How to effectively manage spending across multi-entity businesses

Learn how leading accountancy practice, Taylorcocks, embraces the cloud to help its clients take back control of their expenditures.

An Accountancy Age ‘Top 100’ firm of chartered accountants and advisers, Taylorcocks specialises in the delivery of high-quality, bespoke accountancy, taxation, and advisory services.

Xero Platinum Partners and winners of Xero’s ‘Emerging Partner of the Year’ award in 2017, Taylorcocks remains at the forefront of modern accounting technology. They continue to carefully select their software partners and pay close attention to their app stack. In addition to Xero, Taylorcocks partners with the likes of Datamolino and the June 2018 ‘Xero App Partner of the Month’, ApprovalMax.

Bringing end-to-end spending under control

This commitment to technology helps Taylorcocks meet a significant challenge head-on, ensuring that the money spent by their clients is money well spent. This means any expenditure, regardless of the legal entity it originated from, needs to pass through a set of checks and traceable approvals. It’s also important that all invoices received from an approved supplier are carefully matched with the original Purchase Orders (POs) to prevent unauthorised payments, double counts, or costly errors.

However, this is a big ask for Taylorcocks’ client-first approach. Their clients often use accounting systems without the necessary flexibility and data storage to accurately track and analyse spending. What’s more, some of their clients lack the tools and internal business practices to define, follow, and enforce efficient spend management processes. They typically use Excel spreadsheets to keep tabs on POs, and have no real approval process or Bill-to-Purchase Order matching to speak of.

At the end of the day, this means that all information related to POs for a specific invoice is added to the spreadsheet after the fact – defeating the entire purpose of tracking spending.

A multi-site, multi-entity client case study

To overcome this challenge, Taylorcocks maintains a selective set of certified software applications, all pre-integrated with Xero, including the bill digitisation software Datamolino. However, the core elements for accurate end-to-end spend management and advanced expenditure control is delivered by the key features of ApprovalMax.

  • First, Purchase Orders are created outside of Xero and then put through a strict approval process before being recorded in Xero. This way only correctly approved Purchase Orders appear in Xero.
  • Second, all invoices pass through a customised Bill approval process in ApprovalMax, and are matched with the previously approved Purchase Orders – before any payment takes place.
  • Third, multiple approval levels and the Automatic Approval capability make a real difference for the clients’ needs and expectations. For example, if a Purchase Order is raised by an authorised user, and within a certain spending limit, it will be approved automatically. However, if it exceeds the designated threshold, it will be submitted to one of the regional managers for approval. In case of an unusually high invoice amount, the Bill will be automatically routed to the regional director, ensuring total control over spending across all entities and locations.
  • Fourth, all clients (but particularly expanding multi-entity organisations with several separate management structures and quickly evolving internal processes) benefit greatly from the unlimited number of flexible approval levels ApprovalMax lets them set up. This brings with it significant time savings, higher productivity, and a better quality of data. They also appreciate that they can now distinguish between Requestors, who raise POs but are kept outside of Xero, and the managers who will review and approve.

And aside from aiding compliance and facilitating the audit-ready end-to-end management of PO and Bill approvals, ApprovalMax also helps businesses to quickly gauge their overall spending with regards to a specific supplier. If this goes beyond a certain threshold, ordering from that source can either be stopped and switched to another vendor, or associated POs can be rejected by the approver.

The end result: Enhanced client satisfaction

Taylorcocks clients have enjoyed the flexibility of ApprovalMax, along with its ease of use and seamless setup. Starting with just one company in a multi-entity and multi-site group, the practice has quickly introduced ApprovalMax to each of the remaining units across the space of a few months, and are on standby for any other entities joining the group in the near future.

ApprovalMax has enabled Taylorcocks’ clients to fully automate internal processes related to POs and bills and lets them remain focused on high-value advisory and consulting services while spending less time on typical accounting routines. This has helped enhance client satisfaction and ensures that Taylorcocks retains its position as a leading trusted advisor.