From XU Magazine, 
Issue 28

50% higher approval efficiency and reduced labour costs:

how Tinka Consulting used ApprovalMax to help NOUS drive efficiency by eliminating manual work

Tinka Consulting is a Brisbane-based business with clients all-over Australia that offers bookkeeping, accounting, business reporting and advisory services. This is an interview with Trent Todd, Technical Director of Tinka Consulting.

How would you describe your services and your customers? 

We’re not a traditional accounting firm, and we don’t do tax. This allows us to focus on helping businesses reach their full potential. Our team has deep commercial experience and can help with reporting, advisory and process improvement projects to increase productivity. We specialise in working with SMEs across the Digital / Tech / Software / eComm / Energy and Medical industries, mostly 10+ FTE businesses but all the way up to 150+ FTE ones.

What are the common challenges such businesses face?

They really need clear and accurate financial reporting that delivers meaningful insights for making informed decisions in their quest to move forward. It’s also essential that they can plan their cash flow properly. But fast-growing businesses often struggle to keep up with the mounting administrative work and stay on top of potential risks. We often see a lack of proper financial processes like an audit trail, formal approvals and payment controls.

How does approval automation help with overcoming these challenges?

One of the biggest challenges is the inability to plan cash amounts precisely because incoming invoices are not in the system until fully approved, and that can take weeks. Most of these businesses use email approvals, which are simply unproductive and all too easily forgotten in a busy inbox. Usually there is a large number of approvers, meaning that without an appropriate approach it’s not just difficult to do reliable cash flow forecasting – the accounts payable process is also affected. To sum it up, a lot of time and effort can be used much more efficiently by introducing the right automation tools.

Automating approvals and processes can save a lot of time and, therefore, money. One of our customers with 30 staff actually reduced costs by 39,000 AUD per year. We measure the time spent, so, the larger a business is, the bigger the savings. Another great example is a business with over 140 staff that achieved a total reduction of over 150,000 AUD per year. Implementing the solution here meant 2.5 days a week of the accounts administrator’s time could be reallocated to other activities.

Case study: eliminating manual work to cut labour costs in a branding agency 

NOUS is a branding agency with creative intelligence for great results. They help develop brands but also deliver those brands through website design and development, a creative concept and the design of brand collaterals, digital campaigns, video productions, packaging and marketing automation. 

The problem: trying to run complicated approval workflows manually

NOUS has over 20 staff in Brisbane and services businesses from all kinds of industries. NOUS takes a lot of care when they bill their clients to issue true and correct invoices, so they’re run through a multi-layered approval process before they’re sent out. It can have up to four steps, including the approvals by managers from various departments, account managers and directors. 

The company used to have a manual file system for approvals: documents were put into someone’s folder to get their approval and then transferred to the next person, and another one, and another one... With so many approval steps this was becoming a tedious task for the administrative team. One of them had to open each folder and all the PDFs it contained – at times up to 80 files – to check if all had been signed and approved before moving them on into the next folder. With this kind of approach, it was a real challenge for both approvers and the admin person to keep track of this process. To make it worse there were also manual approvals on printed documents. 

Introducing ApprovalMax to save $40k and a total of .2 of an FTE in the operational team

Since sound approval rules had already been established and thought out in great detail, recreating them in ApprovalMax was pretty easy. The automated process with notifications simplified things for the approvers drastically and the laborious folder management became obsolete, freeing up that person’s time for higher value operational tasks. 

At the same time, spurred on by the ease of approvals in ApprovalMax, Tinka Consulting offered to tighten spend control and implement bill approval. 

The move to paperless accounting

Complemented by a data entry tool, ApprovalMax enabled NOUS to completely eliminate paper from their processes.

Before, some of their approvals were in PDFs, others on paper – for those who preferred to physically sign documents.  By creating a paperless approval process it became easy to make the case for a payment process using the batch payment functionality in Xero.

Improving the customer-to-practice communication

For Tinka Consulting, implementing ApprovalMax has improved the communication and collaboration with their clients enormously: there are fewer errors and more trust because the client is able to properly review and stay in control while having to do less work. 

Results:

  • Approval efficiency has risen by 50% (from entry to posting) 
  • .25 of an FTE for administrative assistance was repurposed through efficiency gains
  • .2 of an FTE in the operational team was saved in total 
  • Total ROI: $40k (conservative value)
  • Increasing the number of approvers has improved transparency across the business

Why leave it there?

To find out more about ApprovalMax

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