Most transactions generated in the Oracle Financial System must be approved by a person or persons with the appropriate financial authority before they are considered complete. This topic overview describes the different types of financial transaction approval authority, roles and responsibilities of approvers and how approver routings are defined.

Prior to receiving approval authority, approvers must be granted appropriate approval authority and complete the required training. Utilize the information in the following table to learn about financial transactions that require approval, how approval authority is granted and the specific requirements prior to receiving approval access.

Financial Transactions Approval Privilege(s) How Authority is Granted How and When Approval Access is Enabled
Expense Requests transactions (Expense Reports, Travel Card, Advances, Digital Payments, Non-PO Payments and Petty Cash), Purchasing Card (PCard) transactions and iProcurement requisitions (Amazon Business, SmartMart and Non-Catalog orders) Financial System > Approvals > Requisitions Privileges are granted by authorized school/department resources. Access is dependent upon completion of required training:
Expense Requests and Purchasing Card (PCard) transaction escalation for dean-level approval Financial System > Approvals > Expenditure Escalation

Privileges are granted by Procurement Services.

Escalation Designees are assigned by the administrative dean or business unit finance office.

Access is granted within 24 hours of authority grant. 

For more information, refer to Escalation of Expenditure Transactions.

iBudgets Financial System > Approvals > Budget Control Privileges are granted by authorized school/department resources or the University Budget Office. Access is granted within 24 hours of authority grant.
iJournal transactions (public responsibility) Financial System > Approvals > Expense Journal (PTAEO Expenditure Type transfers) and/or GL Journal (PFOO object code transfers) Privileges are granted by authorized school/department resources. Access is dependent upon completion of required training:
iProcurement requisitions for Tax Exempt Research Alcohol Financial System> Approvals > Tax Exempt Alcohol To appoint an alcohol approver (typically a chairperson, manager or principal investigator) complete the Alcohol Purchase Authorization Form. Access is granted within 24 hours of authority grant.
Labor Distribution Adjustment Transactions Financial System > Approvals > Labor Distribution Privileges are granted by authorized school/department resources. Access is granted within 24 hours of authority grant.
Labor Schedules Labor Schedules are not routed for approval. When a Labor Schedule is created, an FYI notification is emailed to the individual with Labor Distribution approval authority over the Task Owning Org for the affected PTA and the PTA Task Manager.

Authorized approvers are expected to follow these Administrative Guide Policies when reviewing and approving financial transactions:

Financial transaction approvers are responsible for reviewing all salary and non-salary expenditures to ensure Proper Use of Funds.

Approval Limitations

  • Individuals may not approve their own expense reimbursement, or the expense reimbursement of an individual to whom they report directly or indirectly.
  • Individuals may not use the authentication information of another person to approve expenses on their behalf. 

Generally, there are four potential participants in the workflow process for a given transaction:

  • The Originator initiates the transaction which starts the approval workflow process.
  • The Approver provides an official financial “OK” for the transaction, attesting that the transaction is necessary, allowable and allocable for the PTA, as well as correctly coded and documented.
  • FYI Recipients receive an email notification informing them that the transaction has been initiated. FYI Recipients are not responsible for approving the transaction. For example, an FYI notification is automatically emailed to the Labor Distribution Approver when a labor schedule change occurs. The FYI Recipient can follow up with the transaction originator as required.
  • An End-Route is added to certain transactions based on business rules. End-Route transactions route per the workflow to central office staff (i.e., Controller's Office, Procurement or Research Financial Compliance & Services) for additional review and approval. For example, iBudget journal entries will end-route to all budget officers responsible for the award-owning organizations.

Depending upon the type of transaction and the financial authority of the originator, the workflow may begin and end with the originator, or it may route through any combination of the four potential participants before it is considered complete. 

Workflow differs slightly among the Oracle modules (iBudget, iJournal, Expense Requests, iProcurement, Labor Distribution and PCard). For more information, refer to Workflow Variations by Oracle Transaction Type.

If the originator of a transaction does not have adequate financial authority to fully approve the transaction, it will be routed to an authorized approver for review and approval. The Oracle Financial System uses the account structure to identify authorized approvers based on the PTA account(s) included in the transaction.

Expenditure Approver Hierarchy

For expenditure type transactions entered in iProcurement, Expense Requests, PCard, iJournals and Labor Distribution, Oracle Workflow starts looking for an approver at the specific task (Level 1) and then continues to subsequent levels, as needed, until it finds an authorized approver. If the system finds more than one authorized approver, it will route to the approver with the lowest dollar limit that is greater than the total dollar amount of the transaction.

Level 1 – The specific Project-Task combination
Level 2 – The parent Task, if one exists
Level 3 – The Project
Level 4 – All Tasks owned by a Principal Owner
Level 5 – The Task Owning Organization
Level 6 – The Parent Org of the Task Owning Organization

Revenue Journal and Fund Transfer Approval Hierarchy

For revenue journals and fund transfers, Oracle Workflow starts looking for an approver for the specific Fund (Level 1) and then continues to subsequent levels, as needed, until it finds an authorized approver.

Level 1 – The specific Fund (corresponding to the Award)
Level 2 - All Awards owned by a Principal Owner
Level 3 – The Award Owning Organization
Level 4 – The Parent Org of the Award Owning Organization

Workflow Routing

If authority is identical for two people on the approval routing list, the system will route to the first name it finds in the authority table. The best way to control the routing of transactions to approvers is to establish a unique authority for each approver. For example, rather than grant approval authority to three people at the same level (e.g., Project), they can be assigned different dollar limits. The system will always choose the person with the lowest limit that will cover the transaction within a level. The person with the next higher limit will only be chosen when the first approver's dollar limit is exceeded.

Routing for Independent Review

Specific transactions require independent review. Depending on the transaction type, the independent reviewer is either automatically added or must be added manually. For more information, see Independent Review of Senior Executive Expenses.

Oracle email notifications signal approvers when a transaction is pending their approval. The email notification includes information about the transaction. In most cases, approvers are required to log in to Oracle to review and take action on the transaction. 

All university employees with a SUNet ID receive authority to access the Workflow Notification module in Oracle through the responsibility SU Workflow Notifications. The Oracle Workflow Notification module provides a consolidated worklist containing all transactions requiring approval action, regardless of the Oracle module they originated in. The first three items on an approver's Worklist are listed at the top of the Oracle home page, with one-click access to the Full List.

From the Workflow Notifications Worklist, approvers can:

  • Review notifications for transactions awaiting approval
  • Approve or reject transactions
  • View approval history and current routing lists

How-to Instructions for Approvers 

Oracle Financials allows both vacation delegation (selecting someone to act on your behalf for a specified period of time) and the ability to give someone access to your Worklist (typically, to allow colleagues with similar authority to act for each other at any time, or for emergency back up). Refer to Delegate or Share Oracle Approval Worklist for more information.

Procurement Services Business Expense auditors may choose to escalate financial transactions for dean-level review when the cost of the expenditure seems excessive or the expense is outside of university policy.

For the small percentage of transactions that could be deemed excessive or unusual, Business Expense auditors will escalate the transaction to an escalation designee assigned by the administrative dean or business unit finance office. Escalation to the designee will only occur when a transaction has unusually high cost or is outside of normal university policy and has already been approved by all other approvers in the standard approval workflow.

The escalation designee will receive notification requesting review of the transaction. When the escalation designee approves a transaction, they are attesting that their dean's office or unit finance office supports the expenditure and the amount paid.

Escalation Process Flow

Image of Escalation Process Flow

Refer to How to: Review/Approve Escalated Expense Requests and PCard Transactions for more information.

Independent review is a process that applies to Stanford expenses made on behalf of the President, Provost, and senior finance leaders of the organization. Independent review is an additional safeguard to ensure that senior executive expenses are approved by someone who does not directly or indirectly report to the senior executive. Transactions that are not made on behalf of the President, Provost, and senior finance leaders of the organization do not require independent review.

The independent review approval workflow process varies depending on the transaction type:

  • All senior executive expense transactions entered in the Expense Request System (ERS) are automatically routed for independent review.
  • Transactions outside of ERS, including Purchasing Cards (PCards), petty cash and purchase requisitions, require manual entry of an independent reviewer in the approval workflow routing.

Transaction preparers should consult with the organization’s Dean’s office to determine which individuals require independent review and to identify independent review approvers by organization.