Orca (03): Purchase Order Approvals Workflow

The Company

Orca Oz Enterprises are an unreal company whose staff bear an uncanny resemblance to the team at Orchid Systems. Orca have found many creative ways of using Orchid’s Sage 300 add-ons to solve everyday business problems. They have kindly agreed to let us publish a series of Case Studies. We call them the Chronicles of Orca.

Picture This

We know a picture is worth a thousand words, so we asked @Jimesey, Junior Freelance Designer at @pa_stek, to draw up a storyboard that illustrates the scenario we've described in more detail below. 

Orca PO Approvals Workflow

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The Challenge

Orca's Governance Committee has published a range of business rules that need to be strictly enforced.

One of these covers Purchase Order (PO) Approvals.

  • Spending limits will be assigned to each employee who is able to initiate POs
  • Initial Approval by the 1-up manager is required for any PO that exceeds the initiator's limit
  • Final Approval by the CFO is required for all POs before the purchase can proceed

Orca's management challenged their Sage Solution Provider to come up with a solution that:

  • Enforces compliance with the above business rule
  • Automates as many process steps as possible
  • Allows approval steps to be completed by staff who are out of the office

The Solution

Orca's solution provider fulfilled their brief using the following products and services, all from Orchid Systems:

  • Extender Workflow capability, included with Orchid Extender
  • Extender Developer, to create a Custom Table holding employee spending limits and manager details
  • Workflow Anywhere, an App providing a made-for-mobile version of the Extender Workflow Console to complement our Remote Action Service product.

Scenario Walkthrough

The office printer has broken down and is too old to repair. After some online searching, Sue has found a suitable replacement, but it’s quite expensive.

  • Sue, Orca's Office Manager, enters a Purchase Order into Sage 300 for the new printer.
  • An Extender Workflow has been configured to place all new POs on hold pending approval.

To determine which approval steps are required, Workflow needs to know if the PO exceeds Sue’s spending limit and, if so, who her manager is.

  • Workflow looks up an Extender Custom Table, which holds spending limit and manager details for all staff authorized to raise POs.
  • This PO value exceeds Sue’s limit, so it will first need to be reviewed and approved by Sue’s 1-up manager, Anne.

Anne is working from home, but is logged in to Sage 300. She has full visibility of all her active tasks via the Extender Workflow Console.

  • Anne sees a new approval task appear on her Workflow Console. She has also been notified of it by email.
  • Drilling down into Sage 300 from the console she sees this is the PO for the new printer. She had already discussed this with Sue, so she had been expecting it.
  • Anne enters a short note about the purchase for the CFO to read, then clicks the Approve button.

CFO Steve has popped out for a coffee. He gets notified of a new approval task via the Workflow Anywhere app on his mobile device.

  • Steve sees that a new PO Approval task has appeared on his Workflow Anywhere app console.
  • He can’t access the Sage 300 PO, but he can read the review comment that Anne entered, so he knows this is for a new printer. That’s good enough for Steve, so he hits the Approve button.
  • Alternatively, Steve could have used a link in his notification email to view and approve using the Remote Action Service.
  • This triggers an email to Sue, the initiator of the PO, advising her that PO has been approved and taken off hold, completing the Workflow.

The Result

Sue is pleasantly surprised to see that the PO has been approved within minutes, even though Anne is working from home and Steve is out of the office.

She forwards the PO to the vendor and sets about making room for the new printer.

Extender Workflow combined with the Workflow Anywhere app means we now have workflow everywhere!

Steve, CFO, Orca Oz Enterprises


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