Cashflow is the lifeblood of any company, especially a newly formed one. That’s why AbbVie made overhauling its procurement processes a priority as the pharma company prepared for its spinoff from Abbott Laboratories. After reviewing multiple bank proposals, AbbVie chose Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) as its new card provider for worldwide purchasing, travel and meeting expenses. The results: increased card acceptance globally, enhanced visibility into spending and streamlined operations.
A GLOBAL SOLUTION
AbbVie tasked BofAML with providing a single card platform spanning 62 countries in which they operate. The bank responded with a phased rollout to match AbbVie's project timelines that organized the countries into 11 groups, beginning with countries in EMEA.
"It all started with deep listening" says Cathy Tillman, director of treasury support services at AbbVie. "From the outset, the bank team took the time to understand our needs and help with country-specific requirements. Our new card program integrates with our other systems, including travel management, SAP and Concur—which greatly simplifies how we operate."
The successful EMEA rollout proved a useful template for its other regions, including North America, Asia Pacific and Latin America. In some of these markets, BofAML issues cards through local partner banks—which AbbVie finds advantageous. "We get the same level of support globally, whether working directly with BofAML or with its local issuing banks," notes Lana Clark, manager, global corporate card & TSS training communications at AbbVie. "The local banks provide the same in-market service, plus we benefit from BofAML's guidance through the onboarding and underwriting processes around the globe."
AbbVie at a glance
WORKING CAPITAL BENEFITS
Post-implementation, AbbVie began to realize benefits almost immediately. "The biggest change is that we now see all global purchases in one place via the Global Reporting and Account Management solution," Tillman says. "This lets us analyze every business expense, and even drill down to the employee level."
Shifting spending to company-issued cards rather than purchase orders and administrative check requests helped AbbVie remove low-value payments from its ERP system, while adding clarity to how much it owes each month. "Having this extra knowledge has helped our purchasing team add strategic value and improve our collaboration with finance," says Clark.
Going forward, AbbVie plans to:
- Offer prepaid cards in the U.S. to reimburse job applicants for travel and other expenses
- Issue meeting cards to centralize spending that supports specific conferences and events
"This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to overhaul our back office, and the implementation was stellar," says Tillman. "We are still finding ways to shift more spending to card."
Prescription for AbbVie's success
- Roll out over 20,000 purchasing, travel and meeting cards in 62 countries
- Centralize oversight of employee spending
- Simplify back-office processes and free up working capital