From XU Magazine, 
Issue 18

Q&A Konstantin Bredyuk Director of Product ApprovalMax

Over the years, Konstantin has obtained a unique industry knowledge from both the finance and technology perspectives and has consulted multiple organisations with profiles ranging from SMBs to governments and industry tycoons. Along with his roots in various settings, this has allowed Konstantin has undertaken hundreds of product implementations for ApprovalMax clients worldwide…
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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XU: What makes ApprovalMax unique as a Xero-connected app?

KB: Well, we are in a unique ecosystem at this point in time. Xero is a ground-breaking Cloud platform and the first to provide small and medium businesses with essential accounting and finance capabilities that previously were not accessible for this segment.

A key necessity for SMB is high flexibility, as well as affordability. Which is where the traditional one-size-fits-all approach simply does not work for all! This is where ApprovalMax comes into its own as it not only supports flexibility from all possible perspectives but even brings it to the next level.

XU: What kind of flexibility do you mean?

KB: Small businesses are the type of organisation that change the fastest. Therefore, a software application must be able to keep up with the equally quickly evolving needs of such organisations. More importantly, it has to enable a smooth transition between individual growth stages and the consequently varying business scenarios. This is where accounting practices in particular, are the most likely to have clients who are operating at different maturity levels and thus require different functional capabilities for the seemingly same business need. So, the right app has to be comprehensive enough to support an organisation’s growth however fast it’s happening but mustn’t be oversized because this would only cause unnecessary expense.

XU: In the context of ApprovalMax, how does this look?

KB: If you take the core functionality of Bill Approval as an example. Our clients’ maturity paths suggest that most of them start with the basic Bill Approval feature. After some time, they usually expand to the concept of Purchase Orders and start utilising the creation and approval of Purchase Orders for expense tracking. Eventually, most clients complete their Bill Automation process by introducing further capabilities. Consequently, our Bill Automation app must and does provide the required flexibility implementation-wise as well as the ability to support any one of these maturity scenarios throughout – from the very basic Bill Approval to more sophisticated spend control scenarios including Bill to PO matching.

XU: That sounds like a software enabler for digital transformation!

KB: Exactly! Effectively this is and always has been about transformation, ease of change, and the ability to optimise and scale.

XU: You said there are different perspectives to flexibility – what are the others?

KB: Well, another aspect is about implementation flexibility. In the Xero ecosystem with Xero as the core accounting platform and a wide range of additional functionality provided by connected apps it is vital to maintain the flexibility regarding implementation choices. For example, as a Bill Automation app, ApprovalMax works equally well with any data capture solution – be that an OCR such as Receipt Bank or Datamolino, the Xero ‘Email to Bill’ function, Hubdoc… you name it. The choice is entirely up to our clients.

XU: That sounds great! Speaking of accountants, what is your view on advisory as an additional revenue-generating service type for accounting firms?

KB: Advisory is a complicated service that requires more investment and a different level of commitment to clients compared to basic bookkeeping and compliance services. However, it often results in higher client stickiness and upsell value.

An immediate difficulty with delivering advisory services will most likely be the staff skill set, but taking on advisory step by step is absolutely worth trying. A safe start could be, for example, advancing from basic bookkeeping to cash flow forecasting – while staying within the same app stack and interaction mode with the client.

XU: How can ApprovalMax help accountants with delivering advisory services?

KB: As a Bill Automation app, ApprovalMax serves as a basis for delivering process optimisation and app advisory services. We actually have a series of webinars dedicated to clutter-free accounting and process automation sharing the latest industry best practices we have obtained working with our partners. We strive to go beyond basic product demos and take a broader look at end-to-end implementation scenarios.

XU: ApprovalMax is mentioned in Xero’s recent Cash Flow app advisory playbook – how do you feel about this?

KB: We are very excited about that! ApprovalMax features as a trusted and recommended app in the Data Automation category. We hope
to continue working with Xero on advisory content around further key accounting matters.

XU: Thank you very much for your time! One final question for you: what do you make of the more approval automation apps that are emerging in the Xero ecosystem?

KB: We are actually very happy about that because it proves that we are in a strong and growing market. As for the competition, it is all about a clear vision and the ability to execute. With our roots in business process management software and a key focus on end-to-end process optimisation, we and our product are right on track.

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