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The Speed of Automation, With Audit Controls

I have discovered an addiction people have to a concept…

The concept is all-in-one software.

First, what is all-in-one software?

It is a software suite (usually cloud-based now) that, well, simply, does it all. Basic accounting module, inventory, manufacturing, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), accounts receivable, accounts payable, and more.

Why the heck would you NOT want everything in one place?

We have clients with upwards of 8 separate pieces of software. Each with a separate login.

What? Wait a second…I can hear you say. Are you trying to convince me that 8 separate logins creates more automation than one single sign-on?

I do not believe it, you say.

I will show you how with an example with one area – accounts payable automation.

Follow the Flow

You have a business with 12 locations.

A supplier emails a bill to your document hub software. No human touch.

Software pulls out the amount, the tax, the supplier name, and even the account code.

(**NOTE** here you will likely have an experienced accounting technician checking that everything is coded to the correct account. She will make any coding changes as needed.)

Next, the software publishes it to the accounting software automatically. It attached the bill. No human touch.

Another piece of software looks into your accounting software to route the bill just emailed to the correct department head for approval.

The department head gets an email from the software with bill attached. This person approves the bill with one click.

The software takes that approval and attaches an audit report into the accounting software moving it to “bills to be paid”, along with a copy of the bill and the audit report.

Note that so far this has been one mouse click by a human.

The accounting manager goes into the bill payment software. It sees that the software has auto fetched all the “bills to be paid”, along with the copies of the bills and the approvals (audit reports).

The accounting manager approves the bills for e-signature. (One or two mouse clicks).

The CFO gets notification via email to approve a bill for payment. She clicks “approve” in email.

This audit trail of approvals and e-signatures is recorded in the software.

The software then pays the supplier into their bank account.

Lastly, it records the payment into the accounting software.

Summary of What Just Happened

Okay, what just happened?

The software took care of multiple functions where in the past data entry clerks would have done it. (And done it often very poorly).

The human steps were:

  1. Accounting clerk checked that the document extraction software coded the bill to the correct account
  2. The department head approves the bill for payment (one mouse click)
  3. The Controller and owner each e-signed the payment (two mouse clicks)

The software did this:

  1. Extracted the details on supplier bill
  2. Posted to accounting software
  3. Routed bill via email to department head for approval
  4. Posted approved bill as “ready to pay”
  5. Attached documents including audit report at each stage
  6. Posted the bill payment to the accounting software.

How many logins were there?

  1. The accounting technician logged into the document software
  2. The accounting manager logged into the bill payment software to approve payments

No all-in-one software can do all of the above. Some steps, yes. Not all.

Why Does This Work So Well?

Specialization. When you go to a doctor he will always refer you to a specialist depending on what he discovers, right?

Your doctor will not send you to a nose and throat specialist if you have a sore foot.

Each doctor becomes highly focused on her speciality.

It is the same with software. We use a software called ApprovalMax to route bills to department heads for approval.

The accounting software does not do what ApprovalMax can do. The accounting software acts like a traffic cop receiving requests from the specialized software. It is the hub.

You would not trust a doctor who “does everything”. Nor should you trust a software that claims to do it all.

Thanks for reading…