How to Design and Set Up an Approval Workflow


In the first step, define the who, what, when, why, and where. The following questions may help you design your approval workflow:

  • What documents need to be approved?
  • What key factors could be changed or considered while approving?
  • Who is responsible for approving? Why and when?
  • What factors influence assigning approval responsibility to a particular person: location, department, project, or threshold?

To set up an Approval Workflow, follow these steps:

1. Define the variables that will impact your Precoro Approval Workflow:

  • Location
  • Department
  • Project
  • Threshold.

To make the Custom Field available for selection in the Approval Workflow, you must mark the Available in Approval Workflow checkbox as active. After that, you will be able to set up approval based on Departments, Projects, or other Document Custom Fields:

2. Once done, follow the next steps and add the approval chain:

  • Go to the left side of the menu and choose ConfigurationApproval Workflow.
  • Press Create New Step, enter the name for the step, and select the user and documents you want to set the approval for. 
  • Add as many steps and approvers as you wish, but remember to keep it simple and clear. 

You can add Approval steps at any place within the Approval Workflow:

Please note: Changes made to the existing Approval Workflow will not affect previously approved steps.

Also, please be aware that in documents, the step numbers from the flow are not displayed, only the names of the steps you have entered:

How to Set Up an Approver

To set users as Approvers they must have the corresponding Role for the needed document and make sure you provide a user with access to the needed Locations and Custom Fields. 

Approval Roles, Locations, and Custom Fields can be appointed on the User Management page:

More information on User Roles in Precoro can be found here.

With Direct Manager Approval Functionality

You can multi-select the Document Requsters — users with Create roles for whom the Approver will perform the document approval. This additional option to select the authorized Approvers for particular Creators will simplify your workflow and allow the approval process to be more seamless.

This functionality works as follows:

1. Proceed to ConfigurationsBasic SettingsApprovalDirect Manager Approval and activate this setting for your company.

2. When you edit the existing or add a new Approver to the step, you will see the Document Requester list of users who have Creator roles for the document. By default, the setting All Document Requesters is applied.

You can also quickly identify users by these two sections:

  • Creators Only — here, you will see filtered all the users who have the Create role (with no Approve role) and Create + Approve roles of the selected document, but they are NOT added to the approval workflow of this document.
  • Approvers — here, you will see filtered all the users who have the Create and Approve roles of the selected document, and they are ADDED to the approval workflow of this document.

For both the Creators and Approvers, you will be able to separately activate the All Document Reequesters functionality:

  • If it is activated and a new Creator or Approver of this document type is added to the company. In this step, the Approver will automatically be granted access to this user in the corresponding option.

That means the current step approver will be able to approve the documents for the newly added user.

  • You can activate the All Document Requesters for both the Creator and Approver at the same time, or you can select either Creator or Approver separately to activate this function.

3. Select the needed users from the list, adjust Threshold, Locations, and DCF settings, and save the changes.

The Document Requester works in connection with other settings: Threshold, Locations, and DCF. 

For example, suppose you, as an Approver, selected your coworker as a requester and activated certain DCF options. In that case, you will get to approve documents created by that coworker who used your DCF options in the document.

4. All is set! Now, the added Approver will process documents from the chosen users.

You can also customize limits for the Document Requester field in the Customize threshold settings. To proceed, you need to confirm that you want to customize approval thresholds, and after the confirmation, you will see the edit icons next to the Requester Names. Click on the edit icon, and you will be able to set the custom limit with the help of these filters:

  • Any — no matter what the document total is, you will always approve the documents created by this Requester.
  • Less or Equal — lets you set the minimal and equal thresholds for the document total. So, by selecting Less or Equal 3000, you will be approving only those documents whose total is less or exactly 3000. If the total in the document is 3001, the document will not be sent for your approval.
  • From — lets you set the starting threshold for the document total. So, by selecting From 3000, you will be approving only those documents whose total is greater than 3000. If the total in the document equals 2999, the document will not be sent for your approval.
  • From To — lets you set the threshold for the document total, setting the minimum and maximum amount where your approval for the document will get triggered. For example, by selecting From 3000 To 6000, you will be approving only those documents whose total is greater than 3000 and less than 6000. If the total in the document equals 2999 or 6001, the document will not be sent for your approval.

After setting up the limits, you will also be able to use the Reset Approval Threshold function and make the necessary changes.

Important to Note with Direct Manager Approval:

  • If the creator of the document is changed and it affects the set workflow, reapproval will be triggered.
  • Super User still has the ability to approve documents with direct manager approval.
  • The Parallel Workflow process is working as usual.

You can also use the Document Initiator filtering option that will help you track all Approvers on all the steps who approve documents from the users selected in the filter. There, you can find listed both Creators and Approvers.

Without Direct Manager Approval

Firstly, remember to provide the needed Approval roles to the people who will be responsible for the process.

Every approver can have a set of rules: 

  • Approval Threshold of the document
  • Locations
  • Departments and Projects or any other Documents Custom Fields
  • Custom Approval Thresholds per Location or Department/Project.

Make sure that the user you appoint as Approver has the necessary access to Locations, Items, and Documents Custom Fields to perform document confirmation in User Management and in the Workflow itself.

For example, a user can approve all purchases in the IT department and all purchases up to $500 in the CSM department. To do that, press Customize Threshold

You can add an Approver for multiple approval steps in the Approval Workflow, so one user can be an approver for two or more steps.

What is more, you can set up the documents auto-approval.

This feature will automatically authorize all previous approval steps, including yours if you are the creator and approver of the document.

Note: It activates an auto-approval for all company documents and approvers.

To configure auto-approval:

  • Go to Configuration → Basic Settings → Approval.
  • Activate the Allow Documents Auto-Approval checkbox and click Save.

How to Enable the Mandatory Approval Review If the Workflow Steps Were Omitted

We are improving the Approval Workflow functionality and providing more options to customize and create your preferred workflow. In the Configuration → Basic Settings → Approval, we added a new Enable Approval Review If the Usual Workflow Was Not Applied option that allows you to require approval review from users with Configuration roles if the usual Approval Workflow was not applied. That way, all your documents will always be checked and approved.

When the option is activated, you will see the available conditions to set: Any, Less or equal, From, From To. You can enter the parameters needed for the documents to be sent for approval review there. For example, if the documents under $100 can be approved automatically, you can set the condition From $100. 

The process of approval in that case will look as follows:

1. The document that has not undergone the usual approval flow receives a new Approval Review status and will get to an Approval Review step, where all the administrators and users with required rights will be listed for the review.

2. In the Email Preferences we will automatically activate the Notification about Approval Review. A letter will be sent to those users with the needed roles and DCF/Locations rights, notifying them of the documents requiring a checkup and informing them of possible next steps.

Documents with Approval Review status will also be displayed in the Approval Review infocard (available for company Configurators), allowing you to quickly filter and process them.

Reasons for omitting the approval process could have been the following: 

  • The document’s approval workflow does not cover the selected Document Custom Field options, Location, Requester, or Threshold.
  • There are Document Custom Fields that restrict the Approver’s access to documents and are not added to the approval workflow.

3. The reviewers must analyze why the initial approval was skipped, make all the necessary changes to the document's Approval Workflow, revise the document, send it for revision to the Initiator, or submit it for further approval.

How to Set the Overbudget Approval Step

With this functionality, you can configure an additional approval step that will be triggered if the budget used in a document is exceeded. It is available for the Purchase RequisitionPurchase OrderInvoice, and Expense document approvals.

To activate the feature, go to ConfigurationBasic SettingsApprovalOverbudget Approval.

To see this setting, you must have the activated Budget module for your company.

Also important to note that the setting will be available for activation on the approval step for PRs and Expenses only if you have activated budgets for the specific document in ConfigurationBasic SettingsDocument SetupBudgets:

To set up the Overbudget step:

1. Proceed to Approval Workflow and select the needed type of document.

2. In the Approval settings, you can edit the existing step and activate the Overbudget Approval feature or continue to create a new step (as shown in the video below).

3. To the step with activated Overbudget Approval, you can add the approvers as usual and configure all the necessary accesses for them: DCF, Locations, Document Initiator, and Thresholds.

These approval steps are only triggered when the budget is exceeded. In other cases, these steps are going to be omitted.

If several approvers with the same accesses are involved in a step, you would need approval from at least one of them.

Also, these approval steps can be triggered in parallel with others (if you have set up the parallel process). This approval will only be required if somebody triggers the overbudgeting.

Common Approval Workflow Configuration Case

One of the approvers is the CFO. The CFO can do the following:

  1. Approve all purchases of the Finance department as a first approver.
  2. Approve all purchases of other departments as a last approver if the purchase amount exceeds $10,000.
  3. CFO is assigned to the first and last approval step. 

Someone from the Finance department creates a Purchase Order with a total amount of $15,000. In that case, the CFO has to approve the document twice: as the first approver and the last one.

However, if the CFO is the creator of this Purchase Order, there can be two options:

  • If the document auto-approve is active, the document will be automatically approved on the last step after confirmation.
  • If the document auto-approve is inactive, the first step will be automatically approved after the document confirmation.

In case the CFO should approve the document only once (as the first approver only), we suggest removing the Finance department from his second approval step.

How to Exclude Invoice from PO and PO from PR from Approval

You can activate the two needed options in the Basic Settings → Approval tab:

  • Exclude Invoice from PO from Approval

  • Exclude PO from Purchase Requisitions from Approval.

Please note that to see those settings, your company must have active Invoice, PO, or PR document modules in Precoro.

If the checkbox is active, the corresponding document will never undergo the approval process. Instead, it is immediately Approved after confirmation.

The approval or re-approval process will get triggered:

  • If you have activated the Exclude Invoice from PO from the Approval setting, the re-approval process will not be set off even if changes were made to the Invoice. Instead, the Matching process can be activated. Please see the cases in which you can trigger the Invoice PO matching here.

If the Matching is approved, then no additional Invoice approval is required afterward.

Please note that the Invoices from Blanket Purchase Order per Total and Invoices from the Supplier Portal will always be sent for approval.

  • If you have activated the Exclude PO from Purchase Requisitions from Approval setting: 
    • If there are no differences between the PO and PR, the document will automatically be approved without any approval process.
    • In the PO, a check will be initiated for changes in the Net Total and the number of items in the PO relative to the number of items in the Purchase Requisition. If the Net Total or the number of items in the PO is greater than in PR, the re-approval will always be triggered regardless of the set Tolerance Limit.
    • If a new item is added, the re-approval will be activated.
    • The check will be initiated to determine whether the same options were selected for the Location and the Document Custom Field (involved in the approval) in the PO and the related Purchase Requisition. If the POs were created for several PRs, then we initiate a check that ensures that at least one of these PRs has the same option selected, and in that case, the re-approval will not get activated. But if the options differ and no matches are found — the re-approval gets triggered.
    • If the budget in the Purchase Order is changed, the re-approval will be activated.
    • If the changes were made in the Purchase Order Item Custom Field and that, in turn, triggered budget line change, then the re-approval will be activated. But if you have added various items from different PRs to a PO, then we initiate a check that ensures that at least in one of these items, the required budget line is selected, and in that case, the re-approval will not get activated.

How to Update the Existing Approval Workflow

You can edit and make updates in the existing Approval Workflow, to learn more, please consult this article.

How to Delete a User from an Approval Workflow

To remove somebody from the Approval Workflow please consider the following article, where you can find two ways of user removal:

How to Check Revision History in the Approval Workflow

You can see and compare the changes made in the Approval Workflow using the Revision History button.

This function is available for all Approval Workflow documents in all the steps.

To utilize this function:

1. Click the Revision History button at the Approval step to see the changes made.

2. Select the two revisions for comparison and click the Compare Revisions button below.

3. Press the Show Changes Only button to see what alterations were made.

You can also check the last date update in the top right corner of the Approver card:

How to Build a Parallel Approval Workflow

Please read this article, which will provide you with additional helpful insights on parallel workflows in Precoro.