Streamlining Your Purchasing with Purchase Order Processes

15 - March - 2023

Are you tired of wasting the time and resources of your businesses due to inefficient purchase order processes? Do you want to gain control and insight into your purchasing decisions? We are right here to help you!

In this article, we'll dive into the critical role that purchase order processes play in business success and provide some best practices for creating a consistent and reliable PO workflow.

Whether you have a small business or work as a manager in a large corporation, this article will help you streamline your purchasing process, understand its benefits for your business(both small scale and large scale) while avoiding common mistakes that can bring down your efficient operational levels.

Let's get started!


What is a Purchase Order?

A purchase order refers to a formal document that verifies the purchase with all the important purchase-related details. The buyer delivers it to the supplier. The purchase order is a binding contract once the supplier has approved it. As a result, if one of them fails to fulfill their obligations, it can safeguard both a buyer and a seller.

A purchase order process flowchart typically contains the following elements:

● Information on a supplier and a customer

● Information about the order, including the description, number, and cost

● Information on payments and their conditions

● Method of shipping (if applicable)

● Date of the order and the PO number

● Address and time of delivery

● Billing address


What is the Purchase Order Process?

Purchase orders (POs) are essential for businesses to keep track of their requested goods or services. Managers can manage their orders more effectively by using POs, which give them access to crucial information like quantity, delivery instructions, cost, terms, and the due date.

The purchase order process includes the steps involved in creating, reviewing, validating, managing, and tracking POs. This procedure begins with discovering a need and lasts until the delivery or sale of the requested goods. Businesses can streamline their operations and make wise purchasing decisions by adhering to a systematic PO process that guarantees they will receive the right products or services at the right time and price.


Elements of Purchase Order Process

1. Creation of Purchase Orders

2. Approval of Purchase Orders

3. Transmission of Purchasing Orders

4. Binding Contract

5. Goods Delivery and Invoice Issuing

6. 3-Way Matching

7. Record Keeping


What are the Purchase Order Process’s Steps?

Creation of Purchase Orders

The first step is to generate a purchase request to initiate the purchase order process. It involves gathering key information such as the item or service to be purchased, the urgency of the requisition, the budget allocation, the desired delivery date, the approval process, and the potential suppliers.

To facilitate an efficient approval process, it's crucial to make sure the purchase request contains all the necessary information. The quantity, description, and quality requirements of the requested good or service, as well as any particular delivery guidelines or conditions, may all be included in this.

Moreover, depending on the scope and difficulty of the order, several people or divisions within the company may need to review and approve the purchase request. Businesses can speed up the approval procedure and prevent delays in acquiring the required goods or services by supplying all the pertaining details.

Approval of Purchase Orders

Once a purchase order (PO) has been created, it undergoes an approval process, which is reviewed by relevant authorities to ensure it aligns with the organization's policies and budget. The PO may be modified if necessary to incorporate any changes or updates.

The approval workflow for a PO varies depending on the company's policies and procedures. Typically, the PO must be reviewed and approved by several individuals or departments before it is forwarded to the supplier. It ensures that the purchase is necessary and that the requested goods or services meet the organization's quality standards and budget allocation.

One of the most critical stages in the approval process is obtaining approval from the financial director or designated financial authority to purchase in line with the company's financial policies. Adequate funds are available to cover the cost.

By implementing a robust approval workflow, businesses keep an eye on the authorization of purchase orders, minimizing the risk of unauthorized purchases or overspending and ultimately improving the efficiency of their procurement process.

Transmission of Purchase Orders

The business can issue the relevant paperwork to the suppliers whenever a purchase order (PO) has been approved. At this point, the business has decided which suppliers it will work with. Typically, a PO is issued electronically, through email, or through online channels for procurement.

Binding Contract

Before approving a purchase order, a vendor may request modifications to the terms and conditions specified in the document. However, once the supplier confirms the PO issued by the buyer, it becomes a legally binding agreement between the two parties, outlining the agreed-upon terms and conditions for the transaction.

It is important for both parties to carefully review and agree to the terms of the purchase order before confirming to avoid any potential misunderstandings or disputes down the line.

Goods Delivery and Invoice Issuance

The supplier will then start producing and delivering the specified items according to the schedule and shipping requirements outlined in the agreement. Once the goods are received, your company will inspect them to ensure the quality matches the expected standards.

If there are any discrepancies, the supplier should be promptly notified to rectify the situation. Subsequently, the supplier will issue an invoice to the purchasing company detailing the price and payment terms of the transaction. Both parties must maintain open communication lines and adhere to the agreed-upon terms and conditions to ensure a smooth and successful business transaction.

3-Way Matching

Once the delivered items meet the necessary requirements, the customer will issue a goods received note (GRN) or other documentation to confirm delivery.

Subsequently, a three-way matching process is carried out, which involves comparing the goods receipt, the purchase order (PO), and the received invoice. This process is crucial in ensuring that the company only pays for the goods and services it ordered and received, thereby avoiding any potential discrepancies.

The three-way matching process is a key control measure in the procurement cycle and helps to prevent errors such as overbilling or paying for goods that were not received. By carefully comparing the details of the goods receipt, PO, and invoice, any inconsistencies can be identified and promptly resolved before payment is made.

Overall, a successful three-way matching process is crucial for effective financial management and helps to maintain a healthy supplier relationship.

Record Keeping

If the data on all three documents matches, that is, the goods receipt, purchase order, and received invoice, the confirmed invoice is then sent to the finance department for payment processing.

Once the payment has been made, the purchasing company can close the purchase order and file it along with the invoice for future record-keeping purposes.

Efficient record-keeping is crucial for tracking the company's procurement activities, managing inventory, and identifying any potential discrepancies that may arise in the future.

By keeping an organized record of purchase orders and invoices, businesses can easily reference past transactions, track expenses, and make informed decisions about future procurement activities.


Why Do Businesses Need a Purchase Order Process?

The procurement cycle's purchase order (PO) process is essential because it acts as a formal contract between the buyer and the supplier. Some of the principal advantages of a purchase order process in the procurement process include the following:

● Clear Communication: By capturing the terms and conditions of the purchase, such as the volume, price, shipping date, and payment plans, the PO process aids in ensuring direct understanding between the buyer and the supplier.

● Legal Protection: In case of any disagreements or discrepancies that might occur during or after the transaction, the PO process offers legal protection to both the buyer and the supplier.

● Cost management: By determining the cost and the number of products and services, the PO process aids in cost management.

● Inventory control: By enabling the buyer to monitor the progress of their orders and make plans for upcoming purchases, the PO process aids in inventory control.

● Payment Processing: By establishing a formal and understandable agreement on payment terms, the PO process aids in the smooth processing of payments.


Benefits of a Digital Purchase Order Process System

In order to optimize the PO process system, business can choose to opt for an automated system instead of the old manual one, that comes with the following benefits:

● Enhanced Efficiency: A digital system for processing purchase orders streamlines the entire buying process, saving time and effort on order management. Costs can be cut, and productivity can be increased as a result.

● Greater Accuracy: Using digital purchase orders eliminates the possibility of errors arising from incorrect data entry or misplaced documents, which can happen when using manual processes. Delays and rework may be less likely as a result of this.

● Enhanced Transparency: A digital purchase order system provides greater visibility into the procurement process, enabling stakeholders to monitor the progress of purchase orders in real time for reducing the risk of fraud and improving collaboration and communication between stakeholders.

● Improved Compliance: Digital purchase order systems can help organizations to comply with regulatory requirements, such as tax and audit requirements for reducing the risk of penalties or legal issues.

● Better Supplier Management: A digital purchase order system can help organizations manage their suppliers more effectively by providing insights into supplier performance, contract compliance, and spending. It can help organizations to optimize their procurement processes and reduce costs.


Summing Up!

We understand that managing the purchase order process can be daunting, especially when you consider the size of your company, the industry you operate in, and your specific needs. But don't worry; we've got your back!

Establishing a company-wide purchase order process flow is one best practice to ensure a smooth and efficient process. This helps ensure everyone involved in procurement knows their responsibilities and the steps involved in creating and approving purchase orders.

Utilizing procurement software to automate the purchase order process is another way to simplify your life. Increased transparency, appropriate approval routing, inventory, and budget control are advantages of automation. But its most important advantage is saving your employees time and effort.

By following these best practices, you can streamline your purchase order process and ensure your organization has a reliable and efficient procurement system. Keep the purchase order process from getting the best of you - take control and make it work for you!



Which department handles the creation of a purchase order?

Typically, a buyer, a procurement department representative, a financial manager, or an operations manager creates a purchase order.

What happens during the process of reconciling purchase orders?

It is the procedure for ending purchase orders that have been completely approved or whose due date has passed. In most cases, a procurement team creates a set of requirements for when purchase orders must be closed.

Can a purchase order be changed after it is issued?

Yes, a purchase order can be changed after it is issued, but it requires an amendment to the original document. It involves updating the quantities, prices, or delivery dates and requires buyer and supplier approval.

Who has the authority to approve a purchase order?

The approval process for purchase orders may vary among organizations, with larger companies often having a specific workflow for PO approvals. Usually, approval is required from the department head requesting the goods and the financial director. It is also important to note that suppliers must also confirm the PO and internal approvals.

What is the distinction between a purchase order and an invoice?

The key distinction is that a buyer creates a PO, whereas a supplier issues an invoice. In a supplier's request for goods or services, a buyer issues a PO to a supplier at the start of the purchasing process. On the other hand, a seller will send a buyer an invoice to request payment for the delivered goods shortly after the end of the purchase process.

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