Spend control via approval automation for a large residential property group

mgr is a general practice operating in London, which provides services across many sectors; including Media and Entertainment, Property, Retail and Wholesale, Health and Care, Lifestyle and Hospitality, Private Clients. Their typical clients are small to mid-size businesses looking for anything from annual compliance work to a full bookkeeping and concierge service.

Time to say goodbye to paper

When mgr took on bookkeeping work for a new client – a group that deals with residential properties – they were faced with the usual problems of a paper-based document flow. For example, the internal accountant of that client had to wait for a partner or director to walk past her office and ask them to sign invoices before she could make any payments. And of course, although the purchase ledger and bookkeeping function were eventually outsourced to mrg, the business managers and directors remained based in their offices. There also were no written records about the then procedure, meaning people had to remember who would approve what – and that didn’t work out all the time. The fact that carrying paper documents about and chasing people for approvals had to stop couldn’t be ignored any longer. There just had to be a change and moving things online was the obvious choice. 

Leading the way to easy and efficient workflows

Luckily, mgr is no stranger to setting up paperless cloud-based workflows to boost efficiency. They also introduced their client to ApprovalMax, which they had explored in depth during an internal trial for their own purchase invoice workflow before installing it permanently. They knew that adding ApprovalMax to their client’s workflow would be beneficial for both sides. Currently, mgr has implemented cloud-based solutions for two of their client groups, both dealing with properties, which made their approval processes much more efficient. Now, they are looking into rolling out ApprovalMax across a much broader range of client groups.

Setting up multi-layered approvals…

The property group client has quite a complex approval workflow with several managers. Some of them can approve payments going to certain suppliers, others are limited regarding the amounts, and people’s absence is covered by various delegates. Setting up the new process involved a lot of preparation work: sitting down with the client and identifying everyone that’s involved, before drafting a workflow in Visio and then agreeing on it with everyone. This workflow was subsequently rolled out in ApprovalMax, and the flexibility of this tool enabled mgr to implement the client’s exact requirements. 

…and providing hassle-free outsourcing services

mgr set up a communal email inbox to which the client’s suppliers now send their purchase invoices. An mgr employee then enters them into Xero, and submits them for approval. At that point, ApprovalMax picks them up and starts a predefined approval workflow. The responsible person on the client side automatically gets an email notification with all the relevant information and can approve or reject in both their mobile or desktop app. It all happens very quickly, sometimes even immediately.

Resolving the challenges of working with a large client: clear processes and shared accountability

In the past, there was a lack of clarity regarding who should be approving what, and no record of who actually did approve what. It was mostly done in an informal manner and based on verbal agreements – which some remembered, others didn’t, and some remembered differently. This caused major delays in terms of reporting. Before ApprovalMax, management accounting only happened at the end of the following month, or even later.

Now, management accounts are set up within 5 to 10 working days after month-end, when all purchase invoices have been approved and entered into the system. ApprovalMax makes it really easy for mgr to perform timely reporting and stay on top of the purchase ledger.

Another major advantage are the detailed audit trails in ApprovalMax, which show who has approved what, and when. A respective report on this is published to Xero. mgr wouldn’t even call this shared accountability because as far as they’re concerned, if the client has approved something in ApprovalMax, they can go ahead and pay without double-checking first.