Reducing approval time and TCO with a rapid notification and requisition approval process in Oracle E-Business Suite.

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The client is one of the largest school bus operators, student transportation, transit, and coach bus service providers in the world. Its US operations include a massive fleet of more than 15,000 school, transit, and coach buses. They rely on Oracle E-Business Suite (R12.1.3) to support Financials, Asset Management, and Procurement. The Oracle iProcurement module is used heavily to manage purchasing and the approval process.

Business Process

Users from multiple locations across US and Canada raise PO Requisitions in iProcurement to procure parts and materials to fix the fleet of buses. The Requisition goes for Multiple Approval Levels based on the Approval limit and follows the supervisory Hierarchy in Oracle. The Approval limits are maintained for each job title in Oracle Approval Management (AME).

Requisitions are either created as an Expense or Item Master purchase from the approved supplier list. Purchase quotes are created and maintained in Oracle for multiple approved suppliers. Users will select specific categories while creating Requisitions, and each is tied to a specific GL account string in Oracle.

Each location has an approved budget limit depending on the size of the location. The location-level budget is maintained outside of Oracle by the Finance team and monitored weekly based on the purchases and expenses. After the Requisition is approved, the Purchase Orders will be automatically created in Oracle. No approval process is followed for the Purchase Order in Oracle, so it will be automatically approved.

Key Requirements

The Requisition needs to be reviewed by the Procurement team after being submitted for approval if one of the following conditions is satisfied. (The Procurement team is not part of the Supervisory Hierarchy).

  1. The requisition amount is greater than 5K for a non-Approved supplier.
  2. The requisition amount is greater than 25K for an Approved Supplier.

If the Requisition is raised for an Accident Category or Fuel Category, it must go for additional Approvals from the regional manager of that location. When the location exceeds budget, or the allocated fund is 100 percent utilized, the requisition should include the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in the Approval Hierarchy. Self-Approval limits will be removed for all levels of the Requisition approval until it reaches the CFO. When the Requisition is created for the capital budget account in the GL string, the Requisition should go to the Financial Analyst Queue for review and approval.

Key Business Challenges

  • A high volume of requisitions raised daily: more than 500 requisitions are raised per day raised by users across the United States and Canada.
  • Budgets were maintained outside of Oracle by a separate system.
  • Multiple regions were monitored together by the same regional managers. By adding multiple approval levels, the requisition approval process will stall, which will have a direct impact on fixing the bus that requires immediate service.
  • Based on the requirements, the new approvers need to be inserted into the existing Supervisory Hierarchy.
  • Approval limits differ between the US and Canada and have unique job titles.
  • Performance: each and every requisition needed to be validated.

Solution: Automate the Requisition Approval Process via Workflow

The Oracle workflow engine was modified to perform an additional validation:

Oracle EBS PO Requisition Approval process diagram

ennVee built a custom solution to validate the budget information for each location and add the Special Approver. The Special Approvers were maintained in the Profile option, so whenever there is a change in the person who will be reviewing the Requisitions, it will only be made in the profile without any code change.

Approval notifications were also modified in the workflow to validate the number of days the Requisition is pending with the current Approver, and to send escalation notifications to the immediate supervisor.

The custom solution was also optimized to improve performance in the overall approval process. To further augment performance, the client's DBAs can also increase and close the open cursor on the JDBC connections.

Outcome: Shorter Approval time, streamlined process

Benefit 1 — The rapid notification process substantially reduces approval time and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). This is accomplished by effectively monitoring the dollars in the Requisition approval process, and avoiding the Requisition approval process when the location exceeds budget (which controls the expense and maintains the budget).

Benefit 2 — The solution is entirely automated to reduce the amount of manual effort required for monitoring.

Benefit 3 — Additional Approvers streamline the process so the requisition is validated at multiple levels before the Purchase Order is raised. Having additional validation helped the client select the right supplier and the lowest price for the item being purchased.

Benefit 4 — The process also helped the client recommend and require the use of the Item Master purchase with the lowest quote, as opposed to purchasing a product available nearby with a higher price tag.

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