How approval automation saves this investment firm 40 hours a week

case study

How approval automation saves this investment firm 40 hours a week

Approvals in less than
24 hours

80% Reduction
in approval time

40+ hours
saved per week

$62,400 NZD
estimated yearly savings

7,900% estimated yearly
ROI from ApprovalMax

accuracy & visibility

The Icehouse is a leading player in New Zealand’s business and start-up investment sector, with over two decades of experience coaching SME businesses and investing in tech start-ups. They are renowned for their innovative approach and have worked with successful companies such as Sharesies, Hnry, and Dawn Aerospace.

However, as their business grew, so did the number of invoices they had to process. Despite adopting Xero as their cloud-accounting platform, their invoice approval process was still bogged down by a time-consuming and inefficient paper-based system. That’s when they turned to ApprovalMax to streamline their finance operations. Sebastian McLarin, Head of Finance and Financial Controller at The Icehouse, said of their journey with approval automation:

“We were one of the early New Zealand-based customers for ApprovalMax back in 2016. We were new to Xero and searching for a solution to help us automate our invoice approvals. After researching ApprovalMax, I found it did exactly what I was looking for. If you’re looking for approval software, ApprovalMax is a great solution.”

Overcoming the challenges of a paper-based approval system

With three people across their finance team, 10 approvers, and around 400 invoices each month, The Icehouse needed a transparent approval matrix that did the heavy-lifting and thinking for them. Their team relied entirely on a paper-based approval system that required a lot of time and energy from key decision-makers. The process was so time-consuming that it needed a full-time employee to manage the paper trail, and on top of that, it would take 3-4 days to get an invoice approved and paid.

Sebastian reflects on the move to approval automation: “Before we started using ApprovalMax, our approval process involved printing receipts and handing them over to the responsible managers for their signature, which required a full-time person to manage. With ApprovalMax, we reduced invoice processing time by up to 80%.”

​​With ApprovalMax, The Icehouse were able to set up a multi-tiered approval process with 3 levels to simplify the process.

  • Level 1 – is dedicated to smaller invoices, such as those for coaching services. 
  • Level 2 – all invoices are routed to the respective manager. 
  • Level 3 – is for invoices over $1000, which go to the COO for review and final approval.

The result? An impressive 40+ hours saved each week, resulting in estimated yearly savings of $62,400 NZD (7,900% ROI!). In addition, not only did they create a trackable and transparent process for their accounts payables and receivables, but they also moved away from an outdated paper-based system that was holding them back. Now, their approval process is streamlined and invoices are approved anywhere, at any time, some within just 24 hours. And with features like bill-to-PO matching, budget checking, and multi-tiered, multi-rule approval matrices, The Icehouse are able to implement an approval process that protects them from fraud.

Building an integrated tech stack for maximum efficiency

To fully realise the benefits of ApprovalMax, The Icehouse integrated it with their existing tech stack that included Xero and Dext Prepare. Xero served as their hub for record-keeping and app integrations, while Dext Prepare automated the data-capture process. ApprovalMax then automated their approval matrix and facilitated a flexible approval process. Sebastian explains the process: 

“We’ve automated most of our AP and AR processes. Whenever a document comes into our Accounts Payable Inbox, it’s automatically forwarded to Dext, which codes the documents. Then, it’s sent through the approval matrix to the decision-maker who checks the details. Then it’s flicked straight to Xero and ApprovalMax.”

How ApprovalMax streamlined The Icehouse’s finance operations

ApprovalMax has been a game-changer for The Icehouse’s finance team. It has streamlined their approval process and allowed them to save time and resources, freeing up their team to focus on what they do best – supporting New Zealand businesses and investing in tech start-ups.

With ApprovalMax, The Icehouse has a transparent and automated approval process in place. Invoices are approved quickly and efficiently, with approvals taking just hours, instead of days. ApprovalMax has not only improved their AP process, but has also increased efficiency and reduced manual tasks for their decision-makers, finance team, and operations staff.

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