Multi-tier approval is a request management system that streamlines the process of providing multiple approvals for organizational workflows. It sets up a sequence of approvals to the highest level of authority required to complete an action. Once the first approval is finalized, the task moves on to the subsequent approver and so forth.
Benefits of Multi-tier Approval
Setting up a sequence of approvals helps address any roadblocks that prevent the timely execution of critical tasks — especially in medium to large sized organizations. Here are a few benefits of multi-tier approval and how it improves the user experience in EZOfficeInventory:
- Seamless task execution: In large organizations, tasks often get held up due to pending approvals on account of missing information. A multi-tier approval process lets you consolidate all the required data in a single sequence and present it to the relevant manager for their approval.
- Improved visibility: Multi-tier approval reduces the risk of inaccuracies in purchase orders. By involving multiple approvers in the process, it ensures that each PO is thoroughly reviewed and validated before being authorized, minimizing errors in quantities, and pricing.
- Compliance control: The feature helps organizations improve their control over processes and enhances accountability through involvement of employees from relevant departments.
- Improved team collaboration: The multi-tier approval process helps define the line of approvers as soon as a request is generated. This notifies all the approvers involved to take a prompt action to complete the task on time.
Let’s get you started with setting up multi-tier approval in the EZOfficeInventory app. This support document is divided into 3 main parts followed by some troubleshooting FAQs:
- Setting up workflows
- Running workflows
- Actions on workflows
1. Setting up workflows
In the first step we will discuss how to set up multi-tier workflows.
Enable custom workflows
In order to get started with Multi-Tier Approval, go to Add Ons → Custom Workflows and Enable the setting:
Set up members’ permissions
The roles are already set up in the app for you and will work for all system roles. If you want to make particular changes to a custom role, please see below:
Requester: If you wish to give permission to a role to be a requester, simply turn on the ability to view, update and delete their own Purchase Requests. This is already turned on by default when you start a custom role with any baseline. If you don’t want anyone in particular to request, you can turn off the permission.
Approver: By default any person added as an approver in the Multi-Tier flow will be able to approve or deny the purchase request. This is because to add a person in the flow you need special permission which is given to admins by default. If you wish to change or specify these permissions in a custom role. You can turn this ability off by using the permissions below:
Backup Approver: If an Approver is out sick, on vacation or no longer in the system, the backup approvers can still approve.
- Active Backup approver (company settings)- Will receive a notification if the Multi-tier approver is no longer in the system. You can set these as shown in the screenshot above.
- Passive backup approvers: These are all admins and the account owner. In addition any custom role with the ‘Approver’ permissions can also be a passive approver. Since these are passive approvers they won’t receive an email notification, however they will be able to view a count in the notification bell in the app.
Using these baseline permissions, we will use the following individual examples for explaining the workflows in this document:
- Requester: Zowa
- Approvers : Zoey, Zed and Zak
To start creating a workflow, go to the Main navigation menu → More → Workflows →Add Workflow. A pop up will appear asking you to fill in the following details:
Next you will be redirected to the Workflow Details page to enter the details and conditions for your process.
You can choose to have your Purchase Order approved by a certain approver, team or role. It can have a specific location condition, vendor or amount as shown above. Here we will set 2 conditions for our workflow:
The two conditions we have set include” Total amount is less than $100” and “Delivery Location Equals Corporate HQ”. This means any workflow fulfilling both these criteria will be approved by a specific Approver.
The AND/OR criteria can be changed by simply clicking on the toggle between the conditions. Similarly, you also have the option to edit the Filters Criteria by moving the brackets as shown below:
After adding the relevant criteria, select the Approver. You can either select a name or a role from the dropdown.
To cater to different scenarios, you can also choose the option to Auto-Approve or Auto-Deny a workflow. The completed workflow looks like this:
Once you have completed all the details, click on Save. Then go to the Workflow Listings page. Here you can shift the order of workflows up or down according to their position in the workflow chain.
The small to medium value order is associated with the condition “Total amount less than $10,000” and has two approvers, Zoey and Zed/Role: Manager.
The high value purchase request has the condition “Total Amount greater than $10,000” and three approvers: PM, Manager PM and Executive.
2. Running workflows
In this step, we will look at how a Purchase Order goes through the whole multi-tier approval process that we set up above:
Making a purchase request
Zowa (Requester) makes a Purchase Order Request with the details as shown below:
This Purchase Order has the delivery location listed as Corporate HQ and the total amount is less than $100:
This Purchase Request falls in the ‘Small Order to Corporate HQ’ category and its Approver is set as Zoey (PM/Admin).
Purchase request approval
Zowa’s request has been submitted and is visible in the Listings Page for the Admin.
The status shows Approval Pending (1 of 1) which means the request has a single approver.
The Approver will open the Purchase Request and choose whether to accept or deny the request.
The Purchase Request is denied by the Approver and the status is updated as shown.
Another Purchase Request is set up by Zowa with the total amount of $8000 and Delivery Location Corporate HQ.
Since this request does not meet the criteria of small orders to corporate HQ, it is categorized as a small to medium value order and has an Approval Pending State (1 of 2). The first approver (PM Zoey) approves the Purchase Request.
Once the first set of approvals is complete, the Purchase Request status shows ‘Approval Pending on Manager (2 of 2 in Workflow #19). Workflow #19 refers to the Small to Medium Value Order Workflow.
For the second approval, the Manager then goes to the Listings page to approve the request.
The manager opens up the Purchase Request and chooses whether to approve or deny the request.
When the Purchase Request is approved, the status changes to “Confirmed: Items Pending”.
High-value purchase request
For the high value purchase request, we set up 3 levels of approvals: PM → Manager→ Executive Manager. In this case, Zowa creates a high value purchase request with total amount greater than $10,000.
Once Zowa creates the request, it is received by the first approver PM (Zoey).
The Purchase Request is approved by the PM.
Next, the Purchase Request is approved by the second approver Manager PM.
The Purchase Request is then received by the Exec Manager who selects “Request Revision”.
The Exec Manager adds a revision comment and the Purchase Request is updated.
The PM is alerted and they open up the Purchase Request to address the revision comments. Zowa edits the quantity so that the total amount of the request is $65.
Note: In order to Edit the Purchase Request, the following permissions must be enabled in your account:
The Purchase Request then again follows the chain of workflows for approval. Once the revised Purchase Request has been approved, you can view the history of all actions in the Events tab. Here you can also view how the workflows change after the revision has been completed due to a change in total amount of the Purchase Request:
Note: The workflow ends when all approvers approve the request. In case an approver denies or requests revision, the workflow ends there and then. After the revision has been made it is again sent for approval in the relevant workflow chain.
3. Actions on workflows: Editing and Deactivating
In this section we will look at what happens when we edit settings in a running workflow including a Purchase Request.
Zowa has requested for a High Value Purchase Order.
Deactivating a workflow
Suppose the high value purchase request has to be deactivated. Upon deactivating, a warning message will be displayed listing all the associated requests.
The workflow cannot be deactivated with the Purchase Request still running, it will be deactivated once the associated request has been completed.
Editing a workflow
The Account Owner edits the approvers list to ‘Roles’ instead of ‘Users’.
These changes will be reflected in the history of the workflow. Go to the Events tab and view the changes.
As shown above, the earlier version of the workflow (#6) has been deactivated and the new edited version is now activated (#20). Any Purchase Requests running in workflow #6 will be completed according to its sequence of approvals. Any new Purchase Requests will follow the new workflow.
Note: If the workflow has no PR pending in it, it will simply Edit without a new version.
However, if there are any pending approvals in it, a new version will be created
4. Troubleshooting FAQS
What if the approver for workflows is on leave or needs to be deactivated?
It is possible to have a situation where the set approver is not available (due to being deactivated, deleted, or non-login). In such a case you can set up an active backup approver by going to Settings → Add Ons → Purchase Orders
Whenever the approver mentioned in the workflow is not available, the Default approver will be notified.
Can a request be auto-approved/denied based on certain criteria without any approver involved?
Yes, we have the option to auto-approve/deny. For example, for large purchase requests you might require 3 approvers. But for small purchases, say less than $10, you might want auto-approvals. Here is how you can set Auto-approve:
I submitted my request 10 days ago. Why isn’t it approved yet?
If an approval is waiting on a person, the system will continue to wait. At any time, any backup approver can approve the request. To look up who a request might be waiting on, you can use two techniques:
- In the PO Listing page or [details page], any purchase request will show you the step it’s pending on and the name of the approver.
- In the workflow details page, under the Executions tab all Purchase requests waiting in any step will show you the step and the name of the approver.
The wrong Purchase Request (PR) was approved by the wrong approver. How can I trace why this happened?
The system will act according to the way the workflow was set up. To look up why a PR was approved the way it was, you can view the history of the PO and see the entire approval history: You can also look at the history of the workflow created as to how it was set up across its versions:
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