8. Run approvals and release funds

AlSuite has three approval instances, i.e. the approval of an activity plan after it has been filed, the approval of a requisition after an activity plan has been approved and associated expense items booked and the approval of a field report after an activity for which a field report is expected has been executed. In this section we look at the approval chain.

8.1       Checking operations unit settings
Each operations unit has a section called “Settings” where you are able to see the approvers for the different instances.

In order to access the operations unit settings, log into the application -> go to Navi Bar 1, button “Operations” -> select the operations unit of interest -> go to Navi Bar 2 -> click on “Settings”. You will see the settings of that unit as depicted in Fig 1 below.
Figure 1: Operations unit settings
In the figure above, we see four settings, i.e. persons who can approve activity plans, requisitions, field reports and persons granted access to the unit.

Note: Approval settings are configured in a different unit called “Approvals”. If you need approval settings changed, please contact your System Administrator.

8.2       Changing the status of an Activity Plan to filed
After creating an activity plan (AP), it is by defaulted in status “Not yet filed”. For as long as an AP is in this status, the assumption is that it is still being documented. Assuming it is ready for approval, the status has to be changed to “Filed”.
Figure 2: Changing the status of an activity plan to "Filed"

At this point, the different persons supposed to approve it, will see it in the section of the dashboard called “My Alerts, Reminders”.

Note: You can also access the list of activity plan by using the search mechanisms of the application.

8.3       Approve activity plan
In order to approve an activity plan, you have two options:

Option 1: Go to the operations unit dashboard -> in the section “My Alerts, Reminders” at the top right section of the right panel. Under “Pending Approvals”, click on the digit against “Activity Plan Approver”.

In Fig 3 below, the section “My Alerts, Reminders” has 1 AP in pending approval.
Figure 3: Operations dashboard, with one activity plan pending approval
Note that each blue digit in the dashboard panel is a link. By clicking on it, you are redirected to more detailed section. In this particular case, by clicking on the digit “1” against “Activity Plan” approver, you will be redirected the summary display of the AP in question. Click on the activity summary in question in the left panel to display details in the right panel. 

At the beginning of the right panel, you are presented with two form fields:
  • Status: Change the status of an activity plan here, from "Pending" to "Approved" or "Rejected". 
  • Is a field report required? Specify here whether a field report is required or not. By default a field report is required for an activity plan, but not for a bill or a purchase.
An activity plan pending approval is displayed in Fig 4 below:
Figure 4: Activity plan pending approval
The above figure displays the activity plan approval section in status “Pending” and a field report is required for this activity. 

Option 2: The option is to access approvals through the unit “Approvals” as shown in Figure 25 below.
Figure 5: Accessing approvals through the approval unit
In the above figure, upon clicking on the button “My Approvals”, the user can choose to either access activity plans, requisitions or field reports pending approval.

However, you can only access this unit if you have been granted access to it. Most users do not require access to the unit “Approvals” as it is mainly used for system administration, especially the configuration of approval settings.

8.4       Post bookings
After an activity plan has been approved by all approval levels, it is queued for booking if it has expense items (requisitions) associated with it. Booking is the process of assigning the chart of account line, the budget and the client financing the different requisition lines associated with an activity plan. Booking is handled in the unit “Accounts”.

In order to see the list of activity plans pending booking, access AlSuite -> in Navi Bar 1 click on “Operations” -> click on “Accounts” unit -> in Navi Bar 2 click on “Booking Queue”. You will be able to see the list of activity plans pending booking as shown in Fig 6 below.
Figure 6: Requisitions queued in Account unit pending booking
The “Booking Queue” has specific links in Navi Bar 3, i.e. Incomplete Bookings and Complete Bookings. By default, the list of incomplete bookings is displayed. In Fig. 6 above, we have two activities pending booking. In order to book an activity, click on the activity in question and click on the button “Edit Booking”. You will be presented with a section as shown in Fig 7 below:
Figure 7: Window panel for booking requisitions
In Fig 7 above, we initiate the booking process by clicking on the button “Edit Booking” of an activity in question. We then assign the client, budget and the Asset or Expense account in question. In the case above, we have specified the client, budget and Asset / Expense account. Classes and sub-classes are extra parameters that are optional.

Note: In the AlSuite environment, booking is not synonymous with posting. At this point of booking, we are only specifying the different instances that will be touched at the time of posting the transaction, i.e. client, budget, asset or expense account, classes and sub-classes. Posting will be done at the time of funds release, whereupon the respective amounts will be posted to the specified instances.

For a booking to be treated as complete, all requisition lines should have been booked. In Fig 8 below, we notice that a client, budget and CoA code have been assigned to accommodation, but Airtime has not booking entries yet. In this case, the whole activity plan is treated as not yet fully booked.
Figure 7: Requisitions in incomplete booking state

For as long as any requisition line has no client or budget or CoA code, the whole booking is retained in status “Incomplete”. Once all codes have been assigned, the booking automatically changes status to “Complete” and can then be seen in the queue of “Complete Bookings”. Also, complete bookings are automatically queued for approval by persons responsible for the approval of requisitions. They would see this in the “My Alerts, Reminders” section.

Complete bookings can be seen under the section "Complete Bookings" as shown in Fig 8 below:
Figure 8: Accessing complete bookings in the Accounts unit

8.5       Approve requisitions
In order to approve a requisition, go to Navi Bar 1 -> click on the button “Operations” -> select the unit of choice -> go to “My Alerts, Reminders” -> click on the digit against the section “Requisition Approver”. The summary of activities pending approval will be displayed. The top section in the right panel will have the form field "Status", where the requisition approval status can be changed from "Pending" to "Approved" or "Rejected" - see Fig 9 below:

Figure 9: Approving a requisition

After a requisition has been approved, it will appear in the queue of approved requisitions pending the release of funds.

In order to access the list of approved requisitions, go to Navi Bar 1 and select the button “Operations” -> select the Account unit -> in Navi Bar 2 select “Approved REQNs Queue”. You will be able to see the list of approved requisitions in the left panel. This list in the queue is waiting for the release of funds.

8.6       Release funds
Once a requisition has been approved, it is now time to release funds. In order to indicate that funds have been released for a given activity plan, go to the queue of approved requisitions as explained in the previous section, click on the activity for which funds have been released. The detailed section is shown as depicted in Fig 10 below.
Figure 10: List of approved requisitions pending the release of funds
In the figure above, we can see under the "Budget" section in the right panel, a list of two requisitions pending release of funds. 

In order to set funds as released, click on the button “Add Payment”  and enter pertinent details, i.e. account from which the money is paid, amount, payment method and date of payment. This is shown in Fig 11 below:
Figure 11: Window pane for specifying payment details upon release of funds

At the point of funds release, bookings that were previously done are now posted. You notice now, that we also have the bank account that will be credited with respective expense lines.

The release of funds is the final state in raising an activity plan with requisitions, running bookings, getting necessary approvals and releasing funds to executing activities.

After activities have been executed, these must be filed and accountability filed. We shall look at this process in the next section.

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