As an alternative to standard purchase approval and approval flows, in which approval routes are always fixed and predetermined based exclusively on invoice amounts, advanced approval allows for a typically faster and much more flexible approval process based on both invoice amounts and user-defined dimensions. This basically means that:
- You can freely define the dimensions that help to identify all approvers for any invoice that's sent for approval.
- The next approver isn't identified until the current approver has approved all relevant invoice lines.
The concept is best explained using a number of scenarios, as provided below. Note that this article uses invoices for illustrative purposes, although the functionality works equally well with credit memos.
Advanced approval must be enabled and set up in order to work. To do this, see Setting up Advanced Approval.
For advanced approval, the dimensions you define – together with the invoice line amounts – will determine who gets to approve any invoice sent for approval. The example scenarios below can illustrate how this works.
In these scenarios, an advanced approval group has been set up with the dimension Department Code applied, and the users Robin Bettencourt, Esther Henderson, and Otis Falls have been added as approvers. They have different approval limits for the two dimension values Production and Sales:
|Otis Falls||Production, Sales||$40,000|
For descriptive purposes and ease of understanding, these scenarios are based on the one dimension Department Code and only three approvers in the approval group, but you can easily have multiple dimensions and numerous approvers involved, thereby adding both flexibility and complexity.
At some point, an invoice with the following line dimension values and amounts is sent for approval:
In theory, this invoice could be sent to Otis Falls for full approval, as he has permission and sufficient approval limit to approve both of the dimension values and, consequently, both lines. However, as Otis Falls is the highest-ranking approver and Document Capture strives to burden high-ranking approvers the least, the invoice will instead be sent to both Robin Bettencourt (first approver) and Esther Henderson (second approver), seeing that they have the required approval permissions and limits to approve one line each. The invoice will be sent first to Robin Bettencourt, whose approval permission matches the dimension value of the first line (Production), and once he has approved the first line, the invoice will be forwarded to Esther Henderson, whose approval permission matches the second line (Sales). When she has approved the second line, the invoice is fully approved.
Later, another invoice with the following line dimension values and amounts is sent for approval:
For this invoice, none of the three approvers can approve all lines, so the approval of it will again have to be split between them. Robin Bettencourt has permission to approve invoice lines with the dimension value Production, but his approval limit of $25,000 is insufficient here, as the two Production lines (lines 1 and 2) come to a total of $40,000. For that reason, the first approver will instead have to be Otis Falls, whose approval limit is sufficient for him to approve the first two invoice lines. However, although he also has permission to approve Sales lines, he's unable to approve the remaining invoice line, as the total of the three lines would then exceed his approval limit. So line 3 must instead be approved by a second approver, Esther Henderson, who can approve Sales lines for up to $25,000, which is enough to cover the approval of this remaining line. With her approval of line 3, the invoice is then fully approved.
If you always want at least two approvers to approve invoices, you can enable four-eyes approval. This will play out differently depending on how you set it up when you enabled it. Using the same approval group as above, the following scenarios can illustrate the different flows:
In this scenario, you selected Invoice when you enabled and set up four-eyes approval.
At one point, an invoice with multiple lines that require multiple approvers is sent for approval. Since more than one approver is already required, four-eyes approval will be applied automatically, and there's no need for Document Capture to identify additional approvers. This is the case in scenarios 1 and 2 above, in which both invoices have multiple lines requiring multiple approvers, so if four-eyes approval had been enabled in these scenarios, the outcome would have been the same.
In this scenario, as in the previous one, you selected Invoice when you set up four-eyes approval.
Another invoice is sent for approval, but this one only has one line:
Two of the approvers in the approval group have the required permissions and approval limits to approve this line: Esther Henderson (who can approve Sales lines for up to $25,000) and Otis Falls (who can approve Sales and/or Production lines for up to $40,000). As Esther Henderson has the lower approval limit of the two, she will be identified as the first approver, and once she has approved the line, the invoice will be sent to Otis Falls for final four-eyes approval.
In this scenario, you selected Invoice Full Amount when you set up four-eyes approval, meaning that at least two approvers must approve the total amount of each invoice.
Yet another invoice is sent for approval, this time with the following line dimension values and amounts:
Robin Bettencourt has permission to approve Production lines, and his approval limit of $25,000 covers both lines – that is, the total invoice amount – so he will be identified as the first approver. When he has approved the two lines, the invoice will be forwarded to Otis Falls, who also has the required permission and approval limit to approve both lines. Once he has approved the lines as the second pair of eyes in the four-eyes approval process, the invoice is fully approved.
When you set up advanced approval groups, you can select Purchaser under First Entry Created by to always have the purchaser assigned as the first approver. However, in such cases, the purchaser will function as a sort of preapprover and will not be included as one of the two approvers required by four-eyes approval.
Setting up Advanced Approval
Work with Dimensions (Microsoft article)