Like any other business, we have our own approval workflows. We have expense reports, leave approvals, sales orders, partner orders and employee on-boarding. They require signatures, approvals, PDF generation – the same stuff that our customers do using frevvo.
So, how have we automated some of these? I’ll describe Expense Reporting here and discuss some of the others in future articles.
The first thing we did is create a frevvo space for our internal paperless portal. Anyone can access this space from their desktop browser, tablet or smart phone. If you’re not logged in, you’ll only see public forms and flows. If you’re an employee and logged in, you’ll also see internal forms and flows like Expense Report. Personally, I have a bookmark to this in all my browsers and have added it to my home screen on my iPhone and iPad so I can easily access it anytime.
The workflow is simple: an employee fills it in, attaches relevant receipts, signs it and gets approval from the direct manager. It then goes to Accounting where Sue enters it into the accounting system (Peachtree) and cuts a cheque. Each line item on the expense report must be individually entered with the proper GL code. Painful! When the workflow completes, it sends an email to the employee with a cc: to Sue who files the email away in an email folder. At any time, the employee can go to his/her task list and view the status of the workflow.
There’s room for improvement but even this much automation pays dividends. We used to have an Excel spreadsheet saved on our internal wiki just like thousands and thousands of companies. Every time I wanted it, I couldn’t quite remember where it was so I started saving my own local copy. Of course, that got out of date quickly and I’d be filing an expense report with an old Excel – frustrating for everyone and ultimately takes time and costs $$. Approval was by email and there’s really no way to track it other than to send another email. Even when we were just 4 people, this was a real pain.
But, we plan to improve this further. Like many companies, we’re looking to as many Cloud solutions as possible. So, we’re looking at switching to a cloud-based accounting system like Quickbooks. Once this is done, there’s no need for Sue to manually enter the data into Peachtree. I’m sure she’ll love that. Using APIs, we can automatically make the GL entries. We could even automate payment but we’ll probably have the workflow make a pit stop at Sue for payment.
Once it’s paid, there’s no reason to store the expense reports in Sue’s email folder. We’ll start saving them to a cloud-based document management system – quite possibly Google Docs. Each Expense Reports can be saved to a specific folder using a file name with the employee’s name and date. Or, if we wanted to get more sophisticated, we could use a real document management system and save the expense reports there with the appropriate index fields.
The final workflow will look like this.
Nicely automated, efficient and super useful. Interested in doing the same for your business? Contact us now. It’s amazingly easy and affordable with frevvo.