In the past, large enterprises have had the advantage of using an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to automate workflow processes such as purchase order approvals which are integrated with company finances.
Now there’s a cloud-based platform that delivers similar capabilities to small businesses and integrates with Xero.
The AppsForOps platform offers seven apps with customisable workflows that solve common operational problems. They can be accessed by managers and employees through a web portal, or with an iOS or Android app.
AppsForOps was launched in January 2015 by two Sydney-based entrepreneurs, Shaun Leisegang and Hennie Laubscher.
The platform's seven apps include:
- Expense Claims: Employees can digitally submit, track and get their expenses reimbursed.
- Expense Pre-Approvals: Employees can get approvals from managers before making purchases.
- Invoice: Consultants can track hours and other costs to create invoices to send to clients.
- Receipts & Bills: A central place to track purchases made with company funds, as well as to capture bills that are then queued up for payment.
- Time Off: Request and approve leave, with a calendar that allows managers to see when employees have time off.
- Timesheets: Digital tracking and management of timesheets.
- Travel request: A central place to request, track, get approval for and book business travel.
While each app can be used as a standalone product, Leisegang told BIT the true power comes when they are used together.
“Say I have consultants logging time on a project they’re using the timesheet app. Because they’re travelling they’re also using the travel expense app, and they’re probably logging expenses. Then to schedule that consultant to be out and about, you need to know when they’re off on annual leave,” he said.
“So to invoice that at the end of the month, what you need to bring together the time that consultant has worked, with any travel or related expenses to create one since invoice for that customer. You can see very quickly how these apps are intertwined.”
AppsForOps costs $15 per user per month to access the platform and one app, ranging up to $52.50 for all seven apps.
While it can be used as a standalone product, AppsForOps has been designed from the ground up to integrate with Xero using all available application programming interfaces (APIs). It was recently cited by Xero’s former senior evangelist Steven “Developer Steve” Cooper as an example of an app that “ticks all the right boxes”.
“Very early on in our journey of creating AppsForOps, we decided we were never going to make any finance system capabilities. That’s because there’s a few companies already making world-class finance systems and many customers are already using them,” Leisegang said.
“And then from a day-to-day perspective you can do everything from import and export employees to and from Xero, auto-update Xero with any employee updates, publish things like timesheets, receipts, sales invoices or even expense claim line items.
“It’s a very comprehensive integration. We use every single one of their APIs, and anything that Xero gives us in terms of capabilities with the APIs they have we look to see where we can tie that into the AppsForOp platform.”
The two entrepreneurs’ inspiration and expertise for the project came from their backgrounds.
“Hennie and I have a long history in workflow and business process management solving some of the problems we solve in AppsForOps, but for medium and large businesses,” Leisegang said.
“In that 10 or 15 year journey working with those medium and large businesses, our nirvana was always to have apps and process that were seamlessly integrated and bought all data together.
“We have always been part of small to medium businesses – we really have a passion for them – and we wanted to provide SMEs with world-class software to run their businesses on.”
Looking to the future, Leisegang said he is looking to add integration into the Microsoft stack of products, including allowing people to log in with their Microsoft ID, as well as offload documents such based on bills or expense claims to their OneDrive accounts.