Purchase Order Management software serves to proactively manage purchasing workflows and the operational overhead incurred when businesses acquire goods and services. A purchase order is an official document that validates the purchase of goods and services and legally binds the buyer and seller.
The purchase order management process consists of multiple stages of compliance checks and approvals for efficient PO resolutions as detailed below:
1. Requisition: An internal requisition is created, and the on-hand inventory is assessed and approved within the organization before a PO is generated to be sent to the vendor.
2. Creation: The requisition gives the buyer a clear idea about the goods and services required, and this information is communicated to the vendor through the creation of a purchase order.
3. Confirmation: If the details in the PO are in agreement with the conditions detailed by the vendor, i.e., the purchase amount, regulations, company policies, etc., the procurement officers and other stakeholders approve the PO.
4. Dispatch: After the PO is approved, it is dispatched to various vendors who submit bids. The buyer selects a bid based on the price, quality, support, and specifications that meet their requirements.
5. Contract: The buyer and the selected vendor proceed to draft a contract containing appropriate terms and conditions for the purchase.
6. Delivery: The goods and services are delivered by the vendor along with an invoice.
7. Three-way Match: The buyer verifies whether the terms and charges contained in the PO, the vendor invoice, and the receiving report coincide. The receiving report is the buyer's confirmation of receiving the agreed-upon goods and services.
8. Closure: Following the approval of the three-way match, the payment is recorded and the PO is closed.
The process of Purchase Order Management involves several stages, and if completed inefficiently using time-consuming manual methods, invites the potential for human error. For smaller organizations, these do not seem like major problems, but as a business scales, these issues become magnified and remediation becomes a cost-intensive endeavor.
The right purchase order management software addresses these issues beforehand, and benefit an organization in a number of ways, including:
- Customized Workflows: Automated digital solutions combined with efficiency-oriented procurement can enhance performance with customizations that fit the organization's specific needs.
- Operational Reports: Comprehensive reports can be generated to show POs with currency details for the order, exchange rates, customs, and freight fees.
- Design Standard Procedures: With PO management software, organizations have the capability to formulate a standard set of guidelines and create templates for best practices and technical solutions for procurement stakeholders.
- Get Supplier Insights: Trustworthy insights regarding suppliers' KPIs can be aggregated. Statistical analytics of vendor transactions can be used for making optimal choices.
Within an organization, a purchase order may be used for several reasons; it may be a repeat of a past order, an offer from a vendor, or other negotiations related to inventory. Depending upon the procurement process, the vendor's conditions, and payment terms, POs fall into one of the following categories:
1. Standard PO: These are the most typical kinds of purchase orders, providing specifics on the products or services being bought, their amount, their cost, and any other pertinent terms and conditions.
2. Planned PO: A planned PO is more comprehensive than a standard PO, in that it shows the full details of the goods and services to be purchased. The price, quantity, and tentative delivery dates are included.
3. Blanket PO: Blanket POs are not one-time transactions, but rather purchase orders for a group of items or services that will be acquired over time.
4. Contract PO: Contract POs are purchase orders that serve to formally document a deal between the supplier and the buyer, which could also contain more specific terms and conditions like delivery dates and warranties.
5. Emergency PO: These are purchase orders that are generated in an emergency or other sudden requirement to quickly acquire goods or services.
While POs are critical to business functions, their potential is often underestimated. Data on POs can determine a company's overall performance, providing a complete understanding of the company's products and services, as well as potential changes or improvements. POs can also provide a company with the following:
- Single Source of Truth: As a Single-Source-of-Truth (SSoT), the PO enables collaboration and improved accessibility to purchase order management solutions and the data associated with purchase orders.
- Avoiding Stockouts: Updated POs enable automation of the restocking process so that the supplier receives a PO before the inventory is exhausted.
- Clarity on Size and Scope: Data on the volume of available resources, the prices of purchased items, etc. allow the organization to better determine the scope of scalability.
- Control of Expenditure: Set limits on the amount that can be spent on a particular purchase, reviewing and approving all purchase orders before they are finalized.
- Improved Productivity: By keeping track of the POs, many of the tasks involved in managing the purchasing operation can be expedited, increasing productivity across an organization.
The standard PO goes through several steps of the procurement process, including approvals and change requests, and is often marred by challenges along the way. These are often caused by inaccuracies in allocation, delays in approvals, and a general lack of communication. These challenges can include:
- Bad Contract Tracking: Most leading organizations still implement manual methods for tracking agreements. Agreements contain details about a variety of contracts, payment schedules, pricing, and procurement durations. Issuing POs when contracts are not properly tracked can cause serious compliance challenges.
- Dark Purchasing: When goods and services purchased cannot be justified using capital outlay or material inventory, it is known as dark purchasing. Following such a transaction, issuing a fresh PO can be challenging and can also result in a loss of revenue which is difficult to recover from.
- Data Inaccuracy: The smallest mistakes in the procurement records and missing data can lead to POs, deals, clients, and vendor relationships falling through.
- Supply Risks: Risks related to the supply of goods and services such as market risk, delivery fraud, cost, and quality may lead to hurdles in PO issuance.
- Policy Non-Compliance: Disregard or noncompliance with policies, lack of anti-corruption measures, and deficiency of a policy team altogether may cause hindrances in issuing POs. Vendors tend to not respond if there are policy conflicts in the procurement process at an organization acting as a buyer.