Invoice approvals shouldn’t be this hard

Maintaining control over company spend across all departments can become increasingly difficult at scale. Accounting and finance teams need visibility and control on spend so that they can perform accurate cash flow forecasts, stay on top of payments, negotiate favorable payment terms, and ensure they keep the company on track to hit the budget.

Many companies rely on email, messaging tools, and in-person interaction to provide updates about upcoming and past invoices. Or, in many instances, they don’t provide an update at all. When the accounting and finance departments are getting notified in disparate tools, or not being notified at all, balls get dropped. Payments get missed, budgets get blown out, and forecasts become unreliable.

Create a web app to streamline invoice approvals

A better alternative to streamline invoice approvals is a custom web app where users and contractors can easily upload invoices and the accounting team can seamlessly approve them in one tool.

With a web app, admin users can get a global view of all invoices and information about their payment terms, renewal date, amount, purchasing department, and more that helps them keep the financials accurate and organized. It also helps the submitting users keep track of the status of their invoice without having to constantly bug other departments for an update.

We have created a simple and easy to use invoice approval template that can be customized to meet your company’s exact workflows, so that you too can maintain control over company spend.

Page 1: Form to submit invoices

The first page of this app is a form for basic users and contractors to submit invoices for approval. Before you can create this form, you first need a table to store the invoices.

Invoices table

Fields:

  • ID, id
  • User ID, id
  • Username, text
  • Purchasing Department, single-select
  • Vendor Name, text
  • Amount, currency
  • Start Date, date
  • End Date, date
  • Payment Terms, single-select
  • Auto-Renew, boolean
  • Invoice, file attachment
  • Status, single-select
  • Comments

Invoice Submission Form

Now that you have the table created to store invoice information, you can create a form from this table. When creating this form, there are some fields that you’ll want to remove as these are designated specifically for finance and accounting to use after the invoice is submitted.

When building your form, configure the submission button so that a notification is sent to the approving parties so that they know when new invoices are waiting for their approval. In the same configuration, it’s also helpful to redirect the user who submitted the invoice, to a new page where they can view the status of all their submitted invoices.

no code web app builder template

Page 2: Approving invoices

The next step in creating your invoice approval web app is to create a page for admin users to approve invoices. This page can be super simple. It needs to include all invoices that have not yet been approved and allow for the admins to approve or decline each invoice.

To accomplish this, create a collection view of the invoice table. Be sure to filter the collection to exclude all invoices that have already been approved based on the status field. Also, make sure you set permissions on this page so that it’s only accessible to users that have approval rights.

That’s it. This setup will allow for approvers to view the invoice queue and approve and decline them with one click. In our template, we also include a button that allows these users to navigate to the invoice dashboard to view helpful analysis on the company’s financials.

no code web app template

Page 3: View invoice status

At this point, the basic functionality of the app has been created. Users can submit invoices for approval and admin users can approve the invoices.

We find it helpful to take the app one step further by creating a page for the submitting users to be able to track all of the invoices they’ve submitted and the current status of those invoices. This helps keep these users updated on the status without constantly having to interrupt the accounting team.

To create this page, simply create another collection view of the invoice table, but this time, filter the invoices to only display the current logged in user’s invoices. You can break these apart into separate tables based on status or date submitted, but we tend to give the user a full table of their invoices, sorted by submission date and then by status.

Page 4: Invoice analytics dashboard

Another step you can take to make your invoice app more powerful is creating an analytics dashboard. An analytics dashboard would be a helpful tool for admin users to get a view of key financial information at a quick glance. Here are some considerations on helpful visualizations and metrics to include:

  • Total invoice amount due by month for the next 12 months
  • Total trailing 12 month invoice amount by department
  • Table of all invoices due, summarized and sorted by vendor
  • Total invoice amount due for the next 12 months, summarized by payment terms
  • Total invoice amount due for the next 12 months, summarized by payment terms

Other considerations

An obvious consideration with this app is integrating with your accounting system such as Netsuite, Quickbooks, or Microsoft Dynamics. By integrating your app, you can pass critical invoice information into your accounting system to ensure vendors get paid on time and invoices get classified correctly.

Another consideration may be to set up automatic approval automations. One reason you may want to do this is so that your finance team doesn’t get bogged down approving invoices below a certain dollar threshold. In this case, you can set up an automation to automatically approve all invoices under $300 (or whatever you’d like to set the threshold at). Another reason may be that you want to make key employees such as the CEO, exempt from needing approval on their invoice submissions. Again, an automation is a great way to handle this edge case.

Conclusion

Creating a custom web app to submit and approve invoices can save your team time, frustration, and conflict that typically comes with running this process in a series of different tools. Consider using our template or building your own web app to regain control of company spend.

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