From XU Magazine, 
Issue 23

Moving a client’s approval process from their inbox to their phones

Find out how an Australian-based accounting and bookkeeping firm has successfully automated approvals for a sports organisation client to replace inefficient email-based approvals with workflow-driven approvals using ApprovalMax mobile app…
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Sports Accounting Australia is an accounting and bookkeeping firm that works predominantly with sports organisations. We serve any kind of sports organisation, from national and state bodies to grassroot clubs, and provide them with better accounting processes and clearer financial reporting. As we are based in Scoresby, Victoria, we have mainly Victorian clients but also take on others from all over Australia as our processes are cloud-based.

Sports verticals operate in a way that makes approval automation essential

Most of our clients are not-for-profits, so they usually have a lot of external people with a say in their business – shareholders, board members, and committee members. A lot of the time, these members need to be involved in financial decisions such as allocating prize money or signing off a certain amount to be spent on an event.

Although there is an approval mechanism for bills in Xero, our clients don’t need all external stakeholders having access to their accounting system. Understandable, but this made collecting approvals quite laborious, as some of our stakeholders are not very tech-savvy.

Manual procedures are slowing down bill payments

Our client used to have a very manual procedure in place. Incoming bills were received by the accounts team, who forwarded them to the respective approvers and then had to wait for them to print out and sign those invoices before sending them back to accounts. Only then were approved bills entered into Xero as ready for payment. Getting bills approved took a long time as the approvers have lots of emails coming in and, of course, they don’t sit at their desk all day long.

It really was a clunky process, and bills could easily get displaced. The accounts team often didn’t know what was holding up particular invoices, or where they had ended up.

Transforming the bill approval process with ApprovalMax

How bill authorisation works for a sports organisation

Sports organisations have the same kind of expenses that any other business would have, such as rent and electricity, but also specific ones like equipment and venue hire, or prize money that has been won.

Our not for profit clients have an approval hierarchy to determine who can approve which bills.  As not-for-profits, they are audited at the end of each financial year and because we’re external bookkeepers, the auditors want to see that it’s not us, the accountants who’s approving the bills, but someone within the organisation who is authorised to do so.

Let’s take a bill of one hundred thousand dollars as an example: we would have to email the bill to all the appropriate approvers such as the CEO followed by the appropriate committee members and then wait for each of them to email back their approval – each bill could have two to three layers of approval.

Fast-tracking the process, from invoice data capture to bill approval

Now, invoices are given to the accounts team who enters them into Receipt Bank. After Receipt Bank has extracted the relevant data, the team reviews this information and publishes it to Xero as bills with the status “Waiting for approval”. These bills are then pulled by ApprovalMax and passed through the predefined approval workflow, which routes all bills directly to the responsible approvers for reviewing, commenting, approving or reassignment. Once fully approved, bills get pushed back to Xero ready for payment, which the accounts team takes care of accordingly.

Authorising now happens in a much more time-efficient way. The route of each bill throughout the workflow is tracked – no missing invoices any more. And to top it all, it’s completely paperless

Moving approvals from paper to mobiles

The new process is a lot more convenient for everybody as they don’t have to deal with papers any more. In fact, 90 % of approvers prefer the mobile app – they love this option because they can get things done on the go. The remaining 10 % use the “Approval from email” capability and approve from the notification email they get about approval requests pending their decision. No one really uses the web version for approval.

We are very content with the way our clients deal with approvals, now that we implemented ApprovalMax. It saves a lot of time and ensures proper processes and convenience for all parties involved.

Why leave it there?

To find out more about ApprovalMax

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