Approval Workflow is a functionality wherein designated Accounts Payable users can be assigned the authority to act upon an invoice by either approving/rejecting the invoice. Additionally, Autonomous AP provides features like email reminders for initiating actions on the invoices, requesting more info through messages, delegate/skip approvers. As a part of the workflow, configuration to enforce acknowledgment is provided, enabling due diligence is being done explicitly while actioning an invoice.
The Approval Workflow functionality allows users to assign approval or rejection authority.
For this, you need to:
- Setup User Roles
- Configure Workflow settings
- Adding Approval Workflows
- Delegate Approvals and update user settings
- Take Approval Related Actions
Approval Workflow Configuration
Setting up User Roles
Autonomous AP Users can have different Approval Workflow roles based on functionality: Approver, Workflow Admin, and Functional Admin. This section explains setting up user roles by editing the user details. To Setup the User Roles follow the steps mentioned below:
STEP 1: In the left pane on the main page, go to System Admin > Users.
Image: Edit User
STEP 2: Select the Edit User Pencil Icon on the Users page for a user you want to add an Approver role.
Image: Approval Workflow Roles
STEP 3: In the Role Assignment section, select Approval Workflow. You can assign the following roles:
- Approver: Approves or Rejects an invoice in the workflow
- Workflow Admin: Assigns invoices, delegates tasks, etc.
- Functional Admin: Assigning user roles, configuring entities etc.
STEP 4: To view what a particular user has roles/accesses, navigate to the Notifications Worklist > User Settings section under the Notifications Worklist.
Image: User Settings
Delegate Approval gives the user the ability to delegate approval rights to someone for a period of time.
Image: Delegate Approval
Configuring Workflow Settings
This Section explains the configuration of Approval Workflow on the General Settings page. You can customize the approval workflow by enabling auto-approval reminders, acknowledgment, etc.
1. Enable Approval Workflow
Users can enable or disable the workflow from the Approval Workflow section in Autonomous AP > Setup and Configurations > General Settings. To enable an Approval Workflow, users can turn the Enable Approval Workflow status "On.”
Image: Enable Approval workflow
2. PO Check
This functionality helps to define the Approval Workflow for invoices basis the Purchase Order check. Users can choose invoices that are either PO-backed/Non PO-backed or All invoices.
Image: PO Check
3. Excluded Supplier List
Users can also remove certain Suppliers from passing through an Approval Workflow with the help of the Excluded Suppliers List search bar. This action will typically be for Suppliers who provide goods/services and have recurring bills of the same attributes. In this case, Approvals may not be needed.
Image: PO Check
4. Approval Notification Email Setup
This functionality helps in sending out automated email reminders with a defined gap of days/weeks to Approvers, thereby intimating to them that there is an action pending and they need to either Approve or Reject an invoice. Select from Send out notification dropdown to configure approval email notification.
You can set up the emails to be sent immediately or on a daily basis.
Image: Approval Email Notification Setup
Within the Invoice Details, the "Resend Request" button is available to trigger an email notification to the approver.
5. Auto Approval Reminder
To enable Auto Approval Reminder Setup, turn on the status toggle.
Using automated email reminders, users can be alerted that an action is pending and an invoice must be approved or rejected. Additionally, you can specify the interval between reminders in days or weeks.
|Note: The reminders would be sent only to those users whose approving action is marked as pending.
Image: Approval Reminder Email Setup
6. Enforce Acknowledgement
This provides due diligence or a double confirmation check from the Approver while approving an invoice. The Acknowledgement Content is customizable but limited to 300 characters of text.
Image: Enforce Approval Acknowledgement
Add Approval Workflow
This section provides information on Adding the Approval Workflow and how to create unique workflows for an Entity, Supplier, and Requester, including setting up the approvers. To add an Approval Workflow, follow the steps mentioned below:
STEP 1: In the left pane on the main page, go to Autonomous AP > Setup & Configuration > Approval Workflow. The Workflows page opens, which displays the list of configured workflows.
STEP 2: On the Workflows page, select the Add Approval Workflow button.
Image: Add Approval Workflow
STEP 3: The Approval Workflow Configuration Page opens. On the Approval Workflow configuration page perform the following actions to configure an Approval Workflow as per the steps highlighted in the image below.
Image: Configuring Approval Workflow
- Add a unique name to the Approval Workflow.
- Select the Entity, Supplier, or Requester from the Field dropdown. Similarly, select the COA Structure. The COA structure will be displayed on the Approval Workflow page only if the COA is associated with that particular entity (only for Entity).
- To configure criteria and assign Approvers:
- Select the Amount.
- Select the Condition based on the payment threshold. You can select either ‘Greater than (>) or Less than (<)’. Level one approver should have the lowest payment threshold, followed by the others – from lowest to the highest amount.
- Select the Approver.
- You can click the Add Criteria button to configure additional criteria for the Approval Workflow.
- Select the Save button to save the workflow.
Configuring Approval Workflow based on Supplier and Requester Levels
The Approval Workflows can also be configured at the Supplier and Requester level providing more flexibility to the users. Multiple Supplier and Requester entries can be added while configuring the Approval Workflow on the Supplier and Requester Level.
To configure the Approval Workflow at the Supplier and Requester, levels follow the steps mentioned above and in the Field dropdown select either Entity or Requester.
This Section explains how you can set up Precedence for the approval workflows. In addition to setting up the Approval Workflow at the Supplier and Requester level, users can prioritize the Approval Workflow, in case multiple workflows are configured. For example: If the Supplier field has priority over an Entity field, the invoices will be routed to the Approvers associated with that particular Supplier Workflow. The Approval Workflows can be prioritized by accessing the Precedence Setting in the Approval Workflow tab.
To configure the Precedence Setting for Approval Workflow, follow the steps mentioned below:
- In the left pane on the main page, go to Autonomous AP > Setup & Configuration > Approval Workflow. The Workflows page opens, which displays the list of configured workflows.
- Select Precedence Settings. A Precedence Settings Page opens, displaying the fields based on the set Priority.
- On the Precedence Settings page, select the arrow to update the priority of the fields.
Image: Precedence Setting
|Note - The default sequence for the Precedence Setting will be Entity, followed by the Supplier and Requester.
Mass Update Approval Workflow
In some instances, an approver in the Approval Workflow needs to be updated due to process change, termination of employment, or any other reason to ensure that the invoices are actioned and do not remain in the Pending Approval status for long. The ability to mass update the Approval Workflow enables modifying an approver for an existing Approval Workflow and migrating all the invoices to the new approver in the Pending Approval status.
- In the left pane on the main page, go to Autonomous AP > Setup & Configuration > Approval Workflow.
- Select the Approval Workflow for which you want to change the approver.
- Navigate to the approver section.
- Replace the existing approver by selecting the new approver from the available dropdown list.
- Click on Update.
Image: Mass Update Approval Workflow
Once the Approval Workflow is saved, the system will display the following confirmation message.
Image: Mass Update Approval Workflow Notification
Clicking " Yes” will migrate the invoices in the Pending Approval status to the new approver.
On the Invoice Details screen, click on the Approval Icon to view the changed approvers for the invoice.
Image: Approval Hierarchy
Invoice System Hold
There are scenarios where users might have missed configuring the Approval Workflow, which unfortunately leads to invoice processing without approval from the proper authorities.
The Invoice System Hold feature ensures that all the invoices go through the approval cycle and get approved by the concerned authorities. When an invoice is validated and the system doesn't identify an applicable workflow for it, the invoice will be transitioned into the Pending Approval status with a system hold. An exception message will appear under the Required Actions section on the Invoice Details screen. The details will also appear in the invoice history section along with the timestamp.
Important Behaviors of the Invoice System Hold
- If the invoice and System Hold are in the Pending Approval stage, the Approve and Reject buttons will be disabled.
- Invoices will be put on hold until a matching approval workflow gets added
- System hold exception cannot be overridden.
On the Invoice Workbench, you can filter out the invoices in the Pending Approval state for whom the Approval Workflow is not found.
Image: Filter (Hold Reason)
System Hold Removal
When users configure a new Approval Workflow and save it into the system, the system will automatically detect invoices in the Pending Approval status with the hold reason. If any applicable invoice to the newly added workflow is found, the system will start the approval process on the invoice and remove the hold.
Once the hold is removed from an invoice, it will appear in the history section along with the timestamp. This enhancement will ensure the invoices are actively routed to the proper authorities for approval.
Notification Worklist > Autonomous AP Worklist
The view serves as a master screen for looking up all the invoices where approvals or other actions have taken place, in addition to viewing the correspondence/messages.
Autonomous AP Worklists provide a consolidated view of invoices and their current status. Additionally, users can view all the ongoing communication regarding a specific invoice from the Worklist view. The Notifications Worklist serves as a master screen for looking up all the invoices where approvals or other actions have taken place and viewing the correspondence/messages.
The Autonomous AP Worklist page gives you an overview of the invoice approvals. You can search for invoices by using search terms and filters. You can narrow down your search results and get specific matches. On this page, you can Approve, Reject, or Skip invoices.
Notification Worklist - Approvals
The Approvals section is a consolidated view of all the invoices as well as their current statuses. It would list all the invoices lying in the queue and awaiting further action or already actioned upon by either approving/rejecting or skipping. The ">" icon would take the user to the Invoice Details screen. By default, this view would be filtered on "Pending" statuses (which means invoices are yet to be actioned upon), but users can feel free to choose additional options as available. They can filter basis the "Time Range" - which means the invoices that are close to meeting the defined time limit and should be actioned immediately. Workflow Admins to modify an Approver from the Notifications Worklist screen in the approval chain. The Workflow Admins can take the following actions:
- Click the Change Approval button to change the Approver from the workflow step.
- Click the Skip button to skip the Approver.
- Select the bulk entries visible on the Notification Worklist page and click either the Change Approver or Skip Approver button.
- Apply filters in the Search Filter for every column.
Skip or Change Approver
In some instances, users in the approval chain may not delegate their approval because they are on vacation or forget to delegate their approval, and due to this, the invoices remain unactioned. Since no action has been taken for the invoices, they keep accumulating and awaiting approval to proceed in the invoice processing lifecycle. The ability to mass update the Approval Workflow enables the Workflow Admins to modify an Approver from the Notifications Worklist screen in the approval chain. The Workflow Admins can take the following actions:
STEP 1: Click the Change Approval button to change the Approver from the workflow step.
STEP 2: Click the Skip button to skip the Approver.
Image: Autonomous AP Worklist
STEP 3: Select the bulk entries visible on the Notification Worklist page and click either the Change Approver or Skip Approver button.
Image: Bulk Actions
STEP 4: Apply filters in the Search Filter for every column.
|Note - Bulk action only works for invoices selected with the same current approver.
Notification Worklist - Message
The Messages section gives a consolidated view of all the communication that is happening amongst the AP users for each of the invoices.
Image: Autonomous AP Worklist (Messages)
Users can initiate a communication channel within an invoice by following these steps -
- Select the invoice id to send messages.
- Toggle to the Messages tab in the right-side panel.
- Click on the “Send New Message” button.
- Select approvers within the workflow by tagging them using “@(add the name of the approver)”
- Click the “Send” button once complete.
The tagged approver(s) will then receive an email notification. The receiver (s) will see the invoice id, the name of the sender, and a compact view of the message. They can also directly access that invoice by selecting the “View Full Message Log in AppZen” button.
Image: Message Log
The receiver of a notification can respond to the messages by clicking on the "View Full Message Log in AppZen" button in their email. This directs to their Messages tab within the Notification Worklist (after authenticating). Here, the user sees the Message alongside the Invoice Number, Sender, and time stamp.
To respond to the message -
- Click on the “Reply” icon in the Actions column of the Messages tab. This opens the “Messages Log” to view all of the communications associated with the invoice.
- Type the reply in the “Send New Message” text box.
- As both the sender and receiver are already on the subscriber list, tagging the receiver can be skipped.
- Click the “Send” button.
Once communication is sent, the sender and receiver(s), become subscribers of that invoice. They will receive notifications for all messages linked to the invoice and will see them within their Messages tab. Each of the approvers involved in the invoice approval workflow can see the communication in the approval history and message logs. They will, however, not receive a notification unless tagged.
Here are some actions that are expected
- Approve - If you are the last to Approve, the invoice will move to the “Processed” stage. If there are more Approvers in the hierarchy, the invoice will move to the next Approver and show the message “<APPROVAL NAME> Approved this invoice.”
- Reject - If you Reject the invoice, and if you the last person in the hierarchy, then the invoice will move to “Rejected” status with the Message “Workflow Rejected”. If you are not the last in the hierarchy, an invoice will still move forward to the next Approver with the message “<APPROVAL NAME> Rejected this invoice”.
In addition to the above actions on the invoice approval page, few other actions can be performed as mentioned below:
- Delegate Approvers - With this functionality, you can assign the invoices to other users for a specific timeframe.
- Skip Approvers - You can skip an Approver for that particular invoice with this functionality.
- Change Approver - This functionality allows you to Change an Approver for that particular invoice.
Approval Actions on the Invoice Details page
This section explains the Invoice Details page and associated actions related to approvals.
STEP 1: In the left pane on the main page, go to Autonomous AP Worklist. The Autonomous AP Worklist page opens.
Image: Approval Actions
STEP 2: On the Autonomous AP Worklist page, select the Invoice Number. The Invoice Details Page opens:
STEP 3: Here are some actions that you are expected to perform as an Approver.
- Approve - If you are the last one to Approve, the invoice will move to the “Processed” stage. If there are more Approvers in the hierarchy, the invoice will move to the next Approver and show the message “<APPROVAL NAME> Approved this invoice.
Image: Approval Levels
If the Enforce Approval Acknowledgement setting is enabled, approvers must select the I Acknowledge check box before approving the invoice.
Image: Enforce Approval Acknowledgement (Invoice Details screen)
- Reject - If you Reject the invoice, and if you are the last person in the hierarchy, then the invoice will move to “Rejected” status with the Message “Workflow Rejected”. If you are not the last in the hierarchy, the invoice will still move forward to the next Approver with the message “<APPROVAL NAME> Rejected this invoice”.
You can also navigate other invoices pending their approval by selecting Previous Invoice or Next Invoice from the Invoice Details screen.
Image: Previous and Next Invoice navigation.
- You can Add Comments on rejection or reprocessing.
- On approving the last invoice pending approval from the invoice details screen, you will come back to the Worklist Page.
- AP Staff users can send this invoice back from a Review Validations or Rejected state to the Review Data state. An invoice in the Review Data state can be edited by the AP Staff user.
- With the "Reprocess Invoice" feature, you can halt the Approval process and allows for required edits in the Invoice instead of rejecting it outright. If you have the Approver role you cab reprocess an invoice when it is in the Pending Approval State.
- To process an Invoice, Select Reject and then select Re-process the Invoice from the pop-up menu.
- As an AP Staff, you can also reprocess invoices directly from the invoice details page by clicking the top-right hamburger icon and clicking on “Reprocess Invoice if the Invoice is in Rejected state”.
Image: Reprocess Invoice