Business Central Dynamics 365

Workflows in Business Central - Ready Reckoner - Part 1

A multipart blog on workflows in Business Central.

by Rajamurukesh D on August 13, 2023

What are Workflows?

Workflows are series of steps performed in a specified sequence or performed in parallel to complete a task or a process and usually the sequence is controlled based on the conditions evaluated and change based on the outcome of the evaluation. Workflows are generally used for handling repetitive tasks that otherwise would take lots of time and manual effort. So, workflows are setup to increase efficiency in processing repetitive tasks and add the element of automation, which has evolved into a separate niche – Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

Today, the software market is flooded with countless options of workflow management software (WMS) solutions like, Kissflow, Zapier, clickUp etc., that enable users to setup, manage and track workflows. Most of the business applications like MS Dynamics 365, SAP, Oracle, Salesforce have workflows as a built-in feature that can be used to create and manage workflows in whichever business processes, they are handling.

Workflows in Dynamics 365 Business Central

MS Dynamics 365 BC (referred to as BC hereafter), also has capability to create and manage workflows. Workflows in BC are based on the workflow templates which come as standard option with options to customize and there is also provision to create Custom workflows which don’t necessarily use the standard templates. Workflows can be created for default categories like ADMIN – Administration, FIN – Finance, INT – Integration, PURCH – Purchases and Payables, PURCHDOC – Purchase Documents, SALES – Sales and Marketing, SALESDOC – Sales Documents and new categories can also be created.

In addition to the categories, there are following additional points to note w.r.t approval workflows.

  1. Workflow Templates : List of predefined templates, which can be modified based on the requirement.
  2. Workflow User Groups : List of users within BC, who are going to be part of workflows that are created.
  3. Workflow Notification Setup : Page where the notification method and schedule for notification types can be configured.
  4. Workflow Event/Response Combinations : Page which shows a matrix of list of preceding events (trigger) and responses with option for enabling or disabling a combination based on choice.
  5. Workflow Event Hierarchies : Page which shows a matrix of list of preceding events and the sequence of response actions that are available with option for enabling or disabling.
  6. Approval User Setup : Page where approvers, substitutes, respective approval limit ($ value) for approvers are setup for users who are part of workflows being created.
  7. Workflow Table Relations : Data table showing information about list of tables, fields related to the workflow and events involved.

Approval Workflow Setup

Workflows can be created using the predefined templates available, to create on user can search for workflows and select the Workflows list, on the workflows list page, click on New Workflow from Template to see the available list of workflow templates as shown in the picture below.

Select a desired template from the list of available templated and click on ‘OK’. A workflow based on the template selected is created with predefined workflow steps as shown in the picture below.
A workflow step consists of three components, and a workflow can have multiple workflow steps.

When Event

A lookup showing list of possible events that can happen in the system and can be used for creating a workflow.

On Condition :

The list of possible parameters that can be used to filter and select the event chosen in ‘When Event’ so that the workflow step applies only to those events matches the criteria that is selected in this page. For example, in the picture below, a workflow for purchase order approval is created with ‘When Event’ – ‘Approval of a purchase document is requested’ and the ‘Document Type’ and ‘Status’ filters are used to select only those requests that match the condition Document Type = Order and Status = Open. All the possible filter parameters can be used to narrow down and select the specific event(s) matching the desired conditions.

Workflow Responses :

The list of possible responses that can be configured when an event type selected in ‘When Event’ is encountered with the filter conditions applied in ‘On Condition’. User can select the response or multiple responses based on the business requirement. For example, in the picture below, when selected event is encountered by the workflow, the following responses are executed or exercised.

  1. Add Record Restriction – add restriction to the document meeting the criteria so that it can’t be edited until the workflow is approved or rejected or canceled.
  2. Set document status to Pending Approval – set status of the document to Pending Approval to indicate other users.
  3. Create an approval request for the record using an appropriate approver type and approver limit type
  4. Send approval request for the record and create a notification – send approval request for the record to the user/user group based on the approver and approver type configured and create a notification in the form of an email or a note.

Once the ‘When Event’, ‘On Condition’ and ‘Workflow Response’ are selected, a workflow step is successfully added. Based on the requirement additional steps can be added to the workflow to complete the setup.

After the workflow is setup, it needs to be enabled by setting the Enabled field to yes as shown below, then the workflow will be applied on events that meet the criteria configured.

With the completion of above-mentioned steps, a workflow is setup and ready to be applied on events that match the criteria configured. For example, picture below shows a purchase order with Request for Approval menu and related sub menu active, so that the user can request for approval. Note that when an approval workflow for purchase order is created, the approval menu becomes active for all purchase orders, however only for those purchase order that match the criteria configured for a purchase order approval workflow (enabled) will be sent for approval.

User can click on ‘Send Approval Request’ menu to send the order for approval, and if the order matches the criteria of a workflow, then it will be sent for the approval, as shown in the picture below.

And if the order does not match the criteria of a workflow, or if there are no purchase order related workflows enabled, then it will not be sent for the approval, an alert will be displayed as shown in the picture below.

In the workflows list page, user can create a new workflow from template, copy an existing workflow or create a new workflow without using the predefined workflow templates.

Please note that, menu Copy Workflow will be enabled only when a workflow from the list is selected. User can select or click on any of the menu based on the requirement and follow the steps mentioned above to create and enable workflows.

What’s next?

Workflows in BC can be used to introduce automation or reduce dependency on users for going through the approval processes that the business or organization would want to have in place. In BC, multiple combinations of Approver and Approver Type based workflows can be created, we will see a few important and most suited workflow types in the following blogs.

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