February 19th, 2009
Well, it depends. Generally speaking, Oracle provides capabilities to integrate approvals within your business process. However, depending on the module and transaction these capabilities can vary. As an Order to Cash expert, I want to bring some clarity to what the out-of-the-box approval capabilities are within the Quoting and Order Management modules, then go into some of the enhancements I’ve implemented in the past to improve the functionality in some of these areas.
Approvals in Quoting
You may have heard of Oracle’s Approval Management (AME) module. AME provides flexible, workflow-based approval capabilities and serves as a one-stop-shop for managing all fixed and dynamic approval hierarchies throughout Oracle EBS.
Lucky for you, the Quoting module is well integrated with AME functionality, allowing approval hierarchies to be dynamically built based on different types of transactional criteria such as operating unit, total quote amount, customer, etc. Base approval lists can be built manually or can be associated with SQL statements to dynamically generate hierarchies based on employee data. Quoting also provides security settings that allow skipping an approver in the hierarchy or bypassing the process entirely.
Needless to say, the tight integration between the Quoting and AME modules provides great out-of-the-box approval functionality that is likely to meet or exceed your business requirements.
Approvals in Order Management
I wish I could say the same about Order Management (OM). Unfortunately, there’s no out-of-the-box integration between OM and AME. Compared to Quoting, the approval capabilities are limited and inconsistent depending on what type of transaction you’re performing.
You’ve probably seen the Approver setups in the OM module by clicking on the “Approvals” button on the order type setup screen; however, these setups pertain only to Negotiations (OM’s version of quoting). The configuration gives the impression that approval lists can be built for Fulfillment type transactions (orders), but Oracle hasn’t implemented these capabilities into any of the generic OM workflows.
Another setback with Approver setups in OM is that they’re assigned and dedicated to a transaction type. This can cause issues if you have multiple facilities that each require their own set of approvers, but are under the same operating unit in Oracle and share the same set of order types. The only work-around for this is to create a separate set of transaction types for each facility, but this can get ugly. Additionally, the approval lists are fixed, sequential and do not provide any of the dynamic capabilities that are available in the AME module.
It gets worse for return transactions. The capabilities are limited to only allowing individual approvals and not approval hierarchies. The generic return workflows in OM refer to a profile option that allows storage for only one approver.
As you can guess, most of the enhancements I’ve designed and implemented have been to compensate for the limited approval functionality in OM. Generally there are two approaches, each varying in complexity and produce different results.
As low-cost alternative with quick turnaround, I’ve provided enhancements to the seeded order and return workflows that incorporate the Approver setups in OM. I say “quick” because Oracle already provides the necessary nuts and bolts to easily “plug” in the approver functionality with minimal customization. Though the solution is low cost and quick, the functionality will still not provide all the capabilities of the AME module as I mentioned earlier. However, this may suit your business fine depending upon your requirements.
A fancier approach I’ve taken is to integrate OM with the Approvals AME module entirely. This way all the capabilities I spoke of earlier in the Quoting module are also made available to OM. From a technical standpoint it’s definitely more involved than the first enhancement I mentioned, but if your business requires the flexibility, it certainly can provide a great return on investment.