Complicated Approval Workflow Question

I need some help with writing what I feel is a complicated approval workflow. Currently, we have a CapEx approval process that is done in Excel and requires approval from a Manager, Director, VP, and VP of Finance. If the CapEx is greater than $50K our President needs to sign off and then it needs to go back to the VP of finance for another approval. I feel like this process can be automated within Smartsheets.

That said, we have different reporting structures and I just can't get the workflow to work correctly.

The different reporting structures that we have are as follows:

Scenario 1:

Submitter of the CapEx Reports to a Manager who needs to approve.

It then goes to that managers Director to approve

After that director approves it goes to the VP of the Department for approval

Then it goes to the VP of Finance for approval (who approves all CapEx's)

Scenario 2:

Submitter of the CapEx Reports directly to a director who needs to approve.

After the director approves it goes to the VP of the Department for approval

Then it goes to the VP of Finance for approval (who approves all CapEx's)

Scenario 3:

Submitter of the CapEx Reports to a Manager who needs to approve.

It then goes to that managers Director to approve

Who reports directly to the VP of Finance (who approves all CapEx's).

As mentioned above. if any of the scenario's laid out above are over $50K then the President of the company needs to approve and it then needs to circle back to the VP of Finance for final approval.

I would also like to get all the the approvals to show up in the respective columns for the Manager, Director, VP of the Department, and VP of Finance without having to create multiple columns. Can this be accomplished and if so, how?

I'm sure that I am making this more complicated then it needs to be so I welcome any help / suggestions.

Best Answer

  • Genevieve P.
    Genevieve P. Employee Admin
    Answer ✓

    Hi Anthony,

    Thank you for providing the screen captures - this makes more sense now. Yes, for my suggestion you would have three different forms going to three different sheets. Instead, you could keep it as one form into an overall intake sheet, and then use the Copy Row workflow to copy over the information to a new sheet specific for that workflow... however to do this you would need to have some sort of indicator for which version of the workflow the submitter belongs to.

    Then again, if you were going to build in a way to indicate which scenario the submitter belongs to, you could then just use that as the trigger for each different type of workflow and maintain one sheet.


    For example... could you have a Reference Sheet built, that categorizes each individual with their type of department/submission? It could be as simple as two columns: the user's contact in one column and their type of department (Scenario 1, 2, or 3) in the other column.

    Then you could have a cross-sheet INDEX(MATCH formula in a helper column on your main sheet that looks to see which scenario this submitter belongs to. When a new submission is made, It will update the Scenario status in this intake sheet, which will then trigger the relevant workflow.

    In this instance you would build 3 workflows in the same intake sheet, with the trigger being based on the "Scenario" column:

    If "Scenario" is "Scenario 1", go through all of these approvals.

    If it's "Scenario 2" this will be the trigger for a different workflow, that skips over certain approvals, etc.


    Even though these are three different workflows, they can use the same columns to collect the "Approved" status for each different approver... two of the workflows will just skip over the non-relevant information.

    Does this make sense?

    Thanks!

    Genevieve

Answers

  • Genevieve P.
    Genevieve P. Employee Admin

    Hi Anthony,

    Do you currently have a sheet that this is based on, in Smartsheet? It might help to see a screen capture of this (without any sensitive data).

    The way that I would personally do this is actually to have three different sheets, one for each type of Submitter. (You can always pull a Report to consolidate the data from across the three sheets when needed).

    Then you would just need the respective columns per-sheet (so Scenario 3 wouldn't need to have the VP of Department column or approval column that Scenario 1 would require).

    I'm picturing something like this... where you have a column for each contact (except for the VP of Finance and the President, since these will presumably always be the same people), and then you will need a separate approval column for each type of approval.


    Then you could create a long Approval workflow, when wherever the first Approval is Approved, it goes to the next person in the list, and so on:

    Then at the end, you could have a final approval, but only if the column stating the $ amount is greater than $50k. Would this work for you? You can read more about the approval workflow in our Help Center (see here).

    Cheers,

    Genevieve

  • Anthony D'Ambrosio
    Anthony D'Ambrosio ✭✭✭✭✭

    Genevieve:

    Thank you so much for responding to my message and for providing an alternative solution. I have attached a PowerPoint showing screen shots of the form I created to be filled out, along with screen shots of the main sheet that gets populated. I don't mind having 3 sheets and then pulling a report to capture all the information. Would that mean I would need three forms based on reporting structure? Or could I have one form that feeds the three individual sheets and if so, how is this accomplished? My concern for having three forms is that it really doesn't make it easy for the submitters. Meaning they have to ensure that they are picking the right one. I know it sounds petty, but the easier and less cause for error I can create the better.

    Again, thanks again for helping me and based off of the PowerPoint please let me know if you have any other suggestions.

    Best,

    Anthony


  • Genevieve P.
    Genevieve P. Employee Admin
    Answer ✓

    Hi Anthony,

    Thank you for providing the screen captures - this makes more sense now. Yes, for my suggestion you would have three different forms going to three different sheets. Instead, you could keep it as one form into an overall intake sheet, and then use the Copy Row workflow to copy over the information to a new sheet specific for that workflow... however to do this you would need to have some sort of indicator for which version of the workflow the submitter belongs to.

    Then again, if you were going to build in a way to indicate which scenario the submitter belongs to, you could then just use that as the trigger for each different type of workflow and maintain one sheet.


    For example... could you have a Reference Sheet built, that categorizes each individual with their type of department/submission? It could be as simple as two columns: the user's contact in one column and their type of department (Scenario 1, 2, or 3) in the other column.

    Then you could have a cross-sheet INDEX(MATCH formula in a helper column on your main sheet that looks to see which scenario this submitter belongs to. When a new submission is made, It will update the Scenario status in this intake sheet, which will then trigger the relevant workflow.

    In this instance you would build 3 workflows in the same intake sheet, with the trigger being based on the "Scenario" column:

    If "Scenario" is "Scenario 1", go through all of these approvals.

    If it's "Scenario 2" this will be the trigger for a different workflow, that skips over certain approvals, etc.


    Even though these are three different workflows, they can use the same columns to collect the "Approved" status for each different approver... two of the workflows will just skip over the non-relevant information.

    Does this make sense?

    Thanks!

    Genevieve

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