From XU Magazine, 
Issue 29

Automated delegation of authority for Paddle Australia: a case study with Navigate VCFO

How ApprovalMax saves 28 hours per month for the finance and operational teams of Australia’s peak body for paddle sports.

This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Navigate VCFO is a Virtual CFO and outsourced finance team provider operating across three countries. They offer businesses of all sizes strategic CFO, accounting, bookkeeping and other finance team services. Navigate VCFO support growing entities and their distributed teams to get their jobs done faster and more accurately. To do so, they apply the knowledge gained from operating finance teams in large groups and setting up really efficient and easy-to-use software. 

Establishing an efficient accounting system for Paddle Australia

Paddle Australia is the peak body for paddle sports in Australia. It’s a multi-entity not-for-profit with head organisations in each state funded by state governments and the national organisation funded by the federal government. When they turned to Navigate VCFO, the first step was getting all of the organisations on board and moved to an agreed combined chart of accounts. As there also were different accounting systems in place, they had to find one suitable for all of them. After going through the options it was agreed that Xero would be the best choice.

Every month Navigate VCFO run more than 80 P&L reports for Paddle Australia which are very detailed because they offer so many programs and sub-programs across Olympic and non-Olympic paddling disciplines, paddle education and corporate services . Having introduced Xero and set up all required reports, Navigate VCFO wanted to improve operations for Paddle Australia. They chose EzzyBills for all their entities in Australia to enter incoming invoices into Xero, and ApprovalMax for automating the delegation of authority.

As Paddle Australia is a not-for-profit, having the right controls in place is really important. They do have a Delegation of Authority policy but managing it manually was difficult. Before, the finance administrator would get emails from people saying that something was approved and then had to refer to the policy and check what approvals that particular amount required according to the delegated authority. Missing invoices had to be followed up and checking whether an invoice really had been approved properly was quite an effort. Obviously, proving to auditors that the delegated authority was duly followed was difficult.

Automating delegated authority with ApprovalMax

With ApprovalMax, Navigate VCFO are able to customise the approval workflow with highly specific rules to be in line with the Delegated Authority policy. Paddle Australia uses Xero tracking codes for their various programs, so in the first approval step there is always the person in charge of a particular program – as long as their personal delegation amount threshold is not exceeded. Amounts over set limits also require the approval of a manager, and so on. Basically, the workflow in ApprovalMax automates the delegated authority. This means the board and auditors can rest assured knowing the right people have signed off the right documents.

The new process works like this: an operations team member emails supplier invoices to both EzzyBills and the finance email address (to advise the GL code and tracking categories). Next, the finance administrator opens and checks the draft bills in Xero to make changes if required and clicks on “Save & Submit for Approval”. In ApprovalMax, approvers are selected based on the predefined workflow. Once the approval process is complete, the finance administrator can pick up the approved bills for the next payment run. Bank approvers find a report in Xero to verify details if required.

When approvers want to double-check if the goods or services have actually been received, they can reassign the invoice approval to someone who can confirm this, further increasing the control over the whole approval process.

Benefits of using ApprovalMax

• Approximately 28 hours a month has been saved through the implementation of ApprovalMax across the finance and operation teams

• Expenses get recorded quickly, and payments are made on time with certainty 

• Automated delegation of authority for improved governance

• Enhanced coding accuracy: approvers can check the coding before it hits P&L without going back and forth

• The Operations team no longer chase emails for approvals

• Relief for the finance team: no missing invoices that have to be followed up, and pending approvals or late approvers are easily visible in the system

• No more printing out invoices for the payment run

• Audits benefit from clear evidence of compliance with the delegated authority process, documented in a detailed audit trail stored in Xero

• The executive team can approve invoices on the go while out of the office

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