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Purchase Order Approval Workflow with Dynamics 365

Workflow Overview

Workflow is a representation of a business process that defines who must complete a task, make a decision, or approve a document. Benefits of using workflows include consistent, to ensure documents are processed and approved in a consistent and efficient manner, processes visibility, which allows for tracking the status and history of a specific workflow.

Fig_1.pngFigure 1: Workflow History

Users can view a centralized work list to view all workflow tasks and approvals assigned to them. In the Dynamics AX client, users can access their work list from the Role Center. In D365 for Operations, users can view their work items on the Dashboard, or through the Common module (Common> Work Items).

Procurement and Sourcing Workflows

Procurement and Sourcing workflows allow for purchase requisitions and purchase orders to be approved by a user other than the person who created the transaction. They provide the ability to track/limit spending, such as requiring approval if an order total is above a set amount. Automatic Actions can be set to automatically complete an action (approve, reject) if a certain condition is set. For example, automatically approve purchase order lines if the net amount is under $50k.

To ensure workflow is enabled when submitting a purchase order two setup steps are required.

    1. Procurement & Sourcing parameters must have “Activate Change Management” functionality turned on.
    2. At least one active Procurement & Sourcing workflow must be set up.

Fig_2.pngFigure 2: Procurement & Sourcing Workflows

Purchase Order Workflow Scenario

For this example we will create a simple Purchase Order Workflow that requires review and approval if the total is $50,000 or more. If the purchase order is less than $50,000 the purchase order will be automatically approved. Purchase Orders that require approval will be routed to a specific user.

To create our workflow we will navigate to Procurement and Sourcing > Setup > Procurement and Sourcing Workflows. Select New > Purchase Order Workflow. When prompted sign in using your organization credentials. The Workflow editor will open.

Please note you may have to complete a onetime download of the workflow editor. Instructions for completing the download can be foundhere.

Workflow Editor

The workflow editor is a graphical user interface (GUI) that you can use to create Dynamics 365 Operations workflows by arranging workflow elements on a design surface. You can add, delete, and reposition elements that represent the tasks and approvals that make up the workflow. You can also add flow-controls, such as manual decisions, automated decisions, and parallel activities. As a result, you can create complex workflows that exactly model the business processes that you want to automate. This TechNet article can be review to understand the foundation of the workflow editor.

Fig_3.pngFigure 3: Workflow Editor

Workflow Properties

To configure the properties of a workflow, open the workflow in the workflow editor. Click the canvas of the workflow editor and then click Properties to open the Properties form. Give the workflow a name such as Purchase Order Workflow. Update the owner if necessary.

Fig_4.pngWorkflow Elements

On the far left side of the workflow editor you will find a list of workflow elements. Dynamics 365 for Operations offers various workflow elements that can be used to create the workflow to match the organizations business process.

Workflow elements for the purchase order workflow include:

  • Approve Purchase Order – Workflow step that allows for approval of the entire Purchase Order
    • The Approve Purchase Order, editable elements offers the same properties as the approval step along with allowing the approver to make changes to the purchase order before approving the purchase order
  • Conditional Decision – Allows for a visible condition and breakout of multiple paths in the workflow
  • Manal Decision – Allows for a visible condition and breakout of multiple paths in the workflow that the user must select from outcomes selected in the workflow
  • Parallel Activity – Allows for Two workflow activities to occur at the same time
  • Sub Workflow – Allows for a workflow to be embedded into this workflow
  • Review Purchase Order – Task the requires workflow activity, but is not recorded as an approval
    • This step is sometimes used by accounting to verify the correct financial dimensions are selected on purchase order lines
    • The Review Purchase Order, editable elements offers the same properties as the review step along with allowing the reviewer to make changes to the purchase order before completing the review

Fig_5.pngFor this workflow we will utilize the Review Purchase Order and Approve Purchase Order workflow elements.

Workflow Creation

To build the workflow start by dragging and dropping workflow elements to create the workflow process.

  1. Click and hold the Review Purchase Order step and drop it under Start
  2. Click and hold the Approve Purchase Order step and drop it under Review
  3. Drag from Start to workflow element to End to connect all steps. Workflow should look like the picture.

You can utilize error pane to recognize additional configurations that are needed to configure the workflow. Errors will be removed as we complete the configuration of the workflow.

Element Properties

Now that we have our workflow elements selected we need to configure additional settings for each element. You’ll notice that the review element has a red x in the upper right corner. This signals that there are additional configurations that need completed. Once all configurations are set the red x will be removed.

Basic Settings

In this tab you can update the name of the element and insert work item subject and instructions. Work item subject and instructions can be viewed by users who submit requisitions for processing.

  1. Click the Review step and then click properties in the ribbon. The properties window will open
  2. Click the Basic setting tab if needed
  3. Update Basic Settings to match screen shot below

Fig_6.pngFigure 6: Properties - Basic Settings


D365 Operations offers multiple assignment types to assign review and approval steps. Options include

    • Participant – allows for Step to be assigned to users that carry specific security role or members of a user group
    • Hierarchy – utilizes the management hierarchy (if configured) to direct workflow from the originator through the management structure
    • Workflow users – allows for assignment to the originator or the owner of the workflow
    • User – allows the workflow step to be assignment to a specific user
    • None – default entry, must be updated to run the workflow (not valid for all workflow elements)
  1. Select the Assignment tab
  2. Select User in the assignment type tab
  3. Select the User tab and use the arrows to select the user that should complete the review
  4. Accept the defaults on the Time Limit tab

Fig_8.pngFigure 8: Properties - User Assignment


Escalations are user Used when a document is overdue (the time allotted for the user to act on the document expires) and the document needs to be assigned to another user for approval. Escalations will not be configured for this workflow.


Automatic Actions

You can configure Dynamics 365 for Operations to automatically act, reject or approve, on the document if specific conditions are met. For our workflow, we want Operations to automatically approve the purchase order if the total amount is less than $50,000.

  1. Close the Accounting Review Properties window.
  2. Select the Approve Purchase Order Step and open the properties window
  3. If desired, select the Basic Setting Tab to updated the Name of the step
  4. Select the Automatic Actions tab
  5. Select the enable automatic actions checkbox
  6. Select Add Condition
  7. Update the condition to match the screenshot below.
  8. In the Auto complete action field select Approve

Fig_9.pngFigure 9: Automatic Approval


Notifications allow alerts or emails to be sent to the recipient when the enabled event occurs on the purchase order. For our workflow we will enable the approve notification to be sent to the workflow originator, the user who submits the purchase order for approval.

  1. Click the Notifications Tab
  2. With the Approve workflow element selected, click the Level Down button
  3. Select Step 1
  4. Click the Basic setting tab if needed
  5. Updated the Work Item Subject and Work tem Instructions

Fig_10.pngFigure 10: Notifications

  1. Select the Assignments Tab
  2. For Assignment Type select User
  3. Click the User tab and select the user that will be responsible for approving the purchase order



Condition are used to specify when the approval step is required. Conditions can be set on the workflow or workflow element. Conditions are not needed for this workflow.

  1. Click on the conditions tab to review the options
  2. Save and Close the workflow. When asked to make the version active select yes.

Submit Purchase Order to workflow

Now that our workflow is created and activated users can begin to submit purchase orders for approval. A user creates a PO with an amount greater than $50,000 and submits the purchase order to workflow. Since the purchase order is less than $50,000 the purchase order will be automatically approved.

Fig_11.pngFigure 11: Submit Purchase Order



When a user is assigned to review and approve the PO. The work items show up in the user’s Work Item list:

Fig_12.pngFigure 12: Work Items List

The user can approve the PO from the Work Item list, or from the PO form.


Figure 13: Complete Review

The Workflow History shows the different workflow activities the PO went through.

Figure 15: Workflow History


Workflow Editor in D365

  1. Workflow editor is now a program that requires a 1-time download.
  2. When you select a workflow to edit, a .NET component downloads and a separate window opens (Microsoft.Dynamics.AX.Framework.Workflow.WorkflowEditorHost).
    1. In rare cases, something might happen with the downloaded application files.
    1. This is easily cleaned up by running a Command Prompt: rundll32 dfshim CleanOnlineAppCache
    2. The next time you click on a workflow, the extension will re-download.



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