Customer Success Story:

Firefly Learning Ltd & ApprovalMax

Find out how a revolutionary leader in digital education

established much-needed spending and revenue control


countries worldwide


students using the software


Series A funding raised
Inspired by the interview with

ÁLVARO ARRANZ, Financial Controller

A cloud-based transformation story by a leading UK EdTech startup. By using ApprovalMax, Firefly Learning's spending was brought under control, revenue was proactively managed, and productivity and fraud prevention was significantly enhanced.

Digital technology now enables a radically different approach to the way people learn, deepening and enhancing knowledge and understanding, and improving communication between teachers, students, and parents (google "Flipped Classroom" to see how).

One of the companies leading this particular revolution is the UK-based Firefly Learning. Founded by two GCSE students, co-founders Joe Mathewson and Simon Hay, the first version of Firefly was developed to help their teachers and fellow students access school information online and outside of the classroom.

CHALLENGE: Overcoming a Major Spending Control Problem

As a high-growth startup faced with a spending control challenge, FireFly opted for Xero as accounting platform. This greatly simplified things, but it didn't quite solve their problem.

Due in large part to our investor's requirements - and made all the more challenging by our rapid growth - we needed a way for different budget holders (many of them not Xero users) to review and approve the bills related to their budgets.

SOLUTION: The Unexpected Advantages of Proactive Revenue Control

Pre-integrated with Xero, and providing for multi-step and multi-role approval workflows, ApprovalMax was the natural choice as our cloud approval system. The setup process was a breeze, and now all of our managers can approve their bills via ApprovalMax, without requiring access to Xero.

In addition to standard company spending, we've also used ApprovalMax to review and approve training budget requests - a major part of modern IT, and in EdTech especially. The way this works is that every employee has an annual training budget that they can request to spend on specific training sessions. Our employees have the opportunity to develop their skills and grow professionally, and the entire request process has now been streamlined thanks to ApprovalMax.

Having successfully dealt with our spending control challenges, we soon discovered another use for ApprovalMax: Revenue Management. We could control - and even increase - our revenue by generating, reviewing, and approving sales invoices, either for new customers, or for renewals with existing customers.

In the case of renewals, the request to generate sales invoices comes from our sales team. Once a sales invoice is generated, it's then reviewed and approved by a sales representative and the Head of Sales, before being sent to the customer.

However, it's our Account Management team who approve the invoices, and this would prompt them to contact our clients and have valuable discussions - even upselling before the renewal was sent. This allowed us to increase our revenue from existing customers, as well as enhance the satisfaction of new customers thanks to the correct, approved invoicing.

RESULTS: Enhanced Team Productivity and Fraud Prevention
  • Quick and comprehensive adoption and usability of the software
  • Improved internal productivity
  • Streamlined internal processes
  • Email notifications and approve requests directly within the email

What is more, ApprovalMax helped us pass an external audit, allowing us to address some points raised previously. This gave us the opportunity to focus on more productive issues, while minimising the time spent on audit preparation.

ApprovalMax provided far tighter controls around fraud prevention. In the past, approvals were often carried out via custom emails, without a well-defined approval workflow to safeguard the process. This resulted in emails being received impersonating people from within the company, requesting payment be made. Now, these fraudulent emails can't impact the company as they won't be accepted by ApprovalMax.

For Firefly, Xero and ApprovalMax has been a match made in heaven. We're now very excited to see what the future holds with this cloud-enabled software at the heart of our financial controls and revenue processes.

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