Purchasing Approval is an optional feature in the AIQ system that can be set up per entity. Both Purchase Orders and Purchase Invoices can undergo the approval process.
Approval can come from:
- Non-Budget Holders: These are linked to Suppliers (Vendors) in the Supplier (Vendor) Master Record. The initial Approver (if any) will come from the Master Record when you prepare a new Order or Invoice. Unlike Budget Holders, non-budget Holders allow for the use of multiple BI Codes.
- Budget Holders: These are linked to Budget Heads via the use of BI Codes. The initial Approver depends on the BI Code nominated with the Order or Invoice. You can override the Approver at Order or Invoice processing stage by nominating a different Approver. Although Approvers do not have to be users of the system, we recommend that Budget Holders are.
- Requesters (Requisitioners): These are usually non-system users, such as field operatives, who raise Purchase Orders. They can communicate with the system via email, to receive order status updates throughout the approval process. You can also nominate Budget Holders as Requesters (Requisitioners).
Decide initially whether to base your Approvers on Budget Holders or non-Budget Holders. You can change this later if necessary. One of the principal benefits of selecting Budget Holders as Approvers is that you can examine current commitments against each Budget Head, giving you greater control of your expenditure on a rolling basis. This could be in terms of expenditure to date, existing orders in the pipeline, or the amount of unspent budget remaining.
Approver authorisation type
There are two types of approver authorisation types:
- Purchasing Approvers: They are authorised to approve Purchase Orders and Invoices on behalf of the company. They can be Budget or Non–Budget Holders, depending on whether you want to use Budget Holders and Commitment Reporting.
- Payment Approvers: They are authorised to approve Supplier Payments.
Excluding or requiring approval from Suppliers (Vendors)
You can do this from two locations in the system.
Option One: From the Purchases/Vendors grid
- Go to Purchases/Vendors > New Supplier/Vendor.
- Under the Account Settings tab, tick either:
- Order Required: Tick to enforce the entry of Purchase Orders against the selected Supplier (Vendor). This ensures that Invoices from that Supplier (Vendor) cannot be processed without a prior Order. The Invoice will then undergo an Invoice/Order Matching process. If the Invoice exactly matches the Order in respect of all Lines, Quantities, and Prices, then the Invoice bypasses Invoice Approval.
- Exclude from Approval: Tick to automatically approve purchases from this Supplier (Vendor). Even if you implement Purchase Approval, not all Orders/Invoices require Approval. You can exempt certain Suppliers (Vendors) associated with ongoing expenses like electricity, water, or rent and others associated with small Items, such as stationery, or refreshments.
Option Two: From the blue banner
Go to Setup > Default Settings > Supplier/Vendor Defaults to set parameters as above.
Batch Invoicing and the Approval Process
Purchase Invoices entered via Batch Invoicing do not undergo Invoice Approval and post directly to the Supplier (Vendor) Account as normal. You can use batch processing for small Invoices amounts, or Invoices which do not require approval. However, this is a security risk that might defeat the purpose of implementing Invoice Approval in the first place. If you want all your Purchase Invoices to undergo the approval process, then remove (or severely restrict) the Batch Invoicing option. Doing so requires all Invoices processed to use Item Invoices.
Enabling the Approval Processes
Step One: Set the appropriate administration permissions.
- In the Group Portal, find the relevant entity.
- Under Actions, select Maintain Menu Profiles.
- In the User Profile Management screen, under Approval, tick Purchase Approval Setup against the relevant users.
- Click Process.
- Repeat for all relevant entities.
Step two: Customise the approval settings.
Access to the Approval Settings tab should be restricted to System Administrators. This avoids changes that could exclude Orders and Invoices from the approval process.
- Go to Setup > Company Details & Settings.
- In the Approval Settings tab set the following:
- Purchase Approval Enabled/Payment Approval: Tick to implement Purchasing Approval either by non-Budget Holders (linked to Suppliers) or Budget Holders.
- Manual Approver Nomination Enabled: Tick to nominate your own Approvers for both Orders and Invoices. This will allow you to override the system-derived approver and nominate your own approver at Order or Invoice completion. This nominated Approver must have the same or higher financial authority as the system-derived approver. We recommend keeping this enabled at first and disabling it later if required.
- No approval required for orders/invoices up to: Enter an amount up to which Order and Invoice approval will automatically be bypassed.
- No re-approval required for orders/invoices up to: Enter an amount to prevent the Orders and Invoices from going for reapproval over small increases.
- Include 3rd party orders/invoices in approval: Third-party Invoices may originate from external sources such as OCR Scanning or other integrations such as EPOS. Tick to have these Invoices go through the Approval process.
- Batch Approval Enabled: You must also tick Purchase Approval Enabled if you want to enable batch approval.
Step three: Enforce/Exclude Orders as a prerequisite to invoicing
You can enforce Orders as a pre-requisite to Invoicing and/or exclude certain Suppliers (Vendors) from the Approval process (see Introduction). These companywide rules will only take effect for new Suppliers and will not have a retrospective effect on existing Suppliers (Vendors). You can reset these rules at individual Supplier (Vendor) level if necessary.
- Go to Setup > Company Details & Settings > Supplier Details.
- In Supplier Defaults you can set companywide rules for Orders. Tick Order Required, and/or Exclude From Approval.
- Click Process.
Creating/Adding Approvers and Requesters
Setting up Approvers
You must have the appropriate access permissions in your Menu Profile to set up and maintain approvers.
- Go to Approver Setup > Purchase Approvers > New Purchase Approver to open the Purchase Approver window.
- Enter the name of an Approver. The rest of their details will fill-in automatically.
- You can untick Notify by Email if the user has direct access to the Purchasing System. If they are a non-system user, you must enter their name and email address and tick Notify by Email
- Tick This approver can approve any amount or enter an Approval Limit. Approval is based on the Nett Value of the Order or Invoice before any Tax calculations. Approvers operate in a hierarchy of financial approval authority. All hierarchies must contain a No Limit approver to complete the hierarchy.
If this example, James Smith is the default Approver. As the Order or Invoice exceeds his approval limit of 200.00, then the Approver next-in-line will replace him if they have a greater financial approval level. The Approver doesn’t necessarily have to be the immediate next-in-line (Gerry James). It could be either of the No Limit approvers.
In this example, the Route To When Limit Exceeded is redundant, as the system will examine all the Approvers against a Budget Head to find the one with the appropriate financial authority to become the Budget Holder Approver for the Order or Invoice.
Setting up requesters
You can also set up Requisitioners (Requesters). These are the originators of the Order request and eventual recipients of the goods. Usually, they do not have access to the system but can communicate via email. They receive order status updates throughout the approval process until Delivery and Invoicing. Anybody in the organisation can be a requester.
- Go to Setup > Codes Maintenance > Requesters to open the Add Requesters window.
- To add a Requester, Click Add New Requester.
To modify the details of an existing Requester, click Edit.
- Click Save. The Requester (Requisitioner) is now an optional field on the Order Entry screen.
Editing Purchasing Approvers
Editing Purchase Approver Budget Areas
- Go to Approver Setup > Budget Area.
The grid displays a complete list of all the BI Codes which have been set up in the system.
In this example, the BI Code represents a Cost Centre. The Complete column shows that some of the Cost Centres are Incomplete.
Being marked Incomplete can result from:
- Not having any Budget Holder Approvers.
- Lacking a No Limit budget holder.
- Go to Actions and select Manage against a particular BI Code to open the Budget Area screen.
- Next, you can connect the Approvers to the BI Codes (Budget Heads). These BI Codes will identify them as Budget Holders as well as Approvers.
You can opt to have:
- One No Limit Budget Holder against a BI Code (in this example called Cost Centre).
- Several Budget Holders, with varying financial limits, assigned to a single BI Code.
- A single Budget Holder assigned to several BI Codes.
Click any of the Approvers on the left-hand side to assign them to this BI Code as a Budget Holder Approver. Click multiple if you want Approvers (budget holders) with varying financial authorisation. Click any of the entries on the right-hand side to remove Budget Holder Approvers from the BI Code.
In the example, there was a missing No Limit Approver, rectified by clicking Joe Bloggs or any of the other No Limit Approvers.
- Click Save.
Editing Purchasing Approver details
- Go to Approver Setup > Purchase Approvers.
- Go to Actions and select Edit.
The Order Approval Process for Budget Holders
With Budget Holders an Order can only have one BI Code but as many Items and GL Codes as you want. This prevents you from needing multiple Approvers at different times for a single order.
Setting a default BI Code for a Supplier (Vendor)
- Go to Purchases/Vendors > New Supplier/Vendor.
- Under the Account Settings tab, you can set up a default BI Code at the Supplier (Vendor) level if you think that this supplier is only going to supply orders to that single source. Otherwise, leave it blank and the BI Code can be entered later during Order Entry.
- Click Save.
Completing a Purchase Order
- Go to Purchases > Orders and open the order.
- On the Order, enter the BI Code (if not inherited from the Supplier (Vendor)). Each Line automatically inherits the BI Code from the Header. If you have set up several Budget Holders with varying financial authority, the system will decide which Budget Holder should be the Approver based on the total value of the Order.
- Click Save.
- If the Exclude from Approval is set to off, the Requester (if any) will receive an email from the system or the currently logged-in User.
- The Requester can now appraise the Purchase Order and send a return email describing any modifications required. As stated in the email, any changes which result in a new quantity or new value will restart the Approval process.
- The Approver will also receive an email asking to approve or reject the order. As with the Requisitioner, a pro-forma copy of the Order and its details is included.
Approval Status: Committed and Actual
The meaning of Committed, for each separate Budget Head, in Base Currency, at any point in time, is as follows:
The sum-total of Un-invoiced Approved Order Lines Net Value [Net Price * Un-invoiced Quantity (Order Quantity less Invoiced Quantity)] that is either delivered or undelivered in the system
The sum-total of U-posted Approved Invoice Lines Net Value [Net Price * Invoiced Quantity] currently in the system
The sum-total of Un-Posted Supplier (Vendor) Credit Note Lines Value [Net Price * Credit Note Quantity] currently in the system.
An order moves out of Committed into Actual status when the Invoice it is associated with is posted, not just when the invoice is processed and awaiting posting. Similarly, an Invoice that is not associated with an order, and Supplier (Vendor) Credit Notes move out of committed status and into actual only when posted.
- In this example, the Budget Holder is already in trouble with a couple of Budget Heads, so responds by clicking Reject in the email, entering a note on the screen, and clicking Reject.
- You can view Notes attached by an Approver by going to Purchases > Orders and clicking the note icon.
- Requisitioners also receive notification so that they can prepare a new Order for submission.
- If the Approver clicks Approve with Note in the email, they can enter a note on the screen before clicking Approve.
- Go to Purchases > Orders. Orders appear as approved in the Orders Grid and await subsequent receipt of the Goods from the Supplier (Vendor). To view any attached Notes, click the Note icon.
- The Requester (if any) receives an email notification that the Order has been approved.
Approval Process without Email notification
If the Approver is a System User and Notify by Email is set to off, then the approval process is as follows:
- Go to Purchases > Orders and find the entry.
- In the grid, go to the Approval Status column:
- Pending Approval: This usually means that an email has been sent to the Approver,
- Pending your Approval: This refers to a System Approver who will use the Actions dropdown to affect the next step.
- Pending: This means the order has not been approved. Under Actions, select Re-Submit for Approval.
- Go to the Print dropdown and select PDF to get a copy of the Order or Invoice. It will be labelled *Order Not Approved*.
- Click the Email icon against the Order you want to send to the Supplier (Vendor). This opens the Report Emailing window.
- Enter the email address if it’s not already in the Supplier (Vendor) Master Record. Complete the email and click Send Message.
Resubmitting Orders and Invoices for Approval
You can resubmit Orders and Invoices for Approval after making the appropriate amendments by clicking Re-submit for Approval at the bottom of the Order, or in Purchases > Orders, under Actions.
Absent Approvers or Requistioners
If the Budget Holder becomes unavailable for an extended period, then assign another Approver, in Budget Areas to all the Budget Heads. Re-submit each individual Order or Invoice for re-approval. The new Budget holder will receive any subsequent Emails.
If one of your Requisitioners is absent for a period, you can, replace them with someone else on any of the outstanding Orders or Invoices and re-submit them for approval.
The Invoice Approval Process for Un-Ordered Goods and Services
This example deals with Invoices that arrive for which there is no Order but require Invoice approval.
This will apply:
- If Invoices that have Exclude from Approval and Order Required are set to off in the Supplier (Vendor) Master Record.
- Equally to Purchase Debit Notes (Supplier (Vendor) Credit Notes).
This will not apply:
- If the Invoice is below the threshold set in the Approval Settings tab of the Company Details & Settings.
- If the Invoice is a third-party Invoice arising from external systems and Include 3rd party orders/invoices in approval is set to off.
- If Order Required is set to on, then you cannot enter an Invoice until you enter an Order. Instead, you will receive a message.
The approval process
- Follow the same procedures as you would for Order Entry. The Requisitioner field is not necessary in this instance.
- Enter the Invoice details.
- Click Save.
- The same rules apply regarding the financial hierarchy of Approvers, and an Email will be sent to the Approver. Approved Invoices are then ready for posting.
The Combined Order and Invoice Approval Process
The following procedures apply when the Order and the Invoice are both required to undergo approval.
An Invoice will only undergo the following process if there is an Order in the system which has or awaits approval and Exclude from Approval is set to off in the Suppliers (Vendors) Master Record.
There are a couple of exceptions. Orders will not require approval:
- If the Order is less than the minimum stated on the Approvals Parameter Settings.
- If the Invoice value is also less than the minimum stated on the Approvals Parameter settings.
- If the increase in value of the Invoice over the Order is less than the amount allowed on the Approval Parameter settings, meaning re-approval is unnecessary.
The Approval Process
- Enter the Order as described previously and process it to the stage of Approved.
- You cannot receive the goods until the Order is Approved. Click on Receive to receive the Goods (full or partial) that are in good condition.
- In Purchase Deliveries, you can amend the Quantities received. This might be more or less than ordered or click Receive All.
- Go to Purchases > Deliveries. The Order now appears in the grid, where you can Invoice it under Actions.
In this example, because the Invoice exactly matched the Order in both Quantities and Values, the Invoice is approved. If the value increased by more than that allowed in the Approval Settings, then the Invoice Approval process would start over.
When Invoices differ from Orders
The physical Invoice received from the Supplier (Vendor) can differ from the Order, in Quantity (excluding partial deliveries discussed below) or Value.
If so, during the Invoicing process, you can amend the price to match the Supplier (Vendor) Invoice by double-clicking on the field. You can also add lines for other services such as Transport. However, you cannot amend the Quantity.
If the Value increase is greater than that specified in the Approval Settings, the amended Invoice will go for re-approval.
If there is a Quantity difference between the Supplier (Vendor) Invoice and what was received in good condition (what the GRN shows) then you must get a new modified Invoice from the Supplier before progressing with this delivery.
Example: Multiple Deliveries and Invoices against a single approved order
In this next example, there are multiple Deliveries and Invoices against a single approved order.
Step One: Receive the order
- Enter the multi-line Order and process it through to the Approval stage.
- Receive two of the Items on Line 1 of the Order.
- Click Save.
Step two: Processing the Invoice
- Go to Purchases > Deliveries.
- In the Deliveries grid, click Invoice against the relevant delivery.
- In the Purchase Deliveries screen, you can process an Invoice, when it arrives or first receive other shipments. In the This Delivery column, enter the appropriate number of items for invoicing and click Save.
In this example, two of the Line Items ordered out of four were received. If there is a delay on the remainder of the goods, the Supplier (Vendor) might decide to Invoice you for your deliveries to date.
Alternatively, receive items from multiple lines to create a combined Invoice. If you receive further shipments, they will also be added to the combined delivery. Click Save.
- Go to Purchases > Item Invoices. As the Invoice agreed with the Order in both Value and Quantity, the Invoice has not gone for Approval. Instead, it appears in the grid awaiting posting. Click the Notes icon for further details about the Invoice.
Manually Nominating an Approver
If you ticked Manual Approver Nomination Enabled in Approval Settings, you must nominate an approver. You will be asked after clicking Save on an Order or Invoice.
Choose your Approver from the dropdown (or not) and click Submit for Approval.
This new approver will now replace the system-derived approver for this Order/Invoice before starting the approval process described previously.
Budget Holder Reporting and Dashboards
There are two Reports provided with the Budget Holder Approval process.
Budget Holder Approvers
This report shows a list of the Budget Holder Approvers, the BI Codes for which they are a nominated approver, and the Orders and Invoices awaiting progress.
Status of Expenditure
This report shows the status of expenditure against a variety of General Ledger and BI Codes, detailing Actual Expenditure To Date, Commitments, Budgets, and Amounts available for further expenditure.
The Dashboard provides a high-level view of actual and committed expenditure versus budget year to date. This is a visual of the overall committed and actual spend relative to the budget, whether there is under or overspending in a particular area/period, and the overall trend.
You can drill down further in the dashboard by choosing a particular cost centre and then the monthly position. The dashboard also provides a breakdown of the Purchase Orders and Invoices related to the expenditure and contains a summary of the expenditure by approver by BI Code.