Partner Talks: Grant Thornton on Approval Automation

How much time or revenue do you lose chasing invoice approvals or ensuring compliance processes are followed? 

We sat down with Jadene Windley, Assistant Manager at Grant Thornton, to chat about how Grant Thornton automated their approval processes with ApprovalMax and saw company-wide improvements as a result. 

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Learn how developing automated approval processes helped Grant Thornton NZ save time and money and improve client relationships.

Partner talk with Jadene Windley from Grant Thornton NZ

Headshot of Sahil Malhotra from ApprovalMax smiling and looking at the camera. He is the interviewer in this chat with Jadene Windley.

Sahil Malhotra: Thank you for joining us today. Really keen to hear your thoughts on ApprovalMax. So my first question is how has ApprovalMax helped you?

Jadene Windley: ApprovalMax has really helped our team at Grant Thornton to streamline the processes for our clients. Mainly we assist them with the critical payments which really adds another string to the bow for us to be able to help our clients get back to the actual business, rather than being caught up in approving invoices or worrying that the delegations are or are not being followed.

Sahil Malhotra: Great, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think that’s where the big value is, isn’t it? Can you tell me a little bit about some of the specific benefits your team and your clients have achieved with ApprovalMax? 

Jadene Windley: Definitely. As I said before, it gives us confidence that delegations are being followed and that they’re not being circumvented either by accident or on purpose. That is massive. It provides an extra level of comfort and understanding that everything works the way that it should for all of the stakeholders, especially for our Not for Profit clients. The other main benefit, I would say, is the time savings that we get out of using ApprovalMax. It saves time for us internally as a team, for the approvers and also for audit purposes because there’s always a trial attached showing who approved something and when they approved it. 

Sahil Malhotra: Perfect, thank you. Can you talk to me about the two main specific areas or problems where ApprovalMax has added value either to your team or to your clients? 

Headshot of Jadene Windley, Assistant Manager at Grant Thornton NZ who answers these interview questions about Grant Thornton's adoption of approval automation with ApprovalMax

ApprovalMax has really helped our team at Grant Thornton to streamline the processes for our clients.

Jadene Windley

Jadene Windley: An extra value that we see from using ApprovalMax is around controls. Not only controls of delegations – ApprovalMax has added new features recently so that it takes this to the next level with contact controls and budget checking. It means that organisations are able to really control which suppliers are being entered into the accounting system and budget holders know how the decision or the approval that they’re about to make will impact on their budget. I’m getting a lot of positive feedback from clients saying that they’re keen on these features and that they see them being really key in their business or organisation. We also get a lot of nice feedback from clients that they love the ease of approvals. A lot of approvers are busy; they are usually chief executives and managers – they’ve got a lot on. Having both the web and the app makes it really easy for them to get things approved faster so that they go through the system quicker. No more need to sit on someone’s desk for three weeks like a piece of paper often does. 

Sahil Malhotra: And I think it’s the impact of the real-time information that everyone has got the same access to. So it’s really good feedback. Thank you. As a practitioner, what would you say is the driving factor for you to join the ApprovalMax Partner Program and what value have you received from it? 

Jadene Windley: Major benefits for me for joining the Partner Program are additional support and the resources that we can have access to and the discounts that we can pass on to my clients. It’s just really key that we can say to clients “Hey, we’ve got this really great tool and we can give you a discount”. 

Sahil Malhotra: All right, thanks very much for sharing your thoughts. Can you tell me some specific time or money savings that you might have achieved from implementing ApprovalMax or working with a client on ApprovalMax compared with the previous systems the clients have used? 

Jadene Windley: I think of one example when we previously had to approve all of the invoices by email. That means that the accountant who was preparing a payment batch would need to print the emails to show that everything had been approved. The approvers, in their turn, had to spend their time sending emails. It took only one or two seconds per email, but that adds up over a payment batch of 40 or 50 invoices over 3 people per month. We’re talking at least, I would say, two hours of time for each payment batch for each of the people involved. Taking into consideration that we charge out the accountants at a rate that reflects their experience in that kind of thing, that’s a cost to our clients. If we’re talking two or three hours a month, it’s a few hundred dollars that we’re cutting off at that lower level.

For the approvers, saving that time means that they can focus on other areas of the organisation. Sometimes we are involved with clients and partners as a part of the final approval process. So the less time we have on the Partners looking at emails and invoices to make sure they’ve been approved, the more cost savings it provides because Partner rates are expensive. While I can’t give you the specific dollar factors, we’re talking at least two or three hours over three or more people and a payment batch which, depending on your organisation, may be every two weeks or once a month. And of course, we’re talking varying numbers of invoices, but I’d say that number’s probably a baseline for quite a few people. And it does have a cost. Even if it’s 10 invoices versus 30, you’re still going to have some core time and costs involved. 

Sahil Malhotra: That’s very helpful. And I think that’s why even if it’s two to three hours, we could probably average out some of the rates because each approver will be on a different rate, starting from Junior to the Partners. And every time someone gets involved in touching the paper, that’s where the time gets invested in making sure invoices are approved either quickly or they can take as much time using paper, which doesn’t help them with efficiency. 

Jadene Windley: Yeah. And even if you average it out and you say a thousand dollars a month, which isn’t too bad over all of those different levels, any organisation that can carve out that kind of cost could be massive. So definitely worth it in terms of prioritising other activities and from a cost perspective. 

Sahil Malhotra: Yes, exactly. Well, thank you very much. This is really helpful. 

Wrap up

With the help of approval automation, Grant Thornton was able to streamline their accountancy systems and make the move to paperless approvals that save time and money for both their team and their clients. From budget checking and compliance assurance to faster invoice approvals, the Grant Thornton team are reaping the benefits of automation, helping them focus on getting their work done. 

And through the ApprovalMax Partner Program, Grant Thornton has access to a wealth of knowledge, resources and support to help them make the most of their AP and AR systems. 

Have you heard about the ApprovalMax Partner Program? 

Designed for bookkeeping, accountancy and advisory practices, the ApprovalMax Partner Program provides members with 1:1 consultation, premium support, and access to partner discounts and the Partner Learning & Certification Programme. Learn more here.

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