Free Text Shopping Cart Approval Flowchart

Shopping Cart Approval Process (12.13.21)

The shopping cart approval process can be complicated to understand and feel overwhelming.  Our goal in this article is to break down the approval process into its components and provide insight into why each step is important.  With that in mind, let’s start exploring the approval path.

We’ll begin at the point where the shopper clicks the “order” button on the shopping cart.  This is when the cart gets submitted into the approval path – let's follow the steps: 

Step 1 (Initial Procurement Approval): Shopping carts will first go to Procurement (or ARL Procurement) for an initial review.  In this step, the purchasing staff assigned to the cart will review to verify that appropriate documentation (quotes, sole source justifications, etc.) are attached, they will review the overall shopping cart details (see Building a Successful Shopping Cart), and they will review whether the appropriate Product Categories have been assigned.  The purchasing staff will either approve or reject the cart after their review.   

Note: ARL Shopping Carts will route to a Finance Approval (Step 1A) prior to going to the  purchasing staff for review. 

Step 2 (Property Inventory): Once the cart has been approved through the initial procurement review, the SIMBA system will decide (based on data on the SC) whether the cart needs to route to Property Inventory (or ARL Property Inventory) for the assignment of an Asset.  Property Inventory staff will review the cart and assign the asset number and approve or reject the cart. If an asset is not indicated by the shopping cart data this step is skipped. 

Steps 3 – 5 (FN18 Approvals):  The next steps in the approval process make up budget and finance steps that are required as part of University policy FN18. This policy outlines key financial controls, levels of authority, and division of responsibilities that are crucial to the proper management of University funds.  Let’s briefly review these steps: 

Step 3 (Departmental Budget Approval): In this step the department’s Budget Assistant (for  transactions less than $10,000) or Budget Administrator (for Transactions greater than  $10,000) will review and either approve or reject the shopping cart. 

Step 4 (Business Area Budget Executive): For transactions greater than $100,000 the Business  Area Budget Executive will review and either approve or reject the shopping cart.  If the  transaction does not meet the threshold this step is skipped. 

Step 5 (Financial Office Approval): In this step the Financial Assistant (for transactions less than  $10,000) or the Financial Officer (for transactions greater than $10,000) will review and either  approve or reject the shopping cart. 

Step 6 (Post Financial Approvals): Based on data provided by the shopper in the shopping cart, the cart may travel through post financial approvals.  For example, if hazardous materials are indicated on the shopping cart, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) will be included in the approval path of the cart.  

Once the shopping cart has been approved through all the steps the cart is considered an “Approved” shopping cart.  An approved shopping cart is now able to be converted into a Purchase Order by Central Procurement and issued to the supplier. The Purchase order process will be discussed in a separate article. 

Exceptions to the Approval Path 

There are some exceptions and shortcuts that a shopping cart may take through the approval path.  Let’s briefly review these situations. 

Lion Marketplace shopping carts:  Shopping carts that are ordered by shoppers with spend  preauthorization from the Lion Marketplace punch-out catalogs will bypass steps 1, 3, 4, & 5 as  long as the shopping cart value is within their preauthorized limit. 

Penn State Contract Orders: Orders purchased on a Penn State Contract that is posted in Shop  OnLion may skip step 1 of the shopping cart approval process. 

Approval and Rejection of the Shopping Cart 

Shopping Carts can be approved or rejected by the approver once they complete their review of the cart.  Any time a cart is rejected it returns to the shopper to make any corrections or additions before re-submitting.  This occurs because approvers have very limited access to the cart and are not allowed (in most situations) to make changes to the cart – therefore only the shopper who submitted the cart can make the corrections.  A re-submitted cart will restart the approval process at the beginning of the process, not at the last completed step.   

In Conclusion... 

We’ve reviewed the shopping cart approval steps and their purpose as well as some exceptions to the approval path and what happens when a cart is rejected.  The shopping cart approval process can seem lengthy, and it sometimes can take time.  Procurement recommends starting your procurement process as early as you know you are wanting to make the purchase so that processing time can be considered.  If you have questions about the approval process or where a particular cart may be in the process, you can reach out to the purchasing contact responsible for the cart.