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Cross-Object field updates using workflow from an approval process

I am working on establishing an approval process for checking out demo units from a library.  The functionality I am looking for is the ability to update several fields on the "demo unit" object with data from the "demo request" object automatically when the demo request is approved.


I can create a field update from the set-up menu that will do this with Sp'09, but I can't seem to associate it with a specific approval process.  When I try to create the field update within the approval process, I can't choose which object to act on, so I am only able to update fields on the "demo request" object.


Is the descrepency between field updates from the set-up menu and field updates in the approval process an oversight?


Is there a way for me to update the fields without using a trigger?



Thank you.