Walkthrough: Setting Up and Using a Purchase Approval Workflow

You can automate the process of approving new or changed records, such as documents, journal lines, and customer cards, by creating workflows with steps for the approvals in question.

Before you create approval workflows, you must set up an approver and substitute approver for each approval user. You can also set approvers' amount limits to define which sales and purchase records they're qualified to approve. Approval requests and other notifications can be sent as email or internal note. For each approval user setup, you can also set up when they receive notifications.

Note

In addition to the Workflow functionality within Business Central, you can use Power Automate to define workflows for events in Business Central. Note that although they are two separate workflow systems, any flow template that you create with Power Automate is added to the list of workflow templates within Business Central. For more information, see Use Business Central in an Automated Workflow.

You can set up and use workflows that connect business-process tasks performed by different users. System tasks, such as automatic posting, can be included as steps in workflows, preceded or followed by user tasks. Requesting and granting approval to create new records are typical workflow steps. For more information, see Workflow.

About this walkthrough

This walkthrough illustrates the following tasks:

  • Setting up approval users
  • Setting up notifications for approval users
  • Modifying and enabling an approval workflow
  • Requesting approval of a purchase order, as Alicia
  • Receiving a notification and then approving the request, as Sean

Story

Sean is a super user at CRONUS. He creates two approval users. One is Alicia who represents a purchasing agent. The other is himself representing Alicia's approver. Sean then gives himself unlimited purchase approval rights and specifies that he'll receive notifications by internal note as soon as a relevant event occurs. Last, Sean creates the required approval workflow as a copy of the existing Purchase Order Approval Workflow template, leaves all existing event conditions and response options unchanged, and then enables the workflow.

To test the approval workflow, Sean first signs in to Business Central as Alicia, and then requests approval of a purchase order. Sean then signs in as himself, sees the note on his Role Centre, follows the link to the approval request for the purchase order, and approves the request.

Users

Before you can set up approval users and their notification method, you must make sure that two users exist in Business Central: One user will represent Alicia. The other user, yourself, will represent Sean. For more information, see Create Users According to Licences.

Setting up approval users

When signed in as yourself, set up Alicia as an approval user whose approver is yourself. Set up your approval rights and specify how and when you're notified of approval requests.

To set up yourself and Alicia as approval users

  1. Choose the Lightbulb that opens the Tell Me feature. icon, enter Approval User Setup, and then choose the related link.

  2. On the Approval User Setup page, choose the New action.

    Note

    You must set up an approver before you can set up users who require that approver's approval. Therefore, you must set up yourself before you set up Alicia.

  3. Set up the two approval users by filling the fields as described in the following table.

    User ID Approver ID Unlimited Purchase Approval
    YOU Selected
    ALICIA YOU

Setting up notifications

In this walkthrough, the user is notified by an internal note about requests to approve. Approval notifications can also be sent by email, and you can add a workflow response step that notifies the sender when a request is approved or rejected. For more information, see Specify When and How to Receive Notifications.

To set up how and when you are notified

  1. On the Approval User Setup page, select the line for yourself, and then choose the Notification Setup action.
  2. On the Notification Setup page, in the Notification Type field, choose Approval.
  3. In the Notification Method field, choose Note.
  4. On the Notification Setup page, choose the Notification Schedule action.
  5. On the Notification Schedule page, in the Recurrence field, select Instantly.

Creating the approval workflow

Create the purchase order approval workflow by copying the steps from the Purchase Order Approval Workflow template. Leave the existing workflow steps unchanged, and then enable the workflow.

Tip

Optionally, add a workflow response step to notify the sender when their request is approved or rejected. For more information, see Specify When and How to Receive Notifications.

To create and enable a purchase order approval workflow

  1. Choose the Lightbulb that opens the Tell Me feature. icon, enter Workflows, and then choose the related link.

  2. On the Workflows page, select Actions, then select New, and then choose the New Workflow from Template action.

  3. On the Workflow Templates page, select the workflow template named Purchase Order Approval Workflow.

    The Workflow page opens for a new workflow containing all the information of the selected template. The value in the Code field is extended with -01 to indicate that this is the first workflow that is created from the Purchase Order Approval Workflow template.

  4. On the header of the Workflow page, turn on the Enabled toggle.

Use the approval workflow

Use the new Purchase Order Approval Workflow by first signing in to Business Central as Alicia to request approval of a purchase order. Then sign in as yourself, view the note on the Role Centre, follow the link to the approval request, and then approve the request.

To request approval of a purchase order, as Alicia

  1. Sign in as Alicia.
  2. Choose the Lightbulb that opens the Tell Me feature. icon, enter Purchase Orders, and then choose the related link.
  3. Select the line to open Purchase Order 106001.
  4. On the Purchase Order page, choose Actions, then Request Approval, and then choose the Send Approval Request action.

Notice that the value in the Status field has changed to Pending Approval.

To approve the purchase order, as Sean

  1. Sign in as Sean.
  2. On the Role Centre, in the Self Service area, choose the Requests to Approve tile.
  3. On the Requests to Approve page, select the line about the purchase order by Alicia, and then choose the Approve action.

The value in the Status field on Alicia's purchase order changes to Released.

You have now set up and tested a simple approval workflow based on the first two steps of the Purchase Order Approval Workflow. You can easily extend this workflow to automatically post Alicia's purchase order when Sean approves it. To do this, you must enable the Purchase Invoice Workflow, in which the response to a released purchase invoice is to post it. First you must change the event condition on the first workflow step from (purchase) Invoice to Order.

The generic version of Business Central includes many workflow templates for scenarios that are supported by the application code. Most of these templates are for approval workflows.

You define variations of workflows by filling fields on workflow lines from fixed lists of event and response values representing scenarios that are supported by the application code. For more information, see Create Workflows.

Note

If a business scenario requires a workflow event or response that is not supported in the default version, sign up for Power Automate. For more information, see Use Business Central in Power Automate Flows. Alternatively, get an app at AppSource or work with a Microsoft partner to customise the application code.

See also

Set Up Approval Users
Setting Up Workflow Notifications
Create Workflows
Use Approval Workflows
Workflow
Use Business Central in an Automated Workflow