3 reasons why the Death Star failed

In Business travel, Spend management by Julian Quisquater

Have you ever taken a moment to pause and think about how a scrappy band of Rebels managed to blow up the Death Star? It seems improbable, but when you take a deeper look at the Empire’s lack of attention to detail and grossly negligent management team, the failure to protect their investment makes sense. In all fairness, if the Death Star was run with any semblance of order, the Rebel Alliance would never have had a chance.

Spending does not translate directly to success.

The Empire fell into the trap of the age old caveat that “bigger is better.” One of their Moff’s boldly declared at a boardroom-esque discussion, “This battle station is the greatest power in the universe,” to which Darth Vader correctly replied, “Don’t be so quick to worship this technological terror you’ve created.”

Throwing around a ton of money on various systems to manage your expenses might sound great in theory, but it doesn’t help unless those systems talk to each other. When all the systems sync together through a centralized platform, you gain full visibility into each step of the process, allowing you to track all aspects of employee spending. Plus, using a centralized platform prevents your employees from getting bogged down in tedious processes while losing productivity.

The optimum committee has no members.

One of the most intriguing questions that arises at the beginning of Star Wars is who exactly is calling the shots? At first, we think it’s Darth Vader, but then he gets chastised by Grand Moff Tarkin for choking one of the lesser Moffs during an argument, after which there is mention of a mysterious Emperor in the background who might be in charge… If you are confused right now that is precisely the point. When you are forced to make a decision but don’t know who is responsible for taking ownership, then the answer, more often than not, is nobody.

Decisions made by committee leave a gaping black hole when the question of accountability rolls around, and that is precisely where a clearly defined travel and expense policy can spare you the headache of an unbalanced budget. Unmanaged employee spend inevitably costs your company money. You can’t control what you can’t see. An all-in-one platform clearly outlines every step of a T&E process so that “judgment calls” don’t fall on individuals or get buried in committees. Everyone is held accountable through their part of the process.

A million to none is better than a million to one.

The Empire gave the Rebel Alliance no chance when learning of their plans to attack the Death Star. One of the Moffs even went so far as to say, “Any attack made by the Rebels against this station would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they have obtained.” Well, look how well that worked out for them. Upon destroying the Death Star, Han Solo tells Luke, “Great shot kid! That was one in a million!”

Think of the Rebel Alliance pilots as your employees. If there are points of weakness or vulnerability in your current spend policy, employees will find them, whether it be by accident or intent. In the world of finance, you don’t have the luxury of assuming policy weaknesses won’t be found or accidentally overlooked, so why leave it to chance?

“Impossible” is always better than “a million to one” when it comes to the chance of employee out-of-policy spending. No matter how overwhelming your current policy may appear, if it’s not easily found and fully understood it will always be vulnerable. With an all-in-one platform there is no room for error, and you’ll never be the CFO with egg on their face watching your budget explode like the Death Star.

Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Ask yourself the following questions and see if one or more of them apply to your company:

Is my current T&E solution spread out across various platforms?

Is my current T&E solution overseen by different silos that don’t always communicate with each other?

Is my current T&E policy lacking in transparency into how my employees are spending money?

Is my current T&E policy putting my company at risk of out-of-policy spend and budget overages?

You would think the Empire learned their lesson after the Death Star was blown up, but they didn’t. In Return of the Jedi, they decide to build a bigger and better Death Star, ripe with all the same flaws of the first, and it goes up in flames in a similar fashion. If they had actually devoted any time or effort to fixing the problem, the Rebel Alliance never would have stood a chance.

A savvy decision maker fixes a problem as soon as it becomes apparent. Don’t let your business become a Death Star. Learn how to manage your company’s employee spend by downloading our latest ebook here.

About the Author
Julian Quisquater

Julian Quisquater

Julian Quisquater is a Content Marketing Manager at Deem, a battle-scarred survivor of several start-ups, and a decade long veteran of technology content curation. He holds bachelors degrees in media studies and copy-editing from UC Santa Barbara and an MFA in creative writing from the California College of the Arts.