Enabling easy spend control for the film and TV industry in South Africa

How Yo Figures uses ApprovalMax to handle the accounting for reality shows and TV series, and approve lots of expenses in less than no time

Yo Figures is a South African bookkeeping firm that serves exclusively the film and TV industry. Its services cover all a business in this industry might need, from registering a company to handling its taxes and payroll to reporting and audits. 

The challenges of production projects

Yo Figures has several clients who produce TV commercials, these are the standing customers. On top of that, there are a lot of companies established solely for the production of a particular reality show or film. This means, Yo Figures needs to register a new company, run its accounting and bookkeeping, and then deregister it. Such projects usually last for up to five months, during which plenty of stuff gets purchased. A production can have up to 400 people working on set, and the general ledger is linked to the budget, where every supplier, every crew member and all types of spending have a separate code and detailed description. 

Of course, clients need costs and the subsequent payments to be processed as fast and correct as possible. But at the same time all spending data has to be captured in a very specific format, so that it’s later useful for reporting and speedy audits. As a project budget can include thousands of various items, a brief but clear description for each one is vital – information that the requesters on set enter manually.

How things were done before

Yo Figures started four years ago and wanted to be a cloud-based accounting firm from the very beginning, so they implemented ApprovalMax for spend control right away. However, usually this industry still has physical purchase order books with three copies for everything that need to be filled in: one for the supplier, one for the accounts, and a third one for the production team. Such scenario means that, if a question comes up, you have to go through 20 books to find out whether things were properly approved – a total waste of time.

ApprovalMax enables spend control and shared responsibility with the client

The client’s employees on set use ApprovalMax as a tool for entering purchase orders and relevant information because they know what they’re spending the money on and can provide this data with the required level of detail. Typically this is done by the production managers or line producers on set, who are the ones that get together the crew, collect time sheets and invoices, confirm equipment rentals and book locations, and therefore know exactly what has to be costed for which category. And every expense is linked to a code and line item in the approved budget with the detailed description, so having the budget linked in ApprovalMax provides real-time data on possible overspending on any specific line item. 

Requests then go to the producer, who is ultimately responsible for all spending, and after his approval they’re passed on to the accounting team. Some projects have more complex approval workflows but normally there are three levels at the most. 

Incoming bills are collected by Yo Figures and sent to the client for approval. Once the approval process has been completed, the invoices can get paid.

Having shared responsibility with the client regarding payments is one of the biggest advantages for Yo Figures. As any TV or film project incurs a lot of invoices, there are plenty of queries related to due payments. ApprovalMax eliminates such questions by generating an audit trail to show that those bills have indeed been approved by the client. It also provides a way to standardise the data entry process, and enables clients to request and approve purchases. 

Additionally, ApprovalMax facilitates truly paperless workflows for Yo Figures. Having run the practice for four years now, they only have six files in their office because everything is stored in the cloud.