Overview of Workflow in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Approval workflows is an advanced tool in Dynamics 365 Business Central that helps automate business processes, improve collaboration, and enhance overall user productivity. This blog will explore Business Central’s built-in workflow capabilities, from how it can be created and set up to what happens after it is enabled and utilized.

Creation of Approval Workflows

Before a workflow can be enabled and used, there are various setups that need to be completed. Below is a high-level diagram of the required setup and an explanation of each step.

Those steps are:

  1. Set up the Approval User Setup page and/or Workflow User Group page.
  2. Create a new workflow & modify the workflow steps as needed.
  3. Create and set up the Overdue Approval Requests Workflow.
  4. Enable all created workflows

Approval User Setup and Workflow User Group Setup

Prior to creating a workflow, it is recommended that you first set up the Approval User Setup page and/or the Workflow User Group page if you will have multiple ranked approvers. This setup tells the system how and in what form to direct workflow communications for all users and approvers and will come into play when you need to assign and set up the right response in your workflow creation.

Setting up the Approval User Setup

In the approval user setup page, the following needs to be set up:

  1. Set up an approver and substitute approvers for each user.
  2. Enter email addresses for each user and approver.
  3. Enter approval amount limits if applicable.
  4. Set up how and when workflow-related notifications should be issued (it can be done via email or internal notes).
  5. You can test the approval user setup to ensure there is no error or conflict with the setup.
  6. You can set up who the approval administrator would be (i.e., a user with the right to unblock approval workflows, for example, by delegating approval requests to new substitute approvers and deleting overdue approval requests).
Screenshot of Approval User Setup highlighting User ID, Approval User Setup Test, Notification Setup, Substitute, E-Mail, and Approval Administrator functions.

Setting up the Workflow User Group

If there is a requirement for several individuals to approve, the appropriate approach is to utilize the workflow user group approver type. On the respective page, you can indicate the participant’s involvement in the approval process by assigning a numerical value in the Sequence No. Field. For instance, you can set it up to follow a sequential order, resembling a chain of approvers. Alternatively, you can opt for a flat list of approvers by assigning the same number to each one. In this latter scenario, only one of the approvers needs to approve the request.

Creating and Modifying Workflows

In Business Central, there are several ways in which workflows can be created:

  1. It can be created manually by clicking on the “New” action.
  2. It can be created from Pre-defined Workflow Templates, which allows users to copy and adjust the template as desired.
  3. The Copy Workflow function can be used to make a copy of an existing workflow that is not a workflow template.
  4. The Import from File function can be used to import an existing workflow that has been created in another Business Central database.
Screenshot of workflows function highlighting "New", "New Workflow Template", and "Copy Workflow".Screenshot of workflow page process section, highlighting the import from file function.

With either option, the workflow features can be used to approve administrative and financial documents, sales and purchase documents, items, customers, or vendors, notify users, and integrate workflows.

After a workflow is created, features under the workflow steps can be modified as needed.

Workflow Steps

In Business Central, the workflow steps consist of three different components that entail how different users will perform business processes.

Workflow Event

  • In this step, the approval trigger is selected. This means that the event or action within the system that triggers a response will be selected here.

Workflow Condition

  • The conditions are related to the event and allow the creation of filters to decide how the workflow continues.

Workflow Response

  • The responses specify the next steps in the workflow and how communications will be directed to users and approvers.

Below is an example of a purchase document that shows the workflow steps and the three different components. As explained above, each of these components can be modified to fit a user’s business process.

Screenshot of purchase order approval workflow highlighting the workflow steps.

Creation of the Overdue Approval Request Workflow

To manage overdue approval requests, you will need to remind approval users at regular intervals. To do so, use the Send Overdue Approval Notifications function.

This function can be found by searching “Overdue Approval Requests” and navigating to that page. From there, click on the “Send Overdue Approval Notifications” action. Note that you will need to create and enable the “Overdue Approval Requests Workflow” for this action to work.

The “Send Overdue Approval Notifications” function will check for all overdue open approval requests. Once the notification is actioned, every approver with at least one overdue approval entry will receive a notification listing all their pending approvals that have exceeded the deadline. It will also notify their approver and all the requesters of the overdue approvals. This final step is useful in cases where the overdue approval entry needs to be delegated to a substitute.

Enable Approval Workflows

After approval is created and the events, conditions, response, and approval user setup page are set up, you can enable the workflow and begin using it. However, if you need to edit the workflow, you must disable it before making any modifications.

Other Workflow Information

Power Automate Flows

In addition to the workflow functionality in Business Central, you can integrate Power Automate to further streamline your business processes and define workflows for events happening in Business Central.

Although these are two distinct workflow systems, any flow template you generate using Power Automate will be included in the list of workflow templates available within Business Central.

Review of Workflow Entries

After workflow requests are sent, approvers can choose to Approve, Reject, or Delegate the requests. These requests can be processed on the “Requests to Approve” page, and approvers can approve multiple requests at a time.

Once a user with approval rights has actioned the record request, the approval status will change to reflect whether it has been approved or rejected.

In case an approver hierarchy is set up, the record status will show as pending approval. All requested approvers will be required to approve the record before the record status is changed to released.

For any questions about how to best use workflows in your Business Central environment, please contact us.

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