January's App Of The Month – ApprovalMax

15 January 2020 - Elizabeth Nichols

ApprovalMax has long been a mainstay of approved Xero apps which aims to help companies get important purchase and sale invoices approved in a seamless and streamlined fashion. As our January 2020 App of the Month, we’ve delved further into the workings of ApprovalMax and how it could benefit your company.
ApprovalMax was born from an idea of speeding up the approval process, whether that be a sales invoice, purchase order or bill, which in traditional workflow processes can often delay payment, especially when nobody knows where the invoice has got to in the system. By taking this idea, ApprovalMax have built an app that ‘does what it says on the tin’, without trying to overcomplicate a process that can be time consuming already. It uses customisable workflows to automatically direct invoices to the person that needs to approve them and uses notifications to prompt action.
How it works
The workflows available in ApprovalMax cover both Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable functions. These are built from scratch according to the needs of the user, with each approval step having an array of multi-layer conditions that can be required to be met including amount, requester, supplier or customer, account code and invoice branding.
The approval process will then start by ApprovalMax extracting either sales or purchase invoices that are sitting in ‘awaiting approval’ from Xero. There is also the functionality within ApprovalMax to raise purchase orders for approval directly from the software, with the subsequent purchase invoice being matched off once received.
These invoices will then start the journey through the workflows, with designated Approvers receiving an email if the workflow criteria are met. A timescale of when the approval needs to be complete can be set so that the process doesn’t stagnate. Should the process hit a barrier with an Approver being unavailable, a Delegate can pick up the approval process and ensure invoices aren’t unnecessarily held up.
Once the workflow is finished and the invoice has been approved by all the required Approvers, the invoice will move from ‘Awaiting approval’ to ‘Awaiting payment’ in Xero, ready to be paid and subsequently reconciled.
Why should you consider it?
The benefits ApprovalMax could bring to your business are around efficiency and document management. Not only will the approval process become effective from the outset, a full overview of the workflow can be managed by key members of staff, with audit trail, visibility and accountability.
Business owners and managers can also have assurance that fraud or errors that may have happened if no approval process was in place will now be spotted or brought to light. Reports can be produced from ApprovalMax to show approval times for individuals and highlight who currently has approvals outstanding. The dashboard is simple to use, with all the features easy to access and visible in a sensible place (no one likes to search!).
Tutorials and support are readily available and included in the price which can be accessed directly in ApprovalMax. The Knowledge Base has plenty of helpful guidance and notes on how to get the best out of ApprovalMax.
Potential pitfalls
As with any new procedure or system, time needs to be spent setting up the workflows. There can also be a further time constraint if processes aren’t already in place and must be designed from scratch. This requires investment and careful planning to ensure the processes aren’t too simple nor too complicated.
At the time of writing, ApprovalMax doesn’t have a workflow for employee expenses, but hopefully it’ll be an area they’ll invest in in the near future in order to close off the internal approval processes via one app.
The biggest difficulty with adopting ApprovalMax is the change management associated with adopting a digital approval process. This requires careful communication with your team and a planned roll out.
Finally, it is worth pointing out that ApprovalMax is purely an approval tool and a document capture system, such as Receipt Bank will also be required.
Costs for ApprovalMax start at £27pm, but you may be able to get discounts via your accountant or systems adviser so it’s worth asking them first.
The price point may seem like another outlay, but consider how much time is lost each month by employees or your finance team authorising expenses manually, which should easily be recovered by adopting a digital approval software.
Final thoughts
Overall ApprovalMax is a well thought-out app, with all the key areas in the approval process understood and managed well. As ApprovalMax takes away the need for paper-based approvals altogether, businesses can be safe in the knowledge that they are working towards their corporate responsibilities regarding the environment. It is not stand alone an so you should consider this app in conjunction with Receipt Bank.

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