The invoice review and approval workflow feature within Apperio enables in-house legal teams to streamline the process of reviewing and approving law firm invoices. This feature gives your business visibility over every action made as an invoice moves through the review and approval workflow.
The invoice review and approval workflow can be configured to suit your business’s unique internal process needs. For example, if an invoice amount reaches a certain threshold, you may decide an additional approval step is necessary from the GC or CEO.
If you would like to explore adding on this feature to your existing Apperio subscription, please reach out to your dedicated Customer Success Manager who will be happy to discuss with you in further detail.
Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on how to use the invoice review and approval workflow.
During the initial setup of the review and approval workflow, the default group of approvers for an invoice are assigned by the main stakeholders of your business.
Approvers are set-up as matter owners. For the first approval step, any matter owner of an associated invoice can approve, or query an invoice for the law firm to review. Take a quick look at this guide to learn more about matter owners in Apperio.
At each stage of the approval process the relevant approver receives an email notification of the action required from them.
Select ‘view invoice’ from the email to access the invoice in Apperio and begin the approval process.
Access invoices for approval using the dashboard widget
To easily access the list of invoices needed for approval we recommend adding the invoice approval widget to the dashboard.
This shows a list of outstanding and recently approved invoices. You can click on an invoice directly from the widget to access the approval workflow.
To learn more about customising widgets on the Apperio dashboard click here.
Once you’ve reviewed an invoice, you can choose to approve, query or reject it.
Select ‘approve’ where you can attach additional notes to the invoice before making the final approval.
Once approved you can track the progress of the invoice as it moves through the approval flow. At each stage of the workflow the relevant approver in your business will be notified.
As an approver, you can choose to query an invoice at any stage of the approval process - the relevant stakeholder at the law firm will be notified and will be able to review the queried invoice.
If the law firm resolves the query by clarification, the invoice will go back to the approval step it was queried from and the approval process will continue from there.
If the law firm makes updates to the invoice and re-bills it, the approval workflow will start again from the first approval step.
Approvers can reject an invoice by selecting 'Reject' and enter any reasoning or comments behind the decision. You then have two options:
- Send the invoice back to the previous step. This will notify the previous approver to decide what to do next.
- Send the invoice back to the first step of the approval flow. This will notify the original approver via email, who can then query the invoice with the law firm.
To view the approval history at any point, select the time icon to see all actions made at each stage.
What can I see on the invoice
On an invoice you will see the Billed and WIP figures.
The billed figure comes from the PDF invoice uploaded by your law firms. The WIP figure is determined by the WIP recorded in your firm's practice management system.
If the spend on the PDF invoice does not match the spend recorded in your firm's practice management system this will be flagged to you in Apperio on the matters list.
On the breakdown of the invoice you can see the data behind the discrepancy so you can make an informed decision on whether to approve, query or reject the invoice.
Examples of what could cause the spend on an invoice and the recorded data to not match include:
- An additional fee is added to the invoice
- A discount is applied
- The invoice is in a different currency to the data in a firms practise management system (PMS)
You can view the individual time entries associated with the billed figures on the ledger by clicking on the fee earner names.
What law firms can see on the invoice
As a law firm, if the spend on the PDF invoice does not match the spend recorded in your practice management system this will also be flagged to you in Apperio.
When submitting an invoice to Apperio you can fill in the fee and disbursement details.
If the recorded data does not match the spend on the PDF you will receive a warning message.
Some further capabilities include the following:
- Flexible configuration. The invoice review and approval workflow feature can be configured to accommodate an unlimited number of approval steps to suit your internal business processes.
- Automated rules. Create automated rules to trigger a pre-configured workflow. For example, if an invoice amount reaches a certain threshold, it may require an additional approval step from the GC or CEO.
- Supporting documentation. Reviewers can reference letters of engagement, records of instruction, credit notes and other supporting documentation that’s been associated with a matter file in Apperio, alongside an invoice.
- In-app comments. The feature enables reviewers to write comments for other reviewers.. This is useful for annotating pre-approved expenses, for example, which keeps the review process moving forward.
- Invoice query. Reviewers can query an invoice directly from within the workflow. All communication is recorded in the approval history for reference and auditing.
- Seamless integration. Apperio can easily integrate with an existing accounts payable (AP) system – to allow for timely payment of approved invoices.
Dashboard reporting. This feature provides customisable reporting in the Apperio dashboard to track progress and identify bottlenecks around invoice review. Some of the metrics that can be tracked include the aggregate status of invoices in review, the total time in review, and which invoices are still pending actions by a reviewer.