Manage approval workflow and policies

Bill.com's approval customizations help you maintain separation of duties and reduce potential fraud by allowing you to control which bills need approval, by whom, and when, based on business need.

Note: Administrators can pay unapproved bills, even if an approval policy is in place, as long as those bills have the required approvers assigned.

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Bill approvals

Users with appropriate permissions can view bill approval options in settings. Only Administrators or users with custom roles that include permissions to edit company preferences can manage Approval preferences and policies.

  1. Select Settings
  2. Select Bill Approvals under Payables
  3. Select Edit
  4. Select the settings to apply (described in detail below)
  5. Select Save


Permissions by role

Permission Administrator Approver Auditor Payer Clerk Accountant
Approve bills/vendor credits Yes Yes No No No Yes
Pay approved bills Yes No No Yes No No
Pay unassigned bills Yes No No No No No
Pay unapproved bills Yes No No No No No
Manage approval preferences and policies Yes No No No No No

When changes are allowed

Decide if changes are allowed on bills and vendor credits during or after they are approved.

  • Changes are not allowed: You cannot make changes to bills or credits if any approvers have already approved them
    • If you need to change an approved bill or vendor credit, you will need to delete it and create a new bill or credit
  • Allowed until every approver has approved: If bills or credits have multiple approvers, you can make changes to them until all approvers have approved them
    • If you edit a bill or credit while it is going through an approval chain, a notification banner on the bill or credit will appear, and edited fields will be highlighted
  • Allowed anytime: You can make changes to bills or credits at any time until you pay the bill or apply the credit
    • Once you pay a bill or apply a vendor credit, only a limited number of fields are editable
    • If you edit a bill or credit while it is going through an approval chain, or after it is approved, a notification banner on the bill or credit will appear, and edited fields will be highlighted


When bills can be paid

Decide if bills will require approval before you pay them.

Reminder: Administrators can pay unapproved bills, even if an approval policy is in place, as long as those bills have the required approvers assigned.

  • Bills are routed for approval and are ready to be paid when approved: This setting will ensure that Payers cannot pay a bill that has not been fully approved. Also, we will not notify Payers that it's time to pay bills until they are fully approved.
    • Users with "Pay unapproved bills via Bill.com" and/or the "Pay unassigned bills via Bill.com" permissions - Administrators and Custom user roles - can pay any bill, regardless of its approval status even if you enable this setting.
  • Bills don't need approval and are ready to be paid once entered into Bill.com: This setting allows you to pay bills as soon as you create them; no approvals are needed.

By default, this setting is set to Bills are routed for approval and are ready to be paid when approved.

Default Approvers

  • Choose up to 3 default approvers
  • Choose to have these approvers auto-fill on future bills or bills without any approver
  • Approvers will be listed on bills in order selected

Approvals: Things to know

  • Administrators can pay unapproved bills, even if an approval policy is in place, as long as those bills have the required approvers assigned.
  • Approval settings are global for all bills
  • Changing the setting will not apply retroactively to previously created bills and vendor credits and will only apply to future bills/vendor credits
  • Approval status does not sync to or from accounting software

Approval policies

You can set up policies to require approvers for any bill or vendor credit, based on the dollar amount. You can require a minimum number of approvers, specific approvers, or both.

Reminder: Administrators can pay unapproved bills, as long as those bills have the required approvers assigned.

If you create a bill or vendor credit and try to save without the approvers listed on the policy, if the amount falls within your set policy, you will not be able to save the bill or credit. An error message will tell you the current policy being applied, and which approvers are required.

Create a policy

  1. Select Settings
  2. Select Bill Approvals under Payables
  3. Select New next to Policies
  4. Select the settings to apply
    • For:
      • Bills
      • Vendor Credits
    • Greater than or equal to - dollar amount to require approvers
    • Number of approvers - minimum who must approve
    • Mandatory - If specific approvers are required, assign them in the order they need to approve here
    • This setting is not required, if not specified any necessary approvers can be assigned to bills
  5. Select Save

Note: Selecting mandatory approvers does not assign the approvers to bills. The approvers will still need to be manually assigned by the bill creator or you will not be able to save the bill or credit. An error message will tell you the current policy being applied, and which approvers are required.

  • Once approvers are assigned to a bill for a specific vendor, Smart Data will automatically assign those same approvers on the next bill for the same vendor.

Approval Policies: Things to know

  • The order of approvers you assign to a bill must match the order of the mandatory approvers listed within any policy
  • All approvers you add to a bill must approve the bill for it to be considered "Approved" and the bill must be approved in the order of the listed approvers
  • Editing or deleting a policy will only apply to future bills/vendor credits. Changes are not retroactive.
  • Administrators can pay unapproved bills, as long as those bills have the required approvers assigned.
  • Approval policies also apply to bills marked as paid outside of Bill.com.

Approval groups

Approval groups are a designated group of approvers you setup and assign to bills or policies, then any one of those approvers in the group can approve the bill. You can use approval groups, single-user approvers, or a combination of both. Once one approver from the group has approved, the bill is routed to the next approver/approval group, or is marked as approved if no more approvers are listed.

Create an approval group:

  1. Select Settings
  2. Select Approval Groups
  3. Select New
  4. Enter the approval group Name
  5. Enter an optional Description
  6. Select Save
  7. Check the Select box for all approvers you'd like in the approval group
  8. Select Save

Approval Groups: Things to Know

  • You can add unlimited users to an approval group
    • Users can be in multiple groups
    • A group cannot contain another group
  • You can select approver groups when
    • Selecting approvers on a bill
    • Creating an approval policy
    • Selecting default approvers in settings
  • An approval group's name will be listed on the Overview and Approvals pages, in place of the approver user's name. You can hover over the group name to see a list of the first 3 members, and select to see them all
  • Approval groups assigned to a bill will show 3-4 approver names by default, depending on character length. Select the "X more" link to see the full list of users in the group
  • When a member of an approval group approves a bill, the bill will show the name of the member who approved, under the approval group name
  • Approval notification emails will go out to all approvers in the group at the same time (based on their bills to approve email preference) and an action item will be added to their to-do lists
  • As soon as any 1 user in a group approves a bill, the to-do list item for that bill is removed from all users in that group
  • The bill's audit trail will show the user who approved the bill but not that they were part of a group
  • Adding or removing a user from the group will apply retroactively to bills assigned to that group
  • Any new user added to a group will have a to do list item but will not get email notifications for bills the group was already assigned to. They will receive notification on future assigned bills
  • If a group is inactivated, there will be a Fix Record to do item for administrator users to fix the bills the deleted group was assigned to
  • If all users in an approval group are inactivated, the approval group will be inactivated
    • If the inactivated approval group is assigned to a bill(s), the bill(s) will be routed to the next approver(s) in line, and a Fix Record to do item will be added to Administrator users' to do lists to remove the group
    • An email will go out to all users with manage company permissions, informing them that an approval group has been deactivated since all users in the group are inactive

Disable approvals

If you no longer want new bills to require approval before you pay them, you can disable approvals.

Note: If you disable an approval policy, any bills you created while that policy was active will still need to be approved based on the active policy at the time you created the bills.

Disable an approval policy

  1. Select Settings
  2. Select Bill Approvals under Payables
  3. Select a policy name
  4. Select the trash can to disable

Disable all approvals

  1. Select Settings
  2. Select Bill Approvals under Payables
  3. Select Edit
  4. Select Bills don't need approval and are ready to be paid once entered into Bill.com.
  5. Select Save