Mastering Purchase Order Approvals

December 13, 2021

If you are new to the e-procurement field, or you’re a fast-moving company looking for ways to get control of all your business purchases, a purchase approval process may be just what you’ve been looking for. 

In this article, you’ll learn about purchasing approval processes and how you can create and customize your own to your business’s unique needs. You’ll also find helpful templates to help you master purchasing in your organization today.

The Crucial Role of a Purchase Order Template in Business Efficiency

In the fast-paced world of business, precision and efficiency are paramount. This is where a Purchase Order Template in word processing software plays a vital role for companies. This seemingly simple document is the linchpin of successful procurement, ensuring that orders are clear, organized, and compliant with company policies.

Through the use of a Purchase Order Template, companies can streamline their purchasing processes, reducing the risk of errors and misunderstandings. It serves as a standardized blueprint, guiding employees through the procurement process and facilitating communication between departments.

Furthermore, this template helps businesses maintain a comprehensive record of their purchases, promoting transparency and accountability. It becomes invaluable during audits, budget planning, and vendor negotiations.

The Significance of Purchase Orders in approval process

Harnessing the efficiency of purchase orders templates is akin to setting a foundational pillar for your hardware startup's procurement processes. A well-structured template provides a standardized format and ensures consistency in capturing vital order details. With the dynamism that hardware startups usually display, any tool that fosters streamlined, repeatable, and error-free operations is invaluable. When embedded within an automated purchase order system, such templates become the bedrock for speed, accuracy, and scalability. While automation with a purchase order software (AKA purchasing software) is the engine driving the procurement car, the purchase orders template is the blueprint, ensuring the vehicle is built to perfection. Try our free Purchase Order Template and streamline your Procurement Process!

The Power of Purchase Order Tracking

Purchase order tracking is a pivotal aspect of procurement, ensuring efficiency, transparency, and cost control. It entails monitoring the entire lifecycle of purchase orders, from creation to fulfillment and payment. The significance of purchase order tracking in procurement becomes evident through several vital benefits:

1. Visibility and Accountability: Tracking purchase orders grants real-time visibility into order statuses, fostering accountability among suppliers and buyers, thus mitigating the risk of errors and disputes.

2. Budget Control: This tool enables organizations to maintain budgetary control by monitoring spending against approved purchase orders, thus preventing overspending and facilitating well-informed financial decisions.

3. Supplier Performance Evaluation: Purchase order tracking aids in evaluating supplier performance, allowing organizations to identify reliable suppliers and address issues with underperforming ones, ultimately enhancing supplier relationships.

4. Efficient Workflow: By streamlining the procurement workflow, purchase order tracking ensures prompt order processing, reducing delays and minimizing disruptions caused by late or missing supplies.

5. Compliance and Audit Trail: Maintaining comprehensive purchase order records ensures compliance with regulatory requirements and provides an audit trail for both internal and external audits, ensuring transparency and accountability.

6. Forecasting and Planning: Historical purchase order data proves invaluable for future procurement planning, enabling organizations to make data-driven decisions, optimize inventory levels, and negotiate better terms with suppliers.

7. Reduced Errors: Tracking purchase orders helps detect discrepancies and errors early in the process, lowering the risk of incorrect shipments, billing discrepancies, or missing items.

Purchase order tracking is an indispensable tool for effective procurement management. It empowers organizations to optimize their procurement processes, exercise budgetary control, nurture supplier relationships, and ultimately contribute to overall business success.

What is a purchase order?

A purchase order is a business document that is used to request the purchase of specific items from a vendor. The document lists each item that the buyer proposes to purchase, along with the per-unit and total per-item price, the delivery address, and the expected date of delivery.

Purchase orders are fairly standard across industries; however, there are four kinds of purchase orders that are used for different situations. A standard PO, which contains the most information, is commonly used for one-off or infrequent purchases. A contract PO, which does not contain specific item, pricing, or delivery information, could be used in a long-term vendor/buyer agreement. 

Keep in mind that a purchase order is not the same as a purchase requisition, which is a purchase approval form employees typically submit to a purchasing manager or other internal decision-maker. The distinction between purchase requisition vs purchase order is pivotal in the procurement process. A purchase requisition represents the initial step where a need or request for goods and services is identified internally.

This document essentially seeks permission to proceed with a purchase. On the other hand, a purchase order is the formal confirmation of this request to an external vendor, detailing the specifics of the purchase, including quantities, prices, and other terms. Recognizing the significance of this distinction ensures clarity in the procurement cycle, with each document playing a unique and essential role. If the internal decision-maker approves the purchase requisition, they then generate and submit the purchase order to the vendor.

What is a purchase order approval process?

A purchase order (PO) approval process is the specific sequence of steps that are required for a requester (typically an employee, but this can be any authorized buyer) to obtain approval for the purchase of items needed in the course of business, including managing the PO number. This includes steps that may not involve the requester, such as purchase requisition review and approval, purchase order (PO) submission, vendor fulfillment and delivery, and purchasing department tracking and payment.

Why set up a purchase order approval process?

If you are new to purchasing approval systems - particularly if you own a fast-moving company - the idea may seem cumbersome. Getting clear on your purchasing process flow chart, though, can provide you and your company with significant benefits. 

By creating and fine-tuning a purchase order process flowchart, you can shorten the time for employees to receive purchase order approvals, which means they can get their needed items more quickly and with fewer hassles. 

This means that employees are far less likely to bypass your purchasing process and purchase items with company credit cards. You get better control of where your company’s money is going, and fewer surprises when it comes to business expenses. 

Employees feel more empowered to help your organization succeed as well. This is especially true when your approval process centers around an automated purchasing platform like ControlHub, which allows employees to quickly request needed items knowing that they’ll receive fast approvals. 

How to set up a purchase order approval workflow

There are several steps involved in creating an approval workflow that functions efficiently, requires little time from busy managers and executives, and protects your company’s budget: 

  • Take inventory of your purchasing needs - if you own a small startup, your purchases may be sporadic. A growing company, though, will have to navigate ever-changing purchasing needs. Map out your growth for 3-5 years to anticipate your long-term buying needs. 
  • Identify stakeholders and approval managers - which people will be affected by which purchases? Do some teams need more approval managers than others? Are there special circumstances that would require an internal or external expert’s insights? 
  • Determine how requests will be submitted, routed to the correct approver, and reviewed for approval or disapproval. An automated platform like ControlHub can simplify this process by letting you set custom rules to automatically forward certain requests to certain reviewers. 
  • Set a benchmark for request review. Employees who have to wait for days or weeks for approvals are more likely to “go rogue” and simply charge purchases on their company credit cards. Aim for a turnaround time that everyone can live with - 24 hours, for example - and make sure your approvers deliver approvals in that timeframe. 
  • Document how purchase orders will be generated, submitted, tracked, and paid. Just as it’s important to document a step-by-step process for employees to submit requests, it’s just as important for purchasing managers to have a consistent system for placing orders and keeping track of purchases. 
  • Document approval process example scenarios - including complex situations that could involve multiple departments - so that employees and approvers can better understand how your process works.
  • Be open to ideas. The perfect purchasing approval system today might not work as well for you a year from now. Encourage and listen to input from your employees, purchasing approvers, and vendors to fine-tune your process. Every improvement you make could save your company money and empower employees to generate better results. 

Not all approval processes are created equal, though. Check the article linked next, you’ll discover the steps to an efficient approval matrix, which can help save your company money.

What is the ideal purchase order process flowchart?

In a perfect world, the same purchase order process would be perfect for every business. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. A purchase order approval workflow that works excellently for a company in one industry could be completely inappropriate for another. The vendor approval format, likewise, may vary from industry to industry.

Want to make procurement even simpler? Find out how ControlHub’s simple, automated platform is helping businesses take control of their purchasing expenses today.

Sales Orders vs. Purchase Orders: Key Distinctions for Business Success

Sales orders and purchase orders are fundamental documents in the world of business, each playing a distinct role in the supply chain. Sales orders represent the demand side of the equation, initiated by customers when they want to purchase goods or services from your company. These orders outline the specifics of what a customer needs and when they need it. On the other hand, purchase orders are generated by your company when you intend to buy goods or services from suppliers. They detail what you require, terms of the purchase, and when you need it.

Understanding the importance of these documents is crucial. Sales orders help your business manage customer demand, ensuring you fulfill orders accurately and on time. They also serve as a basis for revenue recognition, helping you track your sales performance. Meanwhile, purchase orders are vital for managing your supply chain efficiently. They allow you to control costs, negotiate favorable terms with suppliers, and maintain inventory levels that meet demand without overstocking.

What Are Purchase Order Terms and Conditions?

Purchase order terms and conditions are the contractual clauses and stipulations that govern the buyer-supplier relationship during a purchase transaction. They outline the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of both parties, establishing a clear framework for the purchase.

Key Components of Purchase Order Terms and Conditions:

Payment Terms: This section specifies how and when payments will be made, including details such as payment methods, due dates, and currency.

Delivery Terms: These terms outline how and when the goods or services will be delivered, including shipping methods, delivery dates, and any associated costs.

Product Specifications: Detailed descriptions of the products or services being purchased, including quantity, quality standards, and any applicable warranties.

Pricing: The agreed-upon prices for the products or services, including any discounts, taxes, or additional fees.

Cancellation and Returns: Guidelines for canceling or returning orders, along with any associated penalties or restocking fees.

Intellectual Property: If relevant, this section addresses the ownership and usage rights of intellectual property associated with the purchase.

Dispute Resolution: Procedures for resolving disputes between the buyer and the supplier, often through negotiation, mediation, or arbitration.

Confidentiality: Protection of sensitive information shared during the transaction, ensuring it remains confidential.

The Role of Procurement Software:

Automation: Procurement software streamlines the process of generating purchase orders and ensures that the relevant terms and conditions are automatically included. This minimizes errors and saves time.

Compliance: Procurement software can help ensure your purchase orders comply with industry regulations and your organization's internal policies.

Visibility: By storing purchase order terms and conditions digitally, procurement software makes it easy to access and reference them when needed, promoting transparency.

Auditing: These systems record of all purchase orders and their associated terms and conditions, aiding in audits and compliance checks.

Benefits of Properly Managed Purchase Order Terms and Conditions:

Risk Mitigation: Defined terms and conditions reduce the risk of disputes and legal issues, protecting your organization from potential financial and reputational damage.

Cost Control: Properly negotiated terms can lead to cost savings through favorable pricing, discounts, and payment terms.

Supplier Relations: Well-structured terms and conditions foster positive relationships with suppliers, enhancing collaboration and reliability.

Efficiency: Procurement software ensures that terms and conditions are consistently applied across all purchase orders, reducing manual effort and ensuring accuracy.

Streamlining the Order to Cash Process: Enhancing Efficiency and Revenue Growth

The Order to Cash (O2C) process is a fundamental business workflow that plays a pivotal role in the success of any organization. It encompasses the entire journey of a customer's order, from the initial request to the final payment receipt. This process is of paramount importance as it directly impacts revenue generation and customer satisfaction.

The O2C process typically involves several key steps:

1. Order Creation: It starts with a customer placing an order, through various sales channels or directly with the company.

2. Order Processing: Once received, the order is validated, and inventory availability is checked. Any necessary approvals are obtained, and the order is prepared for fulfillment.

3. Fulfillment: This phase involves picking, packing, and shipping the products or services to the customer. Accurate and efficient fulfillment is critical to meeting customer expectations.

4. Invoicing: An invoice is generated based on the order, detailing the products or services provided, their quantities, and the agreed-upon prices. This is a crucial step in revenue recognition.

5. Payment Processing: After receiving the invoice, the customer makes payment using their chosen method, which may include credit cards, checks, or online payment systems.

6. Cash Application: The received payments are matched with the corresponding invoices and applied to the customer's account. This step ensures accurate financial record-keeping.

7. Collections: In delayed payments or disputes, organizations may need to engage in collections activities to secure outstanding funds.

8. Reporting and Analysis: Throughout the O2C process, data is collected and analyzed to monitor performance, identify bottlenecks, and make informed decisions for process improvement.

Efficiency and accuracy in the O2C process are vital for maintaining cash flow, reducing operational costs, and fostering positive customer relationships. Automation, integrated software solutions, and data-driven insights are increasingly utilized to streamline and optimize this process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a purchase order?

A purchase order is a business document that allows you to request specific items from a vendor. It includes details such as item descriptions, prices, delivery address, and expected delivery date. Think of it as your shopping list on steroids!

Why do I need a purchase order approval process?

A purchase order approval process streamlines your purchasing operations and brings several benefits. It reduces approval times, making it faster for employees to get the items they need. It provides better control and overview of expenses, ensuring surprises are minimized. Additionally, it empowers employees by giving them confidence that their requests will be swiftly approved.

What are the different types of purchase orders?

There are two main types of purchase orders: standard PO and contract PO. The standard PO is used for one-off or occasional purchases, while the contract PO establishes a long-term agreement with a vendor. It's important not to confuse the purchase order with a purchase requisition, which is the form employees fill out for approval before a purchase order is created.

How do I set up a purchase order approval workflow?

Setting up a purchase order approval workflow involves several steps. First, take inventory of your purchasing needs. Next, identify stakeholders and approval managers. Determine how requests will be submitted and routed to the right approver. Set a benchmark for request reviews to ensure a quick turnaround time. Document the process for submitting requests and tracking purchases. Finally, be open to feedback and continuously improve the system based on input from employees, approvers, and vendors.

How can automation help with purchase order approvals?

Automation, such as the ControlHub platform, can greatly simplify and streamline the purchase order approval process. It allows you to create custom rules and automate the routing of requests to the appropriate approver. Automation reduces manual tasks, saves time, and ensures a consistent and efficient workflow. ControlHub's automated platform revolutionizes the way businesses handle their purchasing expenses, taking control to the next level of simplicity.

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Purchase Order vs Invoice: Are they the same?

A purchase order is a commercialprocurement document that is created by a business’ purchasing department whenplacing an order with its vendors and/or suppliers. The document specifies thedetails on the desired items (type of goods, quantity, and price). An invoiceis a time-stamped commercial document that details and records a transactionbetween a buyer and a seller. If goods or services were purchased on credit,the invoice usually details the terms of the agreement and provides informationon the available payment methods.

What is an electronic purchase order?

An electronicpurchase order is the same as a traditional purchase order, except that it isnot placed on paper. It is a digital document that outlines the line items inan order, the terms and conditions both the buyer and seller must adhere to,pricing, delivery, and other information you'd expect to find on a PO.

What’s order time?

Order time or purchasing lead time starts when the goods or services are ordered and ends when they arereceived. This lead time includes availability confirmation, ordering,order acknowledgement, shipping notice, receipt of goods or service, invoice recordingand payment.

What is a Purchase Order book?

Purchase Order Book shows a summaryof all purchase orders. You can view a list of all the purchase orders untilthe date of last order entered.

What’s a PO system?

A purchase order (PO) system is an automated digital tool that creates numerous purchase agreements between your online store and manufacturers, distributors,or suppliers. This system simplifies how you order stock for your store, giving you simple concrete options for creating a purchase order to send to your supplier.

 If you are looking to step up your procurement game consider signing the services of Control Hub, this software will cover many of your needs, including acting as a PO system for small businesses.


What’s the purpose of a Purchase Order?

Apurchase order is a commercial procurement document that is created by abusiness purchasing department when placing an order with its vendors and/orsuppliers. The document specifies the details on the desired items (type ofgoods, quantity, and price).

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