This post continues my previous one and shows you how you can combine D365FO and MS-Flow workflows to send out and process MS Flow approval emails that allow the users responding to an approval request directly in the Email and view the invoice document as an email attachment.
The purchase requisition and invoice workflows used in the previous post assigned the approval tasks to the cost center manager of the person that requested the goods or services irrespective of the singing limit of that manager.
To incorporate the signing limits into the purchase requisition workflow approval step, I tried to modify this step in a way that it refers to a hierarchy. Unfortunately, this hierarchy selection did not allow me starting the workflow from the requester, as illustrated in the next screen print.
Applied to the example that was used in the previous post, the available ‘start from’ selection options do not allow assigning the approval task to Susan’s cost center manager unless Susan would submit the purchase requisition herself.
Setup Modification A:
To get this issue resolved, the purchase requisition workflow has been setup as a purchase requisition line review workflow, because this line-workflow type allows to be started from the requester. For details, please see the next screen prints.
In prior versions, the standard purchase requisition workflow could be started from the requester. This option has, however, been removed and as a result, a purchase requisition line-item workflow needs to be used to achieve the same.
To get the line-item workflow running, it must be incorporated into the ordinary purchase requisition workflow. This is achieved through the following setup.
In the following, a purchase requisition for a training course with a total value of $10000 is submitted to the workflow. Because of the changes that have been implemented, the approval task is now assigned to the marketing executive Julia because she has a sufficiently large signing limit. For details, please have a look at the following screen prints.
Setup Modification B:
In line with the changes that have been made to the purchase requisition approval step, also the invoice review & approval matching step has been modified in a way that it starts from the workflow owner.
Similar to what has been shown in the previous posts; Phyllis the accountant has been setup as the workflow owner and has been incorporated into the position hierarchy. For that reason, the correct person that is required for approving the invoice deviations can be identified.
If we continue the example and record a vendor invoice for $10900, that is an invoice with a price deviation of >5%, the review & approval task is directly assigned to Charlie, the president, as he has a sufficiently large signing limit.
Summary Expense Related Invoice Workflows:
This post ends the series on expense related vendor invoices. Based on what has been shown in the previous posts, it can be summarized that Dynamics AX/365 for Operations ships with a powerful and flexible workflow engine that can handle various invoice review and approval scenarios.
Setting up the different workflow steps might not always be as easy and straightforward as one can find this in specialized workflow add-on’s to Dynamics AX/365 for Operations. In addition, the previous posts showed that the pending vendor invoice form needs some modifications in order to allow users identifying the current workflow step and responsible at a glance.
Against the background of those ‘disadvantages’, the reader should be able to assess whether those enhancements can be built into Dynamics AX/365 for Operations oneself for the same or a cheaper price than a specialized invoice workflow add-on.
This post continues the previous one that ended with the approval of the purchase requisition.
Process step 4:
After the purchase requisition is approved, the requisition is converted into a purchase order, as illustrated in the next screen prints.
Dynamics AX/365 for Operations includes a separate workflow for the creation of the purchase order. This workflow is not used here because the creation of purchase orders is not the major focus of this post.
Process step 5:
To ensure that the ordered goods or services have been received, a category policy rule for the ordered training courses has been setup, which requires a three-way match and an explicit receipt posting before the vendor invoice can be posted.
Process step 6:
The last process step is supported by the following invoice workflow.
This invoice workflow starts with a verification whether matching differences exist.
If no matching differences exist, i.e. if the purchase order, the product receipt and the vendor invoice match, the invoice is posted automatically. Otherwise, a separate invoice review by the cost center manager is required.
Please note that this additional review step refers to the vendor invoice expenditure reviewer group ‘Approver’, which assigns the workflow task to the cost center manager that was responsible for approving the purchase requisition.
When setting up this price tolerance, it is important that the ‘post invoice with discrepancies’ parameter is set to ‘allow with warning’. If this is not the case, the cost center manager does not only need to review and approve the workflow step but also needs to manually set the following matching parameter in the invoice matching details form.
Because the cost center manager already approves the variance through the workflow, an additional requirement of setting the matching parameter in the invoice matching details form is a duplicate and consequently unnecessary step.
In the example illustrated here, a vendor invoice with a price variance of 8% is recorded.
As a result, the workflow does not directly post the invoice but rather assigns it to the cost center manager Kevin Cook for review/approval.
Provided that the ‘post invoices with tolerances’ parameter is set to ‘allow with warning’, the invoice is automatically posted, once Kevin completes his review step.
Posting the invoice ends the invoice workflow and this post. Within the next post, we will have a look at how signing limits can be incorporated into the different workflows used. Till then.
A major problem with the invoice process shown in the previous post is that the materials were ordered by Email without a formal process behind. If the manager does not approve the vendor invoice and the purchase of the goods or services, it is often too late to stop or revoke the delivery and the whole purchase.
To avoid such unpleasant situations, the approval steps can already be executed before the goods or services are ordered from the vendor. The Dynamics AX/365 for Operations instrument that supports those early approvals are purchase requisitions, which allow users specifying what they require before things are ordered from vendors. The next screen print summarizes the different steps and responsible persons involved in the example that will be illustrated in the following.
The sample process starts with the preparation of the purchase requisition by Nicole Holiday.
Thereafter, a group of purchasing agents has been defined that is responsible for reviewing the purchase requisition to ensure that the requisitions are complete and do not include errors.
The next process step consists of an approval of the manager of the cost center for which the materials are ordered.
Once the cost center manager approved the requisition, the goods can be ordered through the creation of a purchase order.
To ensure that the goods or services arrived, a formal receipt process step has been built in.
The process finally ends with the recording of the vendor invoice. Because of the early approvals and provided that there is no difference between the price and quantity ordered and invoiced, the vendor invoice can automatically be posted. If, on the other hand side, a price or quantity variance exists, an additional approval from the cost center manager is required.
Please note that the process steps illustrated above are supported by two different workflows, which can be identified from the next illustration.
The next subchapter details the setups required for the implementation of the sample process steps / workflows. Thereafter, the whole process will be illustrated based on an example.
Process step 1:
The first process/workflow step starts with the creation of a purchase requisition. As the purchase requisition is created manually, no specific setup is required.
Process step 2:
As mentioned above, the second process step consists of a review of the purchase requisition by a group of purchasing employees. This process step is incorporated in Dynamics AX/365 for Operations through the purchase requisition workflow illustrated in the next screen print.
The first workflow step (‘Review purchase requisition’) is thereby implemented through the selection of a ‘participant’ assignment type that is linked to a specific user group. For details, please see the next screen print.
For the sake of this example, Phyllis and Susan have been promoted to purchasing employees and connected to the user group that is responsible for reviewing the purchase requisitions.
Process step 3:
The third process/workflow step requires the cost center managers to approve the purchase requisition.
This workflow step is assigned to the purchase expenditure reviewer group ‘AppREQ’.
Please note that this reviewer group refers to the cost center owners (managers) and consequently requires that a cost center financial dimension is specified with the purchase requisition.
Based on the previously setup workflow steps and the following organizational chart, Nicole Holiday prepares a purchase requisition for a software training on behalf of her colleague Susan Burk.
Because Susan’s employee record is linked to the cost center she works for, the required cost center information is automatically transferred to the purchase requisition. Please note that this transfer is important for the subsequent identification of the approver of the purchase requisition. This is exemplified in the next screen print.
After submitting the purchase requisition, the first review task is assigned to all users that are included in the purchase requisition reviewer group.
If Phyllis decides to take ownership of the task…
… she has to review the requisition and verify that all necessary information have been provided.
Once the review step is completed, the next workflow step is assigned to Kevin Cook, the cost center manager of Susan.
Please note that the cost center that is assigned to the requester and not to the one of the preparer of the purchase requisition determines the cost center manager that is responsible for approving the purchase requisition.
… its status changes to approved, which ends the purchase requisition workflow and allows the creation of a purchase order.
This workflow step concludes this post. The remaining workflow steps are illustrated in the next post. Till then.
This post extends the previous one in a way that a project related expense invoice is recorded, which requires an explicit review of the project manager. To realize this, an additional project manager review step (PM review) is included in the invoice workflow. For details, please see the next illustration.
Please note that the expenditure reviewer group ‘approver’ has been assigned to the PM review step…
… which refers to the project manager as the one that has to review the invoice.
To ensure that the workflow can also handle ordinary vendor invoices, the PM review workflow step is setup with an automatic action that completes the PM review step if no project number is provided. In other words, the PM review step is skipped for ordinary invoices.
For the illustration of the next example, it is important to note that Susan Burk has been assigned as project manager for the project that is addressed in the vendor invoice.
With the project number specified in the invoice, the workflow is consequently assigned to the project manager (Susan Burk) after the orderer (Nicole holiday) has reviewed the invoice in a first step.
If a project number is not specified, the additional review step is skipped and identical to what has been shown in the previous post.
This post ends the section on manually entered expense invoices that need to be reviewed and approved by two or more people.
At this point it can preliminary summarized that the standard Dynamics AX/365 for Operations workflow functionalities appear able to handle a wide variety of expense invoice scenarios. From the author’s perspective, the only thing missing is an overview form that provides more information about the status, the current assignee, etc. of a workflow. That is mainly because the standard workflow history form does – from a finance and accounting perspective – not provide users with sufficient information that can be accessed at a glance.
The next posts will continue this series by showing how to integrate purchase requisitions for expense related invoices, which is also a common scenario in many companies. Till then.
This post builds upon the previous one in a way that Michael Redmond, the account manager, now orders the marketing materials and that the invoice needs to be approved by his line manager Kevin Cook, as exemplified in the following organizational chart.
To realize this, another position hierarchy (LRE Signing 2) has been specified, which includes Kevin Cook as one of the responsible approvers.
This newly setup position hierarchy is then linked to a newly created invoice workflow…
… that is setup in the very same way as the previously used one except for the activation of the workflow, which is based on the condition that employee 000050 (Michael Redmond) is entered in the financial dimension worker field.
After making those modifications, two invoices are recorded. The first one that has Nicole Holiday specified in the financial dimension worker field and a second one that has Martin Redmond specified.
In line with the setup of the position hierarchies and the workers assigned, the correct line managers are always identified as the ones that need to approve those invoices. For details, please have a look at the following screen prints.
From what has been shown in this and the previous post, it can be summarized that the standard application can handle even complex multi-branch signing limit structures even though this requires the setup of separate position hierarchies and invoice workflows.
Another issue that has not been discussed so far is the fact that typically numerous accountants record and initiate the invoice workflow. This results in different workflow originators that are not incorporated into the position hierarchy shown above. To avoid that one has to setup numerous position hierarchies and invoice workflows, one single accountant – in the example Phyllis – can be setup in the position hierarchies. If the very same person is specified as the workflow owner…
…from which the workflow starts, this issue can be overcome.
The next post continues this one by investigating how project related invoices can be incorporated into invoice workflows that make use of signing limits. Till then.
In the previous posts, the responsible for approving the vendor invoice was identified by the approver expenditure reviewer group, which was specified in the approval workflow step. For details, please see the next screen-print.
While the previously used setup allows the identification of a single invoice approver, it does not help much in companies that make use of hierarchical signing limits.
How hierarchical signing limits can be incorporated into the invoice workflow will consequently be investigated in this post.
The next screen prints show the changes that have been made to the workflow setup in order to get the hierarchical signing limits incorporated.
For that purpose, the second workflow step (singing limit based approval) has been changed and does no longer refer to the assignment type participant but rather to the assignment type hierarchy, as exemplified in the next illustration.
A major issue in regards to the selection of a hierarchical assignment is that the hierarchy can either start from the workflow owner – which refers to a ‘static’ user– or to the workflow originator.
Provided that an accountant – who is not included in the managerial hierarchy of the persons involved in the review and approval process – initiates the workflow, i.e. acts as workflow originator, the line manager of the accountant and not the manager of the orderer would get the approval workflow step assigned. To avoid such wrong assignments, a new position hierarchy (LRE signing) is setup, which starts with the accountant (Phyllis Harris) that records the invoice in Dynamics AX/365 for Operations. The following hierarchical levels are determined by the operative management (Benjamin Martin), the executives (Julia Funderburk) and finally the president of the unit (Charlie Carson). For details, please see the next screen print.
This position hierarchy needs then to be associated with the workflow through the associate hierarchy button shown in the next illustration.
Once this is done, the condition for identifying the correct person to approve the invoice can be specified.
The next setup required consists of specifying the signing rules for the different positions respectively levels. The rules used for the following examples are shown in the next figure.
With the modified workflow and the signing limits in place, an invoice for a total of $47500 is recorded in the pending vendor invoice form by Phyllis, the accountant.
To clearly differentiate the workflow from what has been shown in the previous posts, only the orderer (Nicole Holiday) is entered in the financial dimension worker field. A cost center has, however, not been specified.
Irrespective of whether and which cost center is entered, Dynamics AX/365 for Operations finds the correct approver by successively working through the signing limits that have been setup. The next screen print shows the users that are addressed by the workflow for the $47500 invoice.
As one can identify from the previous illustration, Nicole Holiday is the first user addressed by the workflow in order to review the vendor invoice.
Thereafter, Benjamin Martin, Julia Funderburk and Charlie Carson need to approve the invoice before it can be posted. Even though Benjamin Martin and Julia Funderburk do not have a sufficiently large signing limit, they still need to approve the invoice because of the workflow setup.
The successive assignment of the invoice approval can be cut short by defining that only the last user retrieved, that is the one with a sufficiently high signing limit, shall get the task assigned. The next screenshot exemplifies this.
This slight modification in the workflow setup results in a situation where Benjamin Martin and Julia Funderburk are skipped from the approval task for the $47500 invoice, which is directly assigned to the person with the appropriate signing limit (Charlie Carson).
Now let’s modify the example in a way that the materials are ordered by Michael Redmond and need to be approved by his line manger (Kevin Cook).
For that reason, another vendor invoice, this time for $2000 is entered in the vendor invoice workbench. Different from what has been shown before, this time, Michael Redmond – the orderer – is entered in the worker financial dimension field.
After Michael Redmond reviewed the invoice, the invoice approval is assigned to Benjamin Martin and not Kevin Cook, which can be identified from the next screen print.
The underlying reason for this outcome is the position hierarchy that has been assigned to the workflow and which does not include Kevin Cook. For details, see further above.
At this point, one might think to simply add Kevin Cook in the signing position hierarchy. The major problem with this approach is that Dynamics AX/365 for Operations currently only allows a single relationship between the different positions included in the hierarchy. In other words, position hierarchies that include more than a single branch, such as for Kevin Cook (the sales manager) and Benjamin Martin, (the marketing manager) that both report to Julia Funderburk, (the marketing executive), require some additional setups, which will be explained in the next post.
This post extends the previous one in a way that this time a project related expense invoice is recorded and posted. The major difference to the example shown in the previous post is related to the expenditure reviewer setup that needs to be made in a separate project distribution tab, which is illustrated in the next screen print.
Please note that the setup of the ‘orderer’ expenditure reviewer group is made in the same way that has been shown for ordinary expense related invoices in the organization distributions tab.
The setup of the ‘approver’ expenditure group differs from what has been shown in the previous post because the project manager is now defined as the responsible person for approving the vendor invoice. For details, please see the following screen print.
Please note that the sample invoice recorded below is for project no. 000188, which has Kevin Cook assigned as the project manager.
Also note that Kevin Cook is not a line level manager of Nicole Holiday who once again ordered the goods. This can be identified from the next organizational chart.
Against the background of all this information, another expense invoice for advertising materials is recorded in the pending vendor invoice form.
This time, with a project is specified in the project invoice line details tab.
The financial dimensions invoice line tab is filled with the same financial dimension values that have been used in the prior post. That is, Nicole Holiday – the worker who ordered the goods – is recorded in the financial worker dimension field and cost center 008 – that has Benjamin Martin assigned as the cost center owner – is recorded in the financial cost center dimension field.
Because of the project relationship, the respective project manager (Kevin Cook) and not the cost center owner is identified as the one who has to approve the vendor invoice before it can be posted. The next screen print illustrates this.
As the remaining process steps are identical to what has been shown in the previous post, they are skipped here for reasons of brevity.
The next post will build upon this one and illustrate how different signing limits can be incorporated into the vendor invoice workflow. Till then.
Within this second part of the series on vendor invoice recording, we start with a process where a marketing employee (Nicole Holiday) orders some marketing materials via Email.
After the materials have been received by Nicole Holiday, the vendor invoice arrives and is manually entered in the pending vendor invoice form. After recording all invoice related data, the AP clerk initiates the invoice workflow.
Within the first workflow step, the one who ordered the materials (Nicole Holiday) needs to review the invoice and confirm that all ordered materials arrived in good condition.
Thereafter, the cost center manager (Benjamin Martin) needs to approve the expense amount before it can be posted and paid later on.
The next flowchart summarizes the different process steps that will be investigated in more detail from a Dynamics AX/365 for Operations perspective.
The following organizational chart highlights the employees/positions involved in the process in light brown color. Note that this chart will also be used for the subsequent posts on vendor invoice recording.
Based on findings that have been made by other Dynamics AX/365 for Operations experts – please see the following post / video – the invoice approval workflow has been set up in a way that makes use of two different expenditure reviewer groups.
The first expenditure reviewer group – denominated as orderer – thereby makes reference to the financial dimension worker and automatically assigns the workflow work-item task to the worker specified in the financial dimension worker field. For details, please see the following setup.
Getting the invoices correctly assigned to the person who ordered it, requires setting up all employees with their own financial dimension. In addition, each employee must be specified as the owner of this financial dimension because the financial dimension owner defines the person who has to review the vendor invoice. The next screen print shows this setup for Nicole Holiday who ordered the marketing materials.
The second expenditure reviewer group – denominated as approver – references the cost center financial dimension.
The person responsible for approving the invoice is consequently the one that is setup as the owner of the respective cost center. In the example illustrated, this is Benjamin Martin as the head of cost center 008.
The way how the setup is made requires that the expense invoice is entered with the financial dimension worker, which defines the orderer who is responsible for verifying that the ordered materials arrived. In addition, the respective cost center needs to be entered because it determines the manager that is responsible for approving the invoice.
After describing the elements required for the invoice workflow, let’s have a look at the different workflow steps and the overall setup of the sample workflow used in this post, which is illustrated below.
The following two screen prints show the setup of the first workflow step (review invoice) that requires Nicole Holiday reviewing whether all materials have been delivered by the vendor. Please note that Nicole holiday is not directly addressed in the first workflow step but rather the workflow participant ‘orderer’. As the expenditure reviewer group ‘orderer’ links to the financial dimension ‘worker’, the person who ordered the materials needs consequently be entered in the financial dimension worker field at the time the invoice is entered. This will be shown further below.
The second workflow step – the invoice approval step – is also assigned to a workflow participant. This time, the approver, as illustrated in the next screen prints.
With this setup in place, let’s record the expense invoice for the marketing materials. The next illustration shows the vendor invoice recording, which makes use of the ‘advertising’ procurement category that defines the ledger account that will be used for posting the invoice.
Please note that the orderer (Nicole Holiday) is entered in the financial dimension worker field. The person that needs to approve the invoice is determined by the owner of the cost center entered in the cost center financial dimension.
After all invoice details are entered, the workflow process is started by the accountant Phyllis Harris. Based on the workflow setup, Nicole Holiday is the first one that gets a workflow item-task assigned. Please see the next screen print.
If Nicole opens the assigned work item, she can inspect the invoice recorded by the AP clerk. Provided that everything is ok, she can then complete her review task.
If Nicole Holiday rejects the review, the invoice will be returned to the AP clerk who can then clarify with the vendor how to deal with the invoice received. Provided that the invoice is unjustified, the AP clerk has the option to recall the workflow and delete the record from the pending vendor invoice form until a new or corrected invoice from the vendor arrives. Another available workflow action for Nicole is to delegate the workflow task to another user who will then become responsible for finalizing the invoice review workflow step.
Once Nicole has completed her review task, the workflow assigns another work-item to Benjamin who has to approve the amount to be spend.
Benjamin can similarly choose among different workflow actions, such as approve, reject, etc.
In addition to approving the invoice Benjamin Martin has the option to reject the invoice, which returns it to the AP clerk – the workflow originator – who can then decide how to proceed. Delegating the approval step assigns the invoice approval to another user. The same applies to the request change workflow action, which allows specifying a user that has to make some changes – for example to the sales tax – before the invoice workflow can continue.
… and the invoice becomes available for posting.
Provided that all invoice details have already been entered in the first place and against the background that the invoice has been reviewed and approved by two different people, it can be posted automatically from the author’s perspective, which can be realized by including an automatic posting step in the workflow. The next screen print illustrates this.
Posting the vendor invoice ends this second post on vendor invoice recording. The next posts will successively extend the sample invoice workflow process illustrated here. Till then.