Simplifying Approvals and Tasks with GP Workflows

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There has always been at least one way that computer systems trump humans and that’s in the area of memory.  Computers simply don’t forget.  Humans get busy and forget to approve expense reports or purchase requisitions or simply don’t get to them in a timely fashion.   Starting with Dynamics GP 2013 R2 Microsoft is leveraging the relentless memory of computers to help businesses be more efficient through the introduction of out of the box workflow functionality.

If you’ve been a Dynamics GP user for a while, you might remember a previous introduction of “out of the box workflows” for Dynamics GP.  That release relied heavily on Microsoft Sharepoint to control the workflow steps and wasn’t all that easy to implement at the average company.  We aren’t talking about that feature.

Workflows are essentially a set of steps – based on your business rules – that must be followed in order for a business process to be completed.  While the goal of a workflow is normally to control an approval process, sometimes a workflow simply ensures that certain tasks get completed correctly – like in a vendor creation process.  With this new workflow functionality, Microsoft has given us the ability to configure workflows based on different workflow types within Dynamics GP directly.  This functionality does not rely on Sharepoint at all.

The new workflow features first appeared in GP 2013 R2 with the introduction of four workflow types:  Purchase Orders, Purchase Requisitions, Payroll Timecard and Project Timesheet.  The user community quickly realized how helpful these approvals were and how easily the new workflows could be implemented.    It was no surprise, then, that with GP 2015 Microsoft introduced many other workflow approvals:

  • General Ledger Batch
  • Payables Batch
  • Receivables Batch
  • Vendor
  • Project Expense
  • Direct Deposit
  • Employee Skills and Training
  • Employee Profile
  • W4

As much as computers have great memories they also have one major drawback, they aren’t typically on-the-fly flexible the way humans are.  This means that a workflow step will normally be applied even if one of the step participants is on vacation or otherwise not in the office.   Microsoft anticipated this and added several features to GP workflows to accommodate the absence of a required approver.

Each task in a GP workflow is assigned a duration in hours or days.   Unlike computers people do not work 24 hours, seven days a week.  Dynamics GP has accounted for this in the Workflow Calendar.    By setting up a workflow calendar you can specify working hours and non-working days.   Once set up the workflow will use the calendar to calculate when a task is overdue.  The calendar applies to ALL workflows and all users.

dynamics-gp-workflow-calendar

GP workflows also allow for the creation of a user delegation calendar.   Simply add the approver’s away schedule to the workflow and GP will automatically send the approval to the person delegated the responsibility in the User Delegation setup options.

dynamics-gp-workflow-delegation

Additionally, within GP workflows there are four actions you can take if a task is overdue.  In case a step participant is unavailable, I’d focus on two of those options in particular for automatic escalation:  escalate to the next approver or escalate to a specific person.  In order to keep a workflow moving it is important to set up some kind of an escalation process otherwise approvals will be no more efficient when automated within GP than they are when done manually.

dynamics-gp-workflow-maintenance

For the record, as long as an approver has access to their email a workflow needn’t come to a complete stop.  Since a Dynamics GP workflow step can be completed (or approved) from the notification email directly, a lack of access to Dynamics GP should not be an excuse.  In fact, your task participants do not actually need to be set up as full Dynamics GP users at all.

Why is having automatic delegation so important?   It is because GP workflows use an all or nothing approach.  Once a workflow has been assigned to a process it must be completed, every time.   This works well when everyone involved is present.   If someone in the chain is not available, though, the entire approval might grind to a halt if you haven’t built redundancy into the approval process.

by Briware Solutions

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