ApprovalMax answers your questions: a product webinar recap

In our October webinars we walked new and existing customers through the main product capabilities, including the newly released direct integration with Receipt Bank. As we received quite a lot of questions afterwards, we’d like to share them with you along with the answers in our blog.

Receipt Bank to ApprovalMax integration

Q: Is the Receipt Bank integration out of beta stage now and when will we get it as part of the subscription?

A: The Receipt Bank to ApprovalMax integration for Xero was a private beta version for a while, currently it’s in the public beta stage. This means that now all users can go to Receipt Bank and activate the integration themselves.

Q: What if we use Xero but not Receipt Bank, will ApprovalMax work in this scenario?

A: Absolutely. You can use any data entry tool and have ApprovalMax pick up the bills that these tools push to Xero. You can also create bills manually in Xero, or just copy existing purchase orders into bills. Alternatively, just create bills directly in ApprovalMax. Whichever way, it’s not mandatory to have Receipt Bank in order to use ApprovalMax.

Q: What is the sync frequency between Receipt Bank and Approval Max?         

A: With the direct integration it’s almost in an instant: you click on the “Publish” button in Receipt Bank and the documents show in ApprovalMax within seconds, just like they would when syncing with Xero. Receipt Bank does require some time to process documents and extract the relevant data (the average being 30 minutes, you’ll find more information here) but as soon as the document has been processed and published, it will appear in ApprovalMax.

Q: Is Receipt Bank capable of pushing bills with multiple line items to ApprovalMax?    

A: This depends on your country and Receipt Bank plan, you’ll find more information on this here. ApprovalMax actually does support bills with many line items. Line items can be related to multiple departments and we have cases where several approvers have to authorise the same bill because it affects various departments. 

Q: I am interested in the QuickBooks Online/Receipt Bank/ApprovalMax connection, particularly with regard to approving credit card purchases. Is there an option to publish such bills to QuickBooks Online as “Spend money” in the bank feeds rather than bills for payment?

A: We are currently working on this type of workflow, so please stay tuned to find out about its availability. 

Q: Does an Employee Expenses report work the same way as invoices with Receipt Bank? 

A: ApprovalMax accepts bill-type documents from both Receipt Bank and Xero. If you publish expense reports as bills, like most of our clients do, it will work the exact same way as for supplier invoices.

Q: Can we match bills and purchase orders in ApprovalMax with the new Receipt Bank workflow?

A: Yes, that’s possible. Whatever the source of a bill is, it can be matched to a purchase order in ApprovalMax. The general rule is that the respective purchase order must be fully approved while the bill to be matched may not be fully approved yet. When you match bills and purchase orders in ApprovalMax, ApprovalMax calculates the purchase order balance. For example, there might be two or three bills referring to a particular purchase order. So, let’s assume you have a purchase order for 1,000 pounds and three related bills of 100 pounds each. Taking those 300 pounds off the total of 1,000 pounds means you have 700 pounds left. This remaining purchase order balance you’ll see in the reporting area in ApprovalMax; it’s important for the accrual amount that highlights the expenses about to hit you. 

Matching in ApprovalMax

Q: You create a purchase order in ApprovalMax, which gets pushed to Xero. You send it to your supplier and receive an invoice. You capture the invoice in Hubdoc, push it to Xero as “Awaiting Approval” and then authorise it via ApprovalMax. The Xero invoice gets approved. At what stage does the Xero purchase order get marked as invoiced, or is this a manual process? And, is it different if you use Receipt Bank?

A: The flow described is correct. You match bills to purchase orders, and then there’s a separate step for marking a purchase order as fully billed. Currently, this is done manually, i.e. you need to go to the purchase order and click the “Mark this purchase order as fully billed” button. There’s a direct link to Xero data, so if you click this button in ApprovalMax, it will be synced to Xero; if you do this in Xero, it will be synced to ApprovalMax. At the moment this is not automated, but we’re working on improving the matching functionality. With Receipt Bank it works exactly the same way.

Q: How do you track partially billed purchase orders in ApprovalMax?

A: If an incoming bill doesn’t cover the purchase order completely, you can still match the two and ApprovalMax will calculate the purchase order balance. Also, it is possible to mark a purchase order as fully billed even in such a situation.

Q: Let’s say you have an approved purchase order in ApprovalMax for £100. The bill arrives but the amount is £101. Will it still match up, or will the bill be rejected because it exceeds the purchase order value?

A: This is for the approver to decide. The approver will see that the bill amount exceeds the purchase order amount and reject or approve regardless, depending on the situation. However, ApprovalMax allows to establish stricter rules for such cases by activating the setting “Do not allow the approval of a bill if it exceeds the purchase order amount”. You can also select the option “Do not allow the approval of a bill if it has not been matched to a purchase order”.

Q: When a purchase order has been matched to a bill, will it get attached to the bill and both go to Xero? Or, if this is not the case, are all purchase orders kept and retained in ApprovalMax? Can you explain what happens with a bill that’s been matched to more than one purchase order, or when a bill relates just partly to a larger purchase order? Does this get marked on the purchase order? What exactly goes to Xero?

A: We support both workflows and sync all documents with Xero. Both purchase orders and bills are stored in Xero. Bills can be matched to purchase orders. You can also perform partial matching, when several bills are matched to the same purchase order. There are a number of additional settings for matching rules, e.g. you can specify that bills cannot be approved unless they’ve been matched to a purchase order.

More information on matching is available in this blog article.

All things ApprovalMax

Q: Does ApprovalMax integrate with Hubdoc as it does with Receipt Bank?      

A: Although we do not integrate directly with Hubdoc as we do with Receipt Bank, it’s possible to use Hubdoc with ApprovalMax in the classic solution where ApprovalMax pulls bills from Xero. You must ensure though that Hubdoc publishes documents to Xero in the “Awaiting Approval” status as this triggers ApprovalMax to pick them up for authorisation. More information on using Hubdoc with ApprovalMax is available here.

Q: If ApprovalMax is used for approving Xero bills, can bills still be manually approved directly in Xero, i.e. can someone get around the approval system by simply doing the approval in Xero?  

A: Unfortunately, we’re not able to prevent this from happening because we cannot interfere with how Xero works. If a user has access to Xero, they can approve bills in Xero. However, ApprovalMax helps to avoid such cases and detects direct approvals in Xero. Approvers in ApprovalMax don’t need access to Xero, so you can keep people away from financial information in Xero that’s not for them to know. ApprovalMax can also detect situations where a bill got approved directly in Xero and notify the administrator. You’ll find more about our fraud prevention features here.

Q: If an invoice doesn’t get approved in the month of issue but has been registered in ApprovalMax, to which period will it apply in Xero – as per the invoice date, the date it was registered, or the date of approval?

A: In Xero, there is a “lock date” feature. ApprovalMax has two ways of handling this situation. One is the same as Xero’s, meaning such bills are rejected because their date is earlier than the lock date. The other one, which most of our clients use, is to automatically move such bills to the next period; we call this the “Lock date +1 day” feature. You’ll find more about this here.

Q: Is it possible to use ApprovalMax for claim purposes in a church organisation?         

A: Sure. We actually have quite a lot of clients in the NFP sector, especially churches. In this scenario, volunteers can claim expenses by creating bills in ApprovalMax. Find out more about bill creation in ApprovalMax here.

Q: How do I select specific invoices for payment instead of approving payment for all invoices when they’re published?           

A: There are two parts in this process, the actual bill approval and the payment approval. During bill approval approvers confirm that the bill itself is correct, however, releasing any money is a separate procedure. When payments are to be released, someone looks at the list of bills that have already been fully approved and selects those they want to pay at that point. We do not consider bill approval to also be the approval for paying out money. Some of our clients use stand-alone approval workflows for payment release. Best practice here is to separate these two things and select the bills to be paid in Xero.

Q: Can payment dates be adjusted by the approver?

A: As we separate bill approval from payment approval, we do not provide the approver with the option to change dates. In Xero, however, where the approved bills are displayed, payment dates can be adjusted. 

Q: Can you pull draft bills from Xero, complete their approval and then post them back to Xero as ready for payment without the draft status?            

A: Things are a little different. We don’t pick up bills in draft status from Xero because drafts are not meant to enter the approval process; we only pull bills waiting for approval. By doing so, we don’t create another bill, we just move those bills from the “Awaiting Approval” status to “Awaiting Payment”. There are no duplicates. 

Q: What discount can I offer my clients as an accountancy practice?      

A: Sign up to our Partner Programme here or submit a Partner enquiry via this page to see the pricing.