Streamlining the invoice approval process for a primary school: a case study with Riccarton Primary School

Read how ApprovalMax became the final piece in the puzzle of organising a streamlined paperless accounts payable process for a New Zealand primary school 

Riccarton Primary School is located in Christchurch, New Zealand, and has about 300 pupils. The school’s staff are committed to providing the best possible resources they can to ensure a quality learning environment, so organising a well-run finance function is not a factor to be underestimated. 

In New Zealand, the only difference between the finance function in a high school and that in a primary school is the size because high schools have more students (see our story with Wellington Girls College with 1,520 students) than primary schools have pupils. As the overall spending amount and number of invoices to be processed is lower, there is a little more leeway for staff in primaries, which makes the implementation of technology and digital processes less urgent.

However, Riccarton Primary School started the digital transformation of their finance function a while ago when they implemented Xero, Hubdoc for invoice digitisation and Monty for reporting purposes. 

They also had a digital approval process based on PDF files getting sent around by email. The school’s business manager used to receive invoices via Hubdoc, then she had to attach both an electronic approval form and a list of budgets before passing all on to the responsible approvers. When the authorised invoices were returned, they had to be forwarded to Hubdoc and posted to Xero. Normally, their process consists of two steps: collecting the approval of the budget holder first, and then the principal’s – but larger amounts require three approvers. 

ApprovalMax simplifies this approval process enormously, even to the point that it’s easy to forget it exists at all. No more manual routing, or sending invoices to budget holders and back to Xero. After an initial review to make sure each invoice goes to the right budget holder, all works automatically.

Everyone loves the streamlined process and all find it a lot easier than the old system. Removing barriers and as much administrative work as possible is really important because it gives teachers more time to put into their actual job.

Plus, this efficient process also saves a lot of time for the school business manager, who can now focus on applying for funding and grants – obviously a lot more rewarding than processing invoices.

And there’s another advantage of using ApprovalMax: annual audits are definitely easier now because auditors just log into the school’s Xero file to find a detailed audit report attached to every invoice, proving that all approval rules and the specified delegation of authority were duly followed. They don’t need to spend time at the school physically looking at paper invoices, and audits are much faster.

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