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SuiteApprovals SuiteApp (NetSuite 19.2)

Approval flows are an integral part of many business processes and most companies require very specific approval routes based on complex rules. Facing the heavy process of customizing these approval flows on a regular basis within complex workflows in NetSuite, we decided to give the SuiteApprovals SuiteApp a try. Here’s our quick review.

Functionalities

SuiteApprovals allows the user to set up a series of rules depending on their business requirements. First the user will have to select the transaction type, the subsidiary, the period active, and the priority level of the rule. Then the user can choose a currency, the threshold above which the rule is set off, and the routing type. Interestingly enough, the 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 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 why it  was rejected and potentially edit and resubmit it.

Limits

SuiteApprovals offers a lot of interesting features but we also encountered a number of restrictions. Our test revealed four main issues that proved to be obstacles to the process we were trying to implement:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Once saved, the rule is mostly impossible to edit and cannot be deleted if records are associated to it. Only a few fields are available for modification and it is not even possible to deactivate it, which reduces the scalability side of it.

Way forward

Within release 2020.1, the SuiteApprovals SuiteApp will allow the creation of approval rules for requisition records. Additionally, support for cross-subsidiary approval for users will allow now to specify or add approvers from a subsidiary that is different from the subsidiary of an approval rule. So NetSuite will probably continue investing time to improve this SuiteApp throughout the next releases.

Conclusion

Although an interesting tool aimed at simplifying the setup of complex approval workflows during a NetSuite implementation, the SuiteApprovals SuiteApp comes with a handful of restrictions that can actually make the life of the user more difficult in some cases. The App surely can be a big help for smaller businesses with quite straightforward approval flows, but is not adequate for larger entities with a complex structure and specific approval setups.

In short

  • Easy to use
  • Strong custom approval chain
  • Seamless rejection flow
  • Lack of scalability
  • Lack of flexibility

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