QuickBooks ProAdvisor

In The Know: Multi-level approvals for bills

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Jaclyn Anku, ProAdvisor Training & Certification Leader: Hey, I'm Jaclyn, and welcome to In The Know. This is our weekly video show designed to keep you up to date on the most exciting innovations across the QuickBooks online ecosystem.

Today, we're diving into workflows for approvals specifically for bills. We heard users want multiple levels of approval for their bills based on their company's organizational hierarchy, so we're excited to introduce multi-level approvals for the bill approval workflow.

With multi-level approvals in place, users can send a bill for approval to multiple people in a sequence, so that the bills are thoroughly vetted before being sent out to vendors.

Here are the Fast Facts:

  • Multi-level approvals for the bill approval workflow are available to admins and accountants using QuickBooks Online Advanced.
  • You can access it by visiting workflows and then clicking on templates.
  • This feature has been available in the United States since April 2024 and is coming soon to Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. 

Let me introduce you to Rishabh, the talented product manager behind this exciting update. Rishabh, welcome.

Rishabh Surana: Hey, Jaclyn, thanks for having me on the show.

Starting with the product demo. I'll tell you where in the product you'll be able to find this particular template. You want to search for workflow automation on the left nav and then search for Bill. Once you do that, the first thing that comes up is the bill multi-condition approval workflow template.

Now once you click on that, it opens up this new visual builder that we have built out specifically for approval. Now approval workflows exist. We have just introduced another layer on top of that, which are the multiple levels of approval. Once you figure out what your business requirements are, you can set up a workflow accordingly. Here, what I have done is taken a bill amount as a specific parameter, so if it's between $0 and $1,000, I would want approval from certain people, but if it's between $1,000 and $5,000, I would want approval from another set of people.

Let me go ahead and set this up. I've added multiple approvers. So it's Sishi and Kartikeya and in that specific order, they'll be getting approvals once I create a bill. Now let me go ahead and set up this entire workflow, so you will see that for every condition, I have more than one approver, three here, two here, four, and so on. You can set this up according to your own business needs. Once you're satisfied with this, save and turn on the workflow, which is up and running in the background. 

Now I'll take you through one branch of this particular workflow; if the bill amount is between $1,000 and $5,000, it should go to approval to Sishi and Kartikeya in that specific order.

I've created a bill for one of my vendors, and the bill amount is $1,500. As soon as I save this particular bill, I have a pop up asking me to send this bill for approval, which I'm going to do. So I'm going to click on send for approval. And once I do that, it automatically goes into the pending approval status. This is a place where you'll see all the status regarding approvals, as in when the bill goes through that particular workflow.

Approval one, Sishi in this case, would come to the product, see this, and could reject or approve this one. Just for the sake of this demo, we can approve this. So as soon as I click on approve it says that bill for $1,500 dollars is partially approved. Now for the next approval, which in our case is Kartikeya, who has been notified. So Sishi's work is done, and now Kartikeya will come on the product, see this particular bill, and would again have an option to approve or reject. Once he approves, the state of the bill would change to approve. Now, you could schedule payments and/or send this out to your end customer.

This is our end-to-end bill approval, workflow, and scenario. And the entire audit of the same thing would be available on the workflows run history. If you go to the workflows tab and click on the Run History tab, you will be able to check what all has happened for a particular workflow, so that sort of completes the bill approval workflow tab.

Thanks Jaclyn; see you on another episode very soon.

Jaclyn Anku: Rishabh, thank you so much for being on the show with us. Let's turn now to ProAdvisors Roman Villard and Terrell Turner for them to weigh in. 

Terrell and Roman, thank you so much for joining me on this episode of In The Know. I'm really excited to get your point of view on why multi-level approvals for bills matter.

Terrell, why don't we have you weigh in there? Why does it matter that there are  multi-level approvals for bills set up for you and for your clients?

Terrell Turner: In your growing business, you can't really keep your hands on every single thing like you used to, so you want to make sure that as the owner of the business or as a leader, money is getting spent the way that it should. You wouldn’t want to have a situation where money got spent on something, and everybody is questioning who approved it after they're looking at the financials, To avoid that, I think these multi-level approvals really give them a lot more comfort, especially as they continue to grow, when you have to shift your attention to other things. You need the right tools to help you do that.

Jaclyn Anku: Roman, does that resonate for you as well? 

Roman Villard: Yeah, it does. You know that when Terrell is talking about growth, we're trying to introduce scalability to our clients, right? So as our clients grow in scale, how do we bring them the level of controls and processes to help them understand their cash flow. Cash is the number one concern for the majority of our clients, so to be able to have the capacity and the controls to ensure that the cash out the door is being managed effectively smooths over a lot of issues in that scalability process.

Jaclyn Anku: Now Roman, you and I have had conversations in the past about how important it is for your team or for accountants to have an advisory mindset. How would talking to a client about something such as multi-level approvals for bills lend itself to an advisory-type conversation?

Roman Villard: That’s a great question, because when we think about advisory, we think about that throughout the entire relationship with the client, from the transactional level through financial reporting. And so when we look at something like multi-level approvals for bill pay, the advisory component really leans on helping them manage their cash.

Like I mentioned, when we're going through these iterations of growth with the client, we want to ensure that we're bringing forward the right solutions, the right tools, and the right solutions to their problems that exist and/or they don't know exist. Often, they don't really know that this is an issue or can prevent some degree of scalability until we bubble that up to them. We want to be on the forefront of that: to be able to enable them to have a little bit more visibility moving forward.

Terrell Turner: We've been through this massive transformation when it comes to advisory with a formal process and controls, but when we really took a step back and boiled it down, advisory really just comes down to the value for the client. What we realize is that money is just an emotional topic, and I think money going out the door is an emotional activity. If too much money is going out the door, emotions are going to probably be pretty high. Anxiety may go up or whatever the case may be.

One of the things that we found when we are advisors to our clients is helping them not only just manage the money, but also managing the emotional fallout of it. I remember we were doing a financial statement review where we pulled up all the expenses and were reviewing them, telling the client what was spent on a category. There were a couple of things we came across, and while they used a few choice words, they wanted to know who approved the expense. We said we were doing the accounting, so it had to be someone in your organization who approved spending this money.

What we realized is that you have to have a process where you can actually get some level of approval or some level of accountability. Seeing money come out of your bank account and you not knowing who approved it was just creating anxiety for our client.

I think being able to add multi-levels of approval will give them a lot more comfort, to the point where when we're having a financial review, they're not blowing up in our meeting. After all, don't shoot us; we're just the messenger. We didn't spend the money … we're just telling you the story. I think this helps not only our client, but it also helps the dynamics of the relationship, because now we can start helping them actually get ahead of emotional blow-ups when money is going out unexpectedly. We can show them who approved it, when they approved it, and the workflow for it.

Jaclyn Anku:  Well, Roman and Terrell, thank you so much for your time. Thank you for sharing your insights and really helping us widen the lens and understand how a conversation that might be transactional could really turn into this rich advisory moment to help clients. I appreciate you both and hope to catch you next time. 

Roman Villard: Sounds great! Thank you. 

Terrell Turner: Thanks. 

Jaclyn Anku: And thank you for watching this episode. I'm Jaclyn, the host of In The Know and leader of ProAdvisor Training and Certification. Be sure to like, subscribe, and hit the notification bell so that you don't miss a single episode. We'll catch you next time.

Meet the ProAdvisors

ProAdvisor Roman Villard: Founder, Full Send Finance

ProAdvisor Terrell Turner: Founder, TLTurner Group

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