“The bill issued by a vendor for goods delivered or services rendered to a customer. The recipient of a supplier invoice issues its own invoices to its customers, and so may refer to supplier invoices as vendor invoices to more clearly differentiate them.”
As a business, you probably receive a couple of these requests weekly or monthly from your suppliers. Although vital to continue receiving or using goods or services on time, the process of constantly and manually monitoring and approving your inbox for every supplier invoice that arrives can be tedious and time-consuming.
That’s why Supplier Invoice Approval Workflow automation is a must. There are various ways and approaches to automating this process. In this post, we will show you how you can now create an automated Supplier Invoice Approval workflow in several easy steps.
Take note that for our scenario the entire Supplier Invoice Approval Workflow automation:
- Gmail to receive invoices from suppliers
- Google Sheets to manage lookup tables, logging, tracking of each step
- Google Drive to store the invoices sent through email. Each invoice will be stored in a folder specific to the supplier
- zenphi to connect all these tools, assign tasks to employees to review and approve/reject invoices, and to orchestrate the whole process.
Here is summary of the process
- Supplier sends the invoice as an email attachment to a specific inbox.
- The supplier’s information, i.e. who is the employee handling the supplier, the supplier folder, etc., is looked up from a Google Sheet based on the email address sending the invoice.
- The invoice gets stored in the Google Drive folder specific to the supplier.
- A task is assigned to the handler of the supplier to review and approve/reject the invoice:
- If it’s rejected, the supplier gets notified, and the process is terminated
- If it’s approved, proceed to the payment processing
- A task is assigned to the Account Payable team to process the payment.
- The Account Payable team either Approves the makes the payment or rejects the payment.
- The supplier is notified of the result.
*Note that after each step, we update the Log sheet about the progress of the process
Let’s get started. . .
Step-by-step creation of the Supplier Invoice Approval Workflow Automation with zenphi:
Create a Google Sheets with two Sheets, one for your Supplier Lookup Table, and another one for Logging. In the Lookup sheet, create the columns for the information you’d like to lookup based on the supplier’s email address.
In the Logs Sheet, create a set of columns for each stage of the process you’d like to log and track.
The Drive folder for each of your suppliers where their recurring invoices will be stored for documentation. Please note that you need to use the Folder Id instead of the Folder Name in the Lookup table. That’s because Google Drive is very forgiving and lets us have multiple Folders with the same Name in the same location.
Once you create a new flow, you have to enter necessary information such as the name of your flow.
Select the trigger action. Choose New Email. This means this Supplier Invoice Approval workflow will be activated every time an email arrives in the appointed inbox that receives supplier invoices.
Assign the Connection. This is the inbox that will be monitored by the Supplier Invoice Approval Workflow automation we are creating right now. Then, hit the ‘Create’ button.
This is where the real magic starts. From the left-hand side of your monitor, click Control Flow and drag and drop If Condition.
Click the Settings and name the condition. I named it “Does not have attachment?” Then set the condition.
After setting the clause of the if condition, the branch will look like this.
From the designer panel, click Utilities and drag and drop Log To History to the True branch. This will help you determine the solution. When the flow begins, if no attachment was detected, the flow will be directed to the True branch. What Log To History does is state why a certain error or Flow termination occurs.
Click Setting. Fill in the message. Indicate what went wrong. The underlined From is a parameter. It means the invoice sender.
Select Control Flow from the left-hand side of your screen and drag and drop Terminate Workflow. If it’s true that no document was attached from the email, the entire workflow is terminated.
If the “Does not Have Attachment” conditional logic yields False, then proceed to the next step. Select Date Time and drag/drop Current Date Time. It will record the date the email arrived in the inbox.
Click Utilities then drag and drop Generate GUID. This will assign a unique identification number to your document should you look for it in the future.
From the left-hand side of your screen, click GMail. then drag and drop Get Email. This will retrieve the email information of the invoice sender.
Go to Text, then drag and drop Extract Value.
Click Settings, and then the parameter(the icon encircled red). Select Get Email Information and choose From. This step will extract all the information from the email and log it into the Supplier’s Mapping Sheet we created earlier.
Click Utilities, then drag and drop Log To History. It will indicate that the email information was successfully retrieved.
Go to Click Setting and click the parameter. Click Extract Email Information, then choose Result.
From the left-hand side of your screen, click Google Sheets, then drag and drop Lookup Row. This step will involve the Supplier Mapping Sheet created earlier and from what Drive it was saved.
Click Setting. Name it “Lookup Supplier”. Connection is the internal person who will handle this information. In our case, this Google Drive is owned by Wonder Woman, our personnel who handles the supplier invoicing tasks. Clicking the Drive icon, select the Sheet(Supplier Mapping sheet) assigned for supplier’s information.
In the Sheet Name, make sure it’s the right sheet.
From your left-hand monitor again, click Collection, then drag and drop Query Collection.
Again, go to Settings. I named this action “Get Invoice from Attachments”. Click the parameter icon(the one encircled in red), and then select from the dropdown list Get Email Information. Select Attachment. Also, make sure that you select the First item.
Find Google Drive from your left-hand screen, then drag and drop Save File.
Go to Settings, then name this step as “Save Invoice To Drive”. Connection is the Drive you want the file stored in, in this case, it’s Wonder Woman’s Drive. Click the parameter and select Get Invoice From Attachment. From the dropdown list, select Payload.
For the Destination Folder, click parameter and choose Lookup Supplier. From the dropdown list, select Row, and then, Folder ID[D].
Select Google Sheets from your left-hand screen, then drag and drop Add Row. This step will automatically add a new row to your Supplier Mapping sheet along with the information of the invoice sender.
Go to Settings and name the step appropriately. The connection is still Wonder Woman’s drive. Click the Drive icon and choose the Supplier Mapping sheet. For the Log section, click the Google Sheets icon and choose the appropriate sheet in your Supplier Mapping file.
Scroll down and enable Has Header. Add all the necessary column for your log such as:
- Internal Id
- Date Received
- Invoice Url
- Handler Approval Date
- Handler Approval Outcome
- Finance Approval Date
- Finance Approval Outcome
The Log sheet should look like this.
Select Communication from the left-hand side of your screen, then drag and drop Assign Task.
Go to Settings and name this step “Get Handler’s Approval”. Add two outcomes, one for the approval and one for the rejection. You can add the synonyms of approve/reject as shown in the example.
Configure the Assignee section by clicking the parameter icon. Click Lookup Supplier, and then from the dropdown list, choose Handler[C].
To configure the Email Subject, click the parameter icon, and then select Lookup Supplier. Select Row, and from the dropdown list, select Name[A]. This will automatically retrieve the name of the invoice sender.
Again, the parameter icon and then choose Generate Internal Id. From the dropdown list, select GUID. This will retrieve the specific invoice that the handler will review.
Configure the body of the message that will be sent to the invoice handler by clicking the parameter icon. Next is clicking the Lookup Supplier, then Row. From the dropdown list, choose Name[A].
Head to the parameter icon, then Save Invoice To Drive. From the dropdown list, select View Link. This action will include a link to the submitted invoice that the handler needs to review.
Select Control Flow from your left-hand screen, then drag and drop the If Condition.
Go to the Settings and name this step as “Approved?”, and then, set the right clause for this condition.
Click GMail, then drag and drop Send Email to False branch.
Click the Settings icon and start filling in the right information. Name the step as “Notify the Supplier”. The Connection is Wonder Woman’s email address. Then click the parameter icon(encircled in red) and choose From.
The body of the rejection email will look like this.
Get the right parameters:
Go to the parameter icon, then select Lookup Supplier. Click Row, then from the dropdown list, select Name[A]. This action will automatically retrieve the name of the invoice sender.
Next is the Approval comment of the invoice handler. Click the parameter icon, then click Get Handlers’s Approval. From the dropdown list, choose Comment. This step will automatically retrieve the personnel’s comment as to why the invoice was rejected.
For the Attachment section of the rejection email, you can click first the parameter icon(encircled in red), and then Get Invoice From Attachment, then from the dropdown list, choose Payload. This will automatically retrieve the said invoice and send it back to the supplier to fix it.
Select Control Flow, then drag and drop Terminate Flow. This is the last part, the Supplier Invoice Approval Workflow will terminate should the condition yield False.
Should the condition yield True, then you move to the next step of the Supplier Invoice Approval Workflow automation.
Click Communication from your left-hand screen, then drag and drop Assign Task. to True branch.
Go to the Settings icon and input the name of the task.
Configure the Email Subject section by clicking the parameter icon, and then select Generate Internal ID. From the dropdown menu, click GUID.
You can configure the email body by clicking the parameter icon, then clicking Lookup Supplier. Click again the Row, and from the dropdown list, select Name[A]. This will retrieve the name of the supplier who sent the invoice.
Go to the parameter icon, then click Lookup Supplier. Select Row, and then click Handler[C]. This will automatically retrieve the name of the personnel handling the invoice.
Click the parameter icon, then select Save Invoice to Drive. From the dropdown list, select View Link. This step will automatically attach the invoice that needs checking.
Choose Google Sheets from the left-hand screen, and then drag and drop Update Row. This step will log the response of the invoice handler to the Supplier Mapping sheet.
Go to Settings. In the File section, click the Drive icon and select the Supplier Mapping sheet.
For the Row section, click the parameter icon. Then click the Log Receiving of the Invoice, and from the drop-down list, select Row Number. This will automatically record the invoice information to your Supplier Mapping sheet.
Enable Header and add two columns for Finance Approval Date[H] and Finance Approval Outcome[I].
Assign a value to each column by clicking the parameter icon. Choose Assign Task To Account Payable, then from the dropdown list, select Response Time.
Select Control Flow, then drag and drop If Condition.
Go to Settings, and then name the step. In our workflow, it’s “Approved?”. Then set the condition.
If the condition is true, then payment will be made to the account, and the entire Supplier Invoice Approval Workflow will successfully end.
If false, the team will send an automated rejection letter to the invoice sender. Select GMail from the left-hand side of your screen, and then drag and drop Send Email to the False branch.
Click Settings and name the step as “Notify the Supplier”. Connection is Wonder Woman’s email address. Configure To section by clicking the parameter icon and clicking Context. Click Parameter, and from the dropdown list, select From.
Set the body of the email notification by clicking the parameter icon. Then click Lookup Supplier. Click Row, and from the dropdown list, select Name[A].
Configure the Attachment section by clicking the parameter icon. Click Get Invoice from Attachments, and from the dropdown list, select Payload.