These Workflow Best Practices Optimize the Purchase Order Process

Purchase orders are documents authorizing a purchase transaction. They include product descriptions, specifications, prices, quantities, dates, terms of payments and other conditions. 

Hand filling out purchase order

Automate purchase orders with a purchase order workflow and
you’ll save everyone time and frustration while saving your company money.

Using a workflow for purchase orders helps businesses monitor and manage procurement expenses and makes it easy to locate and correct things like duplicate orders. A strong purchase order workflow boosts company efficiency while helping it allocate resources optimally.

Depending on the size of the company, its budget, and how extensive its network of suppliers is, purchase order workflows may be simple or complex. Here’s how to optimize your purchase order workflow.

Evaluate Your Current Purchase Order Process

How do you handle purchase orders now? What kinds of problems do people experience when they want to order something, or when they’re called upon to approve or deny a purchase order? The people who work with purchase orders are your best sources for finding out where bottlenecks exist in the process. These same people often have good ideas of how to fix those bottlenecks. Listen to them.

Create Written Guidelines and Make Them Readily Accessible

When employees know what the rules and policies are around creating purchase orders, and when they know exactly what to do when they want to initiate a purchase order, you’re likelier to have a more efficient process and get consistent results. Accessible written policies help those initiating purchase orders and those approving them stay on the same page at all times.

Provide a Central Supplier Directory or Vendor Database

When the purchase order workflow uses a central supplier directory or an approved vendor database, it’s easier for everyone to complete purchase orders. The suppliers in such a directory or database should be known entities that you’ve had good experiences with before. Purchasers can choose a vendor confident in their ability to provide what is needed in a timely manner.

Have a Reasonable Authorization Process

Pending approval screen

The approval process for purchase orders shouldn’t be a secret.
Let users know what approvals are required and how to check the status of their purchase order.

The approval process should be neither too strict nor too lenient. If the approval process is draconian, it will take longer than necessary to receive products ordered. If the approval process is too lenient, you may face the problem of people ordering too many things or duplicating products and equipment that the company already has. How strict the approval process needs to be depends on factors like the size of typical purchase orders and your budget.

Use Budget-Driven Expense Constraints

Often, good purchase order workflow management means classifying products into categories like “equipment,” “office supplies,” and so on. Doing this helps you keep to your budgets for the various categories. You can also set caps on purchase orders and require additional authorizations for purchase orders exceeding threshold amounts that make sense for your business. A sub-process for making exceptions to budget caps can be created for extraordinary circumstances.

Make Workflow Status Accessible to Users

When someone initiates a purchase order, they will naturally want to know its status. When the purchase order workflow allows users to check on purchase order status at any point after initiating it, you cut down on phone calls inquiring about status, and the time involved in fielding them. Allowing visibility into the process can also help workflow managers assess workflows and identify inefficiencies or bottlenecks that can be engineered out of the workflow the next time it is updated. 

Creating purchase order workflows that make sense for your business requires workflow software that is powerful, easy to use, and customizable. PerfectForms answers these needs flawlessly. With it’s no-code interface that allows users to drag and drop workflow elements into place, creating a perfectly customized workflow for purchase orders or any other business process is straightforward and quick.

We encourage you to watch the PerfectForms demo video and see our workflow software in action. And if you have any questions, we invite you to contact us at any time. 

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