A Xero Partner success story: Bill Automation for construction clients

AVH Business Services is an Australian-based Bookkeeping and BAS practice, specialising in developing and maintaining systems that provide maximum efficiency and productivity. In this case study, we explore the recommended best practices of end-to-end bill automation and process optimisation for construction companies, as shared by Vianne Hills, Director of AVH Business Services.

A Time Before ApprovalMax

AVH Business Services used Xero as the online system of records and core accounting software. And for capturing supplier invoices for their construction clients, AVH Business Services used Hubdoc, which allowed electronic invoices to be pushed directly into Xero. This helped to avoid manual data entry and reduced coding overhead.

However, even with the invoice capture automated and the data kept securely in the cloud, there was still a severe productivity killer: manual paper-based approvals.

The biggest drawbacks associated with the paper-driven approvals were the time wasted chasing approvers on the client’s side, figuring out the status of the approval request to make sure the supplier invoice payment was not delayed, and – worst of all – the complete lack of approval traceability, which made audits practically impossible.

They needed an automated approval workflow solution. Enter ApprovalMax.

Completing Xero and HubDoc with ApprovalMax

ApprovalMax was selected by AVH Business Services as the recommended approval app – and as part of the trusted app stack for their clients – as it integrates exceptionally well with the Xero interface.

ApprovalMax provides multi-tiered and multi-role approvals for Xero documents, such as bills, purchase orders, sales invoices, etc., and fully eradicates manual and paper-based approvals. This is especially important for remotely distributed and multi-site clients.

Currently, AVH Business Services send supplier invoices to Hubdoc. The invoices are then automatically pushed to Xero as bills, with ApprovalMax pulling all bills in the ‘Awaiting Approval’ status from Xero. These are then routed through the predefined approval workflows to secure proper bill authorisation by the designated approvers at each authorisation level. Finally, automatic notifications are sent to approvers to notify them of requests pending their decision.

“No other software can offer this level of competency with ensuring the company data is secure and separate – as well as the added benefit of being able to set up rules for different approvers/secondary approvers”

Results: Better Productivity and Full Audit Readiness

Now clients of AVH Business Services use ApprovalMax to go through the following bill review and approval process:

  • Site Supervisor (or office manager for overheads) for the initial bill review and approval > Estimator > Director.
  • The three-level authorisation means the approval responsibility is shared across the stakeholders, as well as minimising the review and approval workload for executive staff.

As mentioned earlier, one of the key challenges of paper-based approvals was the lack of approval traceability and the inability to prepare for and pass audits. ApprovalMax has fully resolved the issue as it provides a full audit trail, capturing all approver names, times, and the actual approval decisions in a PDF file attached to each bill and submitted to Xero together with the approved bill.

“We now have full visibility of the comments being left, and a full audit trail of who approved something. And if they haven’t, we can look at the notes to find an explanation for why it hasn’t been approved yet, or why it has been rejected”

Another benefit achieved is the significant productivity enhancement due to the fact that all of the data is held in the cloud and accessible via phone or laptop. This makes approving requests on-the-go from an email on your phone far easier, and also ensures the approval process is streamlined and fully transparent.