How Le Contrôleur used automation to reinvent remote approvals

Who is Le Contrôleur?

Le Contrôleur is an innovative Canadian accounting firm that provides monthly accounting services in the Quebec region. They use QuickBooks Online as their core accounting platform, along with a number of complementary apps to add value to their financial control services.

Their co-founders have IT backgrounds, and this is the first clue that they’re not your typical accounting firm. The second clue highlighting their difference is the emphasis they put on soft skills. The happiness of their employees and the success of their customers come before anything, and that has helped shape their mission of being in the accounting industry. 

The financial controllers, bookkeepers, and CPAs that work at Le Contrôleur are so focused on relationships that they have gone on to become part of their client’s teams; this internal support helps Le Contrôleur’s clients make confident and efficient decisions to drive them forward.

We talked to Felix Latour, co-founder and Director of Operations, to understand how ApprovalMax has helped add more value to their clients at Le Contrôleur.

Why email-based approvals were a fraud risk for Le Contrôleur and their clients

Although Le Contrôleur has used QuickBooks Online and Dext for their clients since starting their business, one important piece of the puzzle was missing: they needed an app to help their clients approve financial documents, and it needed to be easy enough for decision-makers to use right away.

For a particular group of clients, the need for approval management software became increasingly obvious to Felix – they were clients that the team couldn’t see in person every month, so accounting services were provided to these clients remotely.

One client was an engineering and construction company with project managers scattered across Canada. The company would get up to 650 invoices each month, and each project manager needed to review and approve up to 50 invoices. With this many people, Felix knew that raising purchase orders and approving invoices manually was never going to be a viable solution.

A dark blue logo with the words 'Le Contrôleur' in white is centre-left on a grey background. Agraphic representation of a workflow is on the right.

Before ApprovalMax, all costs were manually approved by email. This approval method was very slow because the project managers were busy on construction sites instead of being in the office where they could check their emails. On average, it took 15 days to approve an invoice back then.

If the client’s approval process was delayed, it caused a ripple effect and meant Felix and the rest of the team at Le Contrôleur had less time to deliver month-end reporting. In normal circumstances, month-end reporting was delivered to clients between the 12th and 16th of the following month, but for one client, the delay was longer due to the issues caused by manual approvals.

Also, approving financial documents by email offered little protection for instances of fraud and left the door open for potential misconduct. With manual approvals taking up so much time, it meant invoices under $500 would be rushed through. Fraud in companies happens when there are weak financial protocols and controls in place, and low amounts can easily go undetected for long periods of time.

A caucasian male smiles at the camera

“In our experience, fraud in smaller businesses is based on thousand dollar amounts or less. If approvals are run via email, it is tempting to only authorise invoices over a certain margin. As a result, a lot of lower value transactions go unnoticed just because there is no fast and convenient way to approve them. 

Felix Latour, Director of Operations at Le Contrôleur.

Adding ApprovalMax to their tech stack – the missing piece of the puzzle

Today, ApprovalMax is the only app in Le Contrôleur’s tech stack where the clients go in and use it themselves. Felix is happy that ApprovalMax is able to bridge the gap between the client and the accounting firm, and pushes high-quality, authorised data to the accounting system fast. He says it’s a good thing when monthly management accounting reports for clients can be prepared in a week, instead of a month.

“Our internal operations have also changed enormously with ApprovalMax. Before implementation, we were spending 10 to 15 hours per week dealing with the client’s AP, and now it’s down to a weekly 4 or 5 hours each week. The time it takes to process all approvals has been reduced to less than half, and the option to build custom reports makes follow-ups with the client much easier. 

Felix Latour, Director of Operations at Le Contrôleur.

ApprovalMax’s ‘Bill-to-purchase order matching’ is a feature that is proving to be very handy. It is another time saver, not only for Le Contrôleur’s construction and engineering clients but also for their clients who are running service businesses too. Matching incoming bills with the relevant purchase order used to be a time-consuming task – they had to match the total amounts and then reach out to the person who raised the purchase order to confirm the full delivery of the goods or services, which would slow the process down. With ApprovalMax serving as an approval routing solution for QuickBooks Online, Felix says this is no longer the case.

Why Le Contrôleur say ApprovalMax is the best approval routing app for QuickBooks Online

“Our internal operations have also changed enormously with ApprovalMax. Before implementation, we were spending 10 to 15 hours per week dealing with the client’s AP, and now it’s down to a weekly 4 or 5 hours each week. The time it takes to process all approvals has been reduced to less than half, and the option to build custom reports makes follow-ups with the client much easier. 

Felix Latour, Director of Operations at Le Contrôleur.

2 caucasian men smile at the camera – one stands while the other sits in front of a laptop. They are Felix Latour and William Girard of Le Contrôleur

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