Our app marketplace is brimming with over 700 apps to help small businesses and their advisors reach their goals and improve operations. Each month we celebrate an app partner who really stands out for helping small businesses thrive, by taking a look at an advisor or small business success story.
ApprovalMax is a cloud workflow system providing multi-step and multi-role approvals for businesses. We talked to the team at ExcluServ, a certified Xero accounting and developer partner, about how ApprovalMax has dramatically improved workflows, saved time and made life simpler for their clients and their practice.
With offices in both UK and South Africa, ExcluServ provides consultancy, software and accounting support to SMBs and not-for-profits. Their aim: to enable clients to get more from their financial data and improve their finance functions. They specialise in working with clients who want to streamline processes and track their business in a more advanced way than simply looking at income and expenditure.
Backlogs, inaccurate coding and chasing payments
“Before working with ApprovalMax, our clients’ invoices would arrive via email, often with inconsistent or inaccurate coding. Or sometimes no coding at all,” said Richard Britten-Kelly, ExcluServ’s Director of Accounting. “Time was wasted correcting or tracking down the right codes. Compliance checks were also challenging, with audit trails prone to getting lost or left sitting in inboxes.”
With everything done via email, there was no easy way to capture who approved each transaction. Paper bills had the habit of arriving on a client’s desk and staying there, rather than making it to the finance team, meaning extra time was wasted chasing payments. This was especially problematic for organisations with multiple entities or sites, with centralised finance departments.
Changing the game with the cloud
“We started using Xero in 2012 and it quickly became our preferred accounting software. As system consultants, we’re always looking out for ways to improve efficiency. After trialling an integration with Xero and ApprovalMax with a few clients, we were overwhelmed by the results and we are now rolling it out to everyone,” Richard said.
Since, connecting Xero and ApprovalMax has completely simplified and streamlined the way Excluserv works with clients.
“One of our clients operates several schools in South Africa, with centralised decision making and local finance staff. Since implementing ApprovalMax, bills are automatically produced in Xero with the right codes, before ExcluServ even gets involved in the process,” Richard said.
Now purchase order workflows are set up based on tracking categories. Users can raise purchase orders to certain amounts within those codes, which are then routed through the right workflow, depending on the department.
“For example if a teacher orders textbooks, the purchase order will go to the headmaster for approval, and then if it’s above a certain amount, on to the CFO. Once approved, the purchase order is converted into a Xero bill and the invoice is uploaded against it. It then drops into a second workflow, geared around confirming the good’s delivery,” Richard said.
Time saved and more value added
The improvement in workflows and efficiency around financial coding means ExcluServ has reduced the hours they spend working with this client by almost 40 hours per month – nearly the equivalent of an entire working week.
“Now our services are not only more efficient for this client, but more affordable too. With so much of our time freed up, we can spend it on higher-value consultancy to help this client, as well as take on additional work,” said Paul Winnan, ExcluServ’s Director of Consulting. “And because our staff are no longer getting stuck in processing and admin, like chasing payments and correcting codes, they can take on more interesting and challenging work. This also means greater learning and development opportunities.”
Since using ApprovalMax, ExcluServ and its clients have clear visibility into exactly where a document is in a workflow, which is especially useful if it’s being held up. And clients can approve bills on the go with the mobile app, saving even more time.
Making life easier for everyone
“We have new clients coming to us who are frustrated from wasting time with inefficient processes. Now we can offer them an affordable solution that can totally revolutionise their processes and make the way they run their business so much simpler. We can propose and build a robust end-to-end accounting process, with all the controls we need. We can do this with confidence that it can be built and implemented with low risk to us and to the client,” Paul commented.
As well as using ApprovalMax with clients, the ExcluServ team also uses it within their own practice.
“I use ApprovalMax at least once a week to review and approve documents. It’s incredibly convenient because I can use time waiting in a queue to clear off some of my admin on the mobile app. It means I can focus on income generating work when I am back at my desk.
“We are looking to expand in the UK and South Africa. Xero and ApprovalMax are part of the backbone to making that happen. The ApprovalMax team is always really responsive, happy to jump on a call and have been a real pleasure to work with,” Richard concluded.