XU Magazine - Issue 11

ApprovalMax Complements Xero for a Legacy ERP Replacement

Find out how ApprovalMax complemented Xero in a fully cloud accounting solution for the largest agricultural event in the Southern Hemisphere…

Founded way back in 1968 by a group of passionate farmers, the New Zealand National Fieldays Society Inc. has played an integral role in the growth and success of the country’s agribusiness sector.

A not-for-profit society and a registered charity, it was originally set up to provide a link between urban and rural businesses, and to promote agricultural interests both locally in New Zealand, and on the global stage.

Today, Fieldays can proudly look back on 49 years of significant growth, generating over $430m of economic benefit for New Zealand economy in the last year alone.

The Society owns, manages, and develops the breathtaking Mystery Creek Event Centre, a 114 hectare property, which is home to the NZ Agricultural Fieldays event – the cornerstone of the Society.

The Society also runs a variety of other industry-related events, such as Equidays and the Transport and Heavy Equipment (THE) Expo, both of which attract many local and international exhibitors.

Supporting a New Approach

In light of this success and growth, our organisation has been undergoing significant change.

Building on the collaborative relationship with Xero being a Principal Partner of the Society, we moved from a cumbersome ERP system to Xero’s modern cloud- based accounting platform.

This allowed the Society to overcome one of our critical challenges: lengthy and costly introduction of change. With the organisation quickly growing and business processes constantly evolving, it was crucial that we be able to support change at the system level as well.

With Xero, our accounting processes became available both online and on mobile, and most importantly they became significantly easier to set up and evolve.

However, we still needed to complement one more thing – the financial approvals. We required the ability to replicate the way the approvals worked in the decommissioned system, and to expand them to address the growing compliance and regulatory requirements of our booming agribusiness.

In addition to this, we also have some process specifics such as delegating the review and approval decisions. This required a more granular level of role definition and status tracking, which needed to be supported by the new approval system.

And that’s how we came to ApprovalMax.

The Native Solution

ApprovalMax is pre-integrated with Xero and complements it with fully functional approval workflows.

It gave us the ability to set complex routing rules and approver roles, including delegates. In short, it was the native solution we had been searching for.

ApprovalMax allowed us to – in the simplest way possible – create a complex approval matrix, wherein we defined roles, business rules, and routing workflows, all while remaining intuitive and easy to use.

Thanks to ApprovalMax, our process now looks like this:

Xero works as our central system, into which we feed all of our financial documents, including those from an external CRM and event management system.

ApprovalMax then works with every financial document present in Xero, including Purchase Orders, Bills, Sales Invoices, and Credit Notes.

Purchase Orders are raised in the ApprovalMax platform, and pushed across for approval by the relevant individuals. When they’re approved, the rest of the Xero processes take place.

Sometimes there won’t be a PO, and instead a Bill is received and routed through the corresponding workflow, while Sales Invoices and Credit Notes are also covered by the approval process.

The approval matrix defines approval request routing, and makes sure financial documents are routed to managers with the correct level of authorisation and approval authority, regardless of the document’s origin.

The Bene ts of this Integration

All in all, Xero – as a cloud-based accounting platform – allowed us to bring speed and flexibility to lead change.

We were able to quickly get our accounting processes up and running, with everything we need now centralised and available online. And with that the cost of change became trivial; the platform required no technical skills to implement and run.

ApprovalMax too was up to the mark. Cloud-based, extremely intuitive, and pre-integrated with Xero, setup of the approval workflows was quick and easy.

Bringing them together, the solution allowed us to achieve the following:

• Tighter Controls – we now have the ability to track the approval status, pinpoint bottlenecks in the process, and make sure everything is completed in a timely manner. Our approval process has now gained a greater degree of control and visibility.

• Accountability – we are now able to keep a record of the approval activity, including who approved what and when. We can also leave notes in case an item is rejected, offering some much needed context to the process while avoiding bloated email chains.

This level of accountability is incredibly important to us as we often delegate approvals. Having the option to run detailed audits – thanks to the audit trail feature provided by ApprovalMax – and review these decisions is fundamental for a non-profit organisation.

And we’re not ready to stop there. In the future we’ll be looking into extending our use of the ApprovalMax solution to approve employment contracts, sponsorship contracts, and other commercial or operational contracts.

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About the author

Anthony Burman

Anthony Burman is CFO of the New Zealand National Fieldays Society Inc. An experienced leader with a proven record in leading change, through system automation and innovative process design. Anthony is more than your typical accountant, with a passion that lies deep with designing organisational strategies utilising technology solutions to enhance organisations performance and profitability.
Anthony graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Business Management Studies from the University of Waikato.