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Advanced SuiteApp: SuiteApprovals

Approval flows are named an integral part of many business processes, and most companies require very specific approval routes based on complex rules. If you are facing a heavy process to customise this approval flows regularly within complex workflows in NetSuite, you might want to give SuiteApprovals a try.


SuiteApprovals and How It Works

SuiteApprovals is a feature from NetSuite that allows the user to establish a series of rules depending on their business requirements. To start, the user will have to select the transaction type, the subsidiary, the period of active, and the priority level of the rule. Then they can choose a currency, the threshold above which the rule is set off, and the routing type. What makes SuiteApprovals catchier is that App allows the user to choose the purchase limit of the employee as a trigger for the approval process (here in the case of a purchase order).


Should the user choose the custom option for the routing type, the next step will be to define the line of approval by setting up a series of approvers and their approval amount. The app offers the possibility to go through all the approvers or straight to the approver with the right of approval amount. Last interesting feature: the approver can either be a person, a role, or a group; and the user can decide, in the case of a role or a group, if he wants only one approver or all the persons within the group involved to validate the transaction.

Once the rule is set up, the approver can either accept or reject the transaction. In the event of a rejection, they have to enter a rejection reason which then appears in a field on the transaction record. The employee who created the transaction can easily see the reason behind the rejection and potentially edit and resubmit it.


Limits

SuiteApprovals offers a lot of interesting features but we also encountered a number of restrictions. There are four main issues that we believe to be obstacles to the process we were trying to implement:

  • The user can select only one subsidiary, which means that he has to replicate the rules for each entity of the company. The user needs to make sure to select the correct subsidiary before setting up the approval chain otherwise he will lose it and restart from scratch if he changes subsidiaries for the rule.

  • Although the use of a static group as an approver worked just fine, the test with a dynamic group did not provide any result. This is not a huge problem but it needs to be taken into account.

  • The SuiteApp comes with a series of scripts that can bring some problems, like setting approval routes for transactions for which the user doesn’t need approval. He might need to track the superfluous scripts to deactivate them.

  • Once saved, the rule is mostly impossible to edit and cannot be deleted if records are associated with it. Only a few fields are available for modification and it is not even possible to deactivate it, which reduces its scalability side of it.

Enhancement

Within release 2021.2, the SuiteApprovals SuiteApp will allow several enhancements to be done through the feature. The enhancements are listed below:

Project-Based Approvals

With SuiteApprovals version 6.01, you can now perform project-based approvals. When you enable the Projects and Project Management features in your account, project managers can approve project-based records and documents.

  • Addition of Project Manager as an Approver Type – When creating an approval rule with a custom approval chain, you can select Project Manager from the Approver Type dropdown list. You do not need to select a specific project manager under the Approver column of the approval matrix.

When the approval rule is used, the SuiteApp automatically retrieves the name of the approving project manager from the Primary Information section of the project record. The reference project record is the one linked to the document for approval.

  • Supported Record Types for Project-Based Approvals–Project managers can approve purchase orders, expense reports, and vendor bills that are linked to projects.

Project managers can approve documents through the NetSuite UI and by email.

Record Locking and Reapproval

In SuiteApprovals version 7.00, the Approval Rule page and Approval Rule assistant now includes a new section, Set Up Locking and Reapproval. This section includes the following capabilities:

  • Record locking based on approval status–When creating approval rules, you have the following record locking options:

  • Lock records in Pending Approval or Approved status, or both

  • Allow editing of records regardless of approval status

This capability applies to purchase orders, vendor bills, and expense reports.

  • The setting of percentage or amount tolerance limits–You can set tolerance limits to control whether records are rerouted for approval. Tolerance limits affect only pending approval and approved records.

The system reroutes records for approval using the same approval rule if the change in the record amounts exceeds the set percentage or amount tolerance. You also have the option to not allow rerouting regardless of changes in record amounts.

This capability applies to purchase orders, vendor bills, and expense reports.

SuiteApprovals Portlets

SuiteApprovals version 7.00 also includes the following portlets:

  • Records for Approval–Aside from vendor bills, you can now see the number of purchase orders and expense reports for your approval.

  • The portlet lists the records by type and shows how many records you need to approve.

  • The record type name in the portlets links to a page from which you can access the records.

  • SuiteApprovals Reminders–For vendor bills, purchase orders, and expense reports:

  • The portlet lists the pending approval and rejected records per record type for the whole account. Each status links to a page that shows the list of pending approval and rejected records.

  • You can also review aging records awaiting approval and review records that may require reapproval.



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