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Coupa Success Portal

Managerial Hierarchy


Management hierarchy approvals are used when a request needs the approval of the requester's manager. Coupa builds a management hierarchy for your organization using the Next Approver value on user records. Coupa also uses the Self Approval Limits and Approval Limits values on the user record to decide when to keep adding approvers with a higher approval limit until the request total is covered.

Hierarchical approvals are typically easiest in terms of configuration and maintenance. It minimizes complexities as the system takes on the burden of building the approval path based on the users' Next Approver (i.e. reporting manager). This requires manager information and approval limits to be present on the user record.

More information can be found here and here.

Scoping Questions

  • Are invoice approvals based on the invoice requester's management hierarchy?
  • Does each employee have a reporting manager?
    • Is this something that can be provided by your HR system (or source system for user data)?
  • Does each user have a defined invoice approval limit or position (DOA policy) which dictates the amount they are allowed to approve?
    • Is this something that can be provided by your HR system (or source system for user data)?

Design Options

The requirements ultimately drive the design, however from a best practices perspective, aim to get as close to:

  • Alignment between Invoice and Requisition approval workflow for consistency, which helps with user training, configuration, and maintenance.
    • If requisitions approvals follow management hierarchy, there is a good chance invoice should too.
  • Invoice approval limits
    • Best practice is to follow your existing Delegation of Authority (DoA) policy so approval limits can be defined based on the role/position level of the user (e.g. all Managers get 10K approval limit). This will help facilitate an easier configuration, integration, and user experience.
    • In Coupa, the Management Hierarchy Positions table can be leveraged to assign specific positions and approval limits to allow for a simpler mapping process.
  • Set an Invoices Ultimate Approver to handle potential exceptions.


 Do.png (Design aligned to best practice -- green) Dont.png (Risk -- orange)
⭐ Use consistent management hierarchy approval limit levels. For example, if there is a Director who has an approval limit of $5,000. All directors should have $5,000 ⚠️ Management hierarchy approval limits matrix that routes 80% of your invoices to more than 5 levels
⭐ Management hierarchy approval limits matrix that routes 80% of your invoices to less than 5 levels ⚠️ Next Approver left blank for any of your users
⭐ Each user should have a next approver so that there won't be a break in the approval workflow forcing invoices to route to the ultimate approver ⛔️ Not integrating users (next approver, approval limits) when there are over 500 active users
⭐ If you are also using static and/or dynamic approval chains alongside management hierarchy consider skipping middle approvers  
⭐ If you have more than 250-500 active users, look into developing an integration to provision and maintain your user data (incl. next approver and approval limits)  
⭐ Recommended ⚠️ Risk ⛔️ Not Recommended

Things to avoid

  • Not setting up a Next Approver for each user
  • Implementing a lengthy management hierarchy that invokes more than 5 levels of approvals
  • Not setting up an Invoices Ultimate Approver
  • Not integrating users (next approver, approval limits) when having more than 500 active users in the platform
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