank transfers, checks or wires in one-click
  • Collect vendor bank accounts and tax information seamlessly
  • Surface duplicate invoices automatically

The result is the fastest way to automatically pay your bills on the market. We’ve moved tens of millions of dollars since launch. 

Creating modern expense policies that enforce themselves

Expense policies are the contract between the finance team that has capital and the rest of the company that needs it. They’re essential but most times, tend to be hard to find and static. To help, we digitized policies within Ramp and encoded them in every Ramp card.  

Instead of asking employees to fill in tedious and error prone expense reports, we flipped the process on its head. With Ramp, employees simply need to swipe and the Ramp software takes care of the rest, automatically. Some other highlights include:

  • Declining transactions that are out-of-policy based on transaction amount or merchant category, or even the merchant’s name—an industry first
  • Pulling and matching receipts from your email, travel platform, or supplier portal—directly to your transaction
  • Categorizing the transaction based on the card, merchant, department or category rules implemented on Ramp, across any field you’ve defined in your ERP
  • Flag any transactions that is out of your defined policy, including flight class, hotel nightly rates or per diems
  • Locking cards if receipts aren’t submitted within a designated period

The result is the easiest way to manage expenses, ever. 

Integrating deeply with your tech stack to automate workflows

To automate work, we needed to plug deeply into a company’s existing software. So this year, we integrated with dozens of SaaS tools for productivity, HRIS, accounting, and more. These integrations make onboarding, employee management, and accounting processes significantly easier. Here’s how:

  • Integrate with your HR information system such as Rippling, Gusto, Justworks, or Workday to automatically invite and manage employees onto Ramp with the right permissions, spending privileges, and manager hierarchy. 
  • Integrate with your company Gmail account to automatically pull receipts, invoices and contracts and match them to the right entity on Ramp.
  • Integrate with your accounting systems such as Xero, QuickBooks, NetSuite and 20+ others via our universal adapters—including any custom field and multi-entity setup

With these integrations, finance teams have significantly more time back to focus on the strategic side of finance. 

Powering all purchases with unparalleled intelligence

One of the biggest pain points faced by finance teams is the lack of visibility between them and the rest of the business. When it comes to making purchases, finance teams are often left in the dark until it’s too late. 

It’s time for finance teams to become a resource to leverage instead of an obstacle to overcome. To help with that collaboration and flow of information, we significantly upgraded our product to ensure finance teams had the context to unblock business teams quickly. With Ramp, you can now: 

  • Request spend with Ramp by providing all the context and quotes 
  • Instantly see if someone is already paying for a subscription to prevent duplicate purchases
  • Facilitate multi-step approvals through the company to ensure the right people sign off
  • Centralize all contracts and vendor information in a single view
  • Get notified if you are overpaying for a subscription and engage our expert negotiation team to save you up to 27% in one click

We’re helping build trust among teams, improving employee empowerment in the company, and saving millions of dollars for our customers. 

An eye towards the future of finance

It’s time for us to give finance teams the technology they need. It’s time for financial operations to be automated instead of tedious. It’s time for decisions to be made based on real-time and contextualized data, not spreadsheets. It’s time for finance to lead with context, not control. 

Welcome to the world of finance automation. We’re selling finance on autopilot so that leaders can focus on running their core business, better than ever before. We’re transforming financial operations from a burden to a competitive advantage. With more automation and intelligence, more companies will take root, grow, and thrive. More innovation will take hold and our society will move forward, faster.

I want to take a moment to thank every single customer that has been with us on this journey. You have taught us so much and have helped shape our product in more ways than we can count. Thank you for trusting us with a core part of running your business. Our mission since day one has been to serve you. This is just beginning, and I am confident that we’re on the journey to incredible horizons together. 

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Geoff Charles
Head of Product, Ramp

Geoff has been building financial services for over 10 years, ranging from management consulting at Oliver Wyman to product development at LendUp, Nomis Solutions, and Mission Lane.

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