Video: Intelligent NetSuite Transaction Approval Routing

The article is relevant if you are looking for a way to allow business users to submit transaction requests (e.g., Purchase Orders, Vendor Bills, Journal Entries) in NetSuite and you would like the transactions to be approved via a lookup routing table while at the same you want to drive a flexible NetSuite license model.


A public company client came to us recently looking for a specialized way to automate the Purchase Order and Vendor Bill management within their Accounts Payable function. Before we were scheduled to meet, I contemplated the number of “one off” client solutions we have previously built which effectively leveraged worfkflows and simple custom fields to get the job done. This client has concerns for SOX compliance and high degrees of control and operational accountability. As I listened to their requirements, I quickly realized that the built-in NetSuite offerings were not going to be sufficient. I knew this one was significantly different and that I was going to need to apply new thinking to come up with a fresh approach which would scale with their growing organization. It was time to move away from the “just get it done” one-off solution.

Key Transaction Approval Request Requirements

Here were the key requirements:

  1. Subsidiary Approval Rules: Ability to define different approval rules for each subsidiary. Some subsidiaries shared the same rules however.
  2. Tiered Approval Thresholds: Ability to define value ranges representing a tiered structure to qualify transactions.
  3. Flexible Signatures: Multiple signature routing with managers holding one or more roles with backup user support.
  4. Requestor vs Owner: Ability to have administrative assistants input transaction requests on behalf of the actual business owner.
  5. Revision Capacity: Ability to modify a transaction request before and after an approval and keep track of the revisions for audit and control.
  6. Vendor Bill Routing: Ability to route Vendor Bills for business owner approval even if the bill is not connected to Purchase Order originated in the application.
  7. Native Integration: Work with NetSuite’s native Purchase Order and Vendor Bills allowing the Finance Department generalized management control.
  8. Flexible Use Model: Leveraging Suitelet’s to drive the exact user experience, take advantage of NetSuite’s capacity for role and authorization.

NetSuite’s native Purchase Request concept offered in the Employee Center would need significant enhancement to meet these requirements. As such, we elected to use a full SuiteLet approach with supporting custom record structures to drive the application.

Introducing “Transaction Approval Requests”

As I studied the requirements and considered the pattern, it became clear that there is a general need to intelligently route transactions within an organization for various approvals. This is not new. But NetSuite’s general workflow and “Approval Flag” is insufficient to handle multiple signature routing. As such, I worked with one of our senior consultants to build the application in a general fashion so that it could be effectively used on any NetSuite transaction. The key to solving the challenge was to generalize the approval rules and then to build a SuiteLet layer on top of conventional transactions to get fine-grained control over the user experience.

Application Demonstration

Like all the software we collectively create for our clients, the Prolecto Transaction Approval Requests application (bundle ID: 153147)  is available without license charge. Naturally, we assist our clients in innovations and implementations which is why we are recognized for producing very high project success rates. Here, you can get a good feel for the application with this short video demonstration series. While you can watch them in any order, each one builds on the next.

Approval Rule Definitions

In this Video (05:34) you can see how you can define approval rules and their connection to user-defined roles. These structures are the back bone of application.

The Transaction Editor

In this video(06:10) you can see how we allow the creation of the Purchase Order (transaction) and where we leverage saved search to drive all lookups giving control to the business as their rules evolve. By using a SuiteLet, we are free to drive the user experience feeding common transaction header and detail data to the framework.

Transaction Approval Routing

In this video (07:39) you can see how the application attaches transaction approval lines when then is used to properly sequence the route with supporting email notifications.

Post Approval Transaction Revisions

In this video(04:03) you can see how a transaction may be edited after it has been approved triggering revisions and rule evaluations.

Vendor Bill Authorization

In this video (01:15) you can see that an existing Vendor Bill can easily be routed by the application giving the Finance group freedom to record bills immediately, put them on payment hold to recognize a liability and then route the transaction to the business owner to determine if they are satisfied with the actual goods and services delivery. Once approved via the application, a Vendor Bill can then safely be taken off payment hold.

NetSuite Application Innovation

This application is a great example of how we work closely with our clients to leverage the NetSuite platform to help their organizations drive more revenue, lower operating costs and ultimately increase profit. Perhaps this application is for you. If you have similar business processing requirements and would like to work with a team that understands how to exploit the full power of the NetSuite platform, let’s have a conversation.

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Marty Zigman

Holding all three official certifications, Marty is Southern California's NetSuite expert and leads a team of senior professionals at Prolecto Resources, Inc. He is a former Deloitte & Touche CPA and has held CTO roles. For over 25 years, Marty has produced leadership in ERP, CRM and eCommerce business systems. Contact Marty to set up a conversation.

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