App Advisory: Looking at the Process Management Perspective
The growing demand for app advisory services is not going unnoticed by accounting practices the world over.
It is increasingly being viewed as a promising new way of growing revenue by extending existing finance and accounting services to include app identification and selection.
In a nutshell, app advisory requires you to understand the opportunities available to your clients, and the challenges standing in their way. Ultimately, you must guide them to the technology – such as cloud-based applications – and the demonstrate how to use it to help them run, optimise and grow their business.
In this blog post, we take a closer look at app advisory services from the perspective of process management.
App Advisory Levels
There are several app advisory levels, depending on the inhouse expertise you as a financial service outsourcing organization have and feel confident in delivering:
- Guidance selecting the apps: Providing recommendations for application selection from the Xero ecosystem to simplify search and selection for your clients. This requires a high degree of familiarity with the apps, down to a feature-by-feature comparison in order to make the right decision.
- Guidance configuring the apps: Demonstrating how to set up the apps. This requires an even higher degree of familiarity with the products, on the user interface level (admin level familiarity with the products and product certification is a plus).
- Turn-key solution: Configuration of the selected apps based on the client’s business case. This requires an understanding of the apps’ functional footprint (you need to be very familiar with the apps – product certification is usually mandatory)
- Support and maintenance of the apps: Making configuration changes, handling functionality glitches, ongoing support, etc.
But is there a way to make this entire process easier? Yes, there is…
Introducing the “Trusted App Stack” Concept
From an outsourced financial service perspective, a trusted app stack is a set of applications bound by a common system of records, anchoring everything in place.
Xero is one such anchor. It comes pre-integrated with hundreds of applications, that can be used to fill in cross-activity processes (e.g. a spend management process, or an order-to-cash process, or a supply chain management process) over and above the core functions provided by the system of records.
This set of applications is normally offered together with configuration and implementation best practices, and is often accompanied by advisory, configuration, and support services.
From a client’s perspective, the Trusted App Stack is a proven and reliable set of tools delivered by its strategic supplier (and a trusted advisor). It should address a specific customer objective, such as improving visibility into company spending, eliminating duplicate payments to suppliers, or improving internal and external audits.
App Advisory from the Spend Management Perspective
Unsurprisingly, the highest value app advisory service comes in the form of advising on end-to-end processes. And one of the most business critical end-to-end processes is spend management.
The spend management process aims to ensure the organization is spending exactly the right amount it needs to spend. To do this, the following steps must be adhered to:
- A clear, controlled and documented process for purchasing must be established.
- Suppliers and the related budgets must be controlled.
- Invoices and Bills received must be clearly matched to your Purchase/Spend Orders. (As a minimum, 2-way matching should be implemented to ensure the goods received match the goods ordered.)
- A proper payment procedure should be introduced, so that everything is paid on time and without duplication.
- Proper spend coding must be maintained, and real-time analytics on your current and future spending made available.
The Trusted App Stack for Spend Management
If you’re interested in offering app advisory services for spend management, the following functional components from the Xero ecosystem should be present in your Trusted App Stack:
- A System of Records (or the core accounting platform): Xero, by default.
- Purchase Order Creation, Approval and Issuing: Xero, ApprovalMax.
- Invoice / Bill Import / Digitization: HubDoc, Receipt Bank, AutoEntry, Datamolino.
- Bill Review and Approval: Xero, ApprovalMax
- Bill Payment: Xero, Bill.com, Stripe.
- Expenses Management: Xero Expenses, Expensify, Webexpenses.
Discover the best practices for dealing with company spending issues by viewing our ‘Best Practices for Spend Management’ webinar recording here.