Purchase Order vs Requisition: Key Differences

Tori Katz
October 27, 2023

In the intricate realm of procurement and purchasing software, two central tools often emerge: purchase order software (representing PO) and purchase requisition software (representing PR). These terms, while they might sound analogous, cater to distinct stages in the procurement process. Adding to this, having a well-defined purchase approval system can further optimize how these tools are utilized. Comprehending the nuanced differences between purchase orders and purchase requisitions is vital for achieving streamlined and cost-effective procurement management. In this blog post, we'll journey through the intricacies of both, highlighting their principal characteristics, advantages, and the best scenarios for their application.

Introduction to Purchase Orders and Purchase Requisitions

In business, purchasing goods and services is a fundamental aspect of operations. Two essential terms that often come into play in this process are Purchase Orders (PO) and Purchase Requisitions (PR). These terms may seem similar, but they play distinct roles in managing purchases efficiently. Let's explain what these terms mean and how they can benefit your business.

Did you know ?

What is the purpose of a purchase order?

Buying Stuff Smartly

Purchase orders (POs) are like shopping lists for businesses. They're the paperwork that says, "Hey, we want this stuff from you." But they're not just about jotting down what's needed. POs help keep things organized and official when companies buy stuff from suppliers. Without them, it's like grocery shopping without a list - chaos.

Setting Clear Expectations

POs lay out the nitty-gritty details of a purchase. They list what's being bought, how much, and at what price. This clarity helps avoid confusion and disagreements later on. It's like making sure everyone's on the same page before the deal goes down.

Keeping Tabs on Spending

With POs, businesses can track their spending. They know where the money's going and how much is left in the budget. It's like balancing a checkbook, but for buying stuff for the company.

Staying on Top of Orders

POs help businesses stay organized. They know what's been ordered, when it's coming, and when it's paid for. This keeps things running smoothly and avoids last-minute scrambles. It's like having a schedule for all the deliveries coming in.

What is a Purchase Order?

A Purchase Order (PO) is like the GPS for your procurement process. It's a formal document issued by a buyer to a seller that provides a roadmap for a successful transaction. Within this document, you'll find critical information like what items are needed, how many, at what price, when they should be delivered, and how the payment should be made. Once the seller accepts the purchase order, it transforms into a legally binding contract, ensuring that both parties are on the same page and committed to fulfilling their obligations. Try our free Purchase Order Template and streamline your Procurement Process!

Key Features of Purchase Orders

Specificity: Orders are incredibly detailed, leaving no room for guesswork. Suppliers know exactly what's expected.

Legally Binding: The moment the supplier says, "Yes, we're in," it becomes a contract, safeguarding lawfully both parties.

Tracking: POs aren't just about paperwork; they help you keep tabs on your orders, ensuring they're on schedule.

Payment Reference: When the invoice arrives, the purchase order is your trusty reference guide, ensuring you're paying for what you've ordered.

 Benefits of Using Purchase Orders

Now that we've got a handle on what Purchase Orders (POs) are and how they work, let's dive into the juicy stuff—why they're so darn beneficial for your business.


Imagine your procurement process as a well-choreographed dance. Each step is carefully planned and executed, ensuring everything flows smoothly. That's precisely what POs bring to the table—control.

When you issue a purchase order, you're not just making a shopping list; you're setting clear guidelines for the entire procurement process. Suppliers know exactly what you need, how much, and when you need it. It's like telling a chef, "I want a cheeseburger with fries, medium-rare, and serve it at 7:30 PM." No room for confusion.

This control isn't just about making life easier for your suppliers; it's about ensuring you get what you paid for. If you ordered 100 widgets but received 99, your PO serves as your proof. You can say, "Hey, the PO clearly states 100. What's the deal?"


In the world of business, miscommunication is the enemy. It leads to wrong orders, missed deadlines, and headaches all around. POs are your trusty sidekicks in the battle against miscommunication.

Because they're detailed and specific, POs leave no room for ambiguity. You've got item descriptions, quantities, prices, delivery dates, and payment terms all neatly laid out. It's like sending a package with a GPS tracker. There's no way for things to go off course.

By using POs, you minimize the risk of errors and misunderstandings. Your suppliers know exactly what's expected, and you can rest easy knowing you'll get precisely what you asked for.

Record Keeping

Think of POs as the historians of your procurement process. They document every step, creating a paper trail that's invaluable for auditing and tracking.

When you issue a PO, you've got a timestamp of when the order was placed. When the supplier accepts it, that's another stamp. Then, when the goods or services are delivered, you've got yet another marker. It's like having a diary of your procurement journey.

This detailed record-keeping is a lifesaver when you need to look back and figure out what happened when. It's not just about keeping the financial folks happy during an audit; it's about having the information you need to make informed decisions and improve your procurement process over time.

Budget Management

Budgets are the backbone of your business. They keep you on track, ensuring you don't spend what you should. But without proper management, budgets can easily slip through your fingers.

This is where POs come to the rescue again. They're your budget buddies, helping you closely monitor your spending. When you issue a PO, you reserve a portion of your budget for that specific purchase. It's like putting that money in a locked box, ensuring it's there when the bill comes due.

You can monitor your spending in real-time as you receive invoices and make payments based on your POs. No more surprises at the end of the month, wondering where all your money went. POs help you stay in control, manage your budget effectively, and make those financial reports a breeze.

In a nutshell, Purchase Orders are your secret weapons for procurement success. They give you control, accuracy, impeccable record keeping, and budget management—all vital elements for runninneatly laid out g a tight ship in the world of business. So, if you haven't been using POs, it's time to give them a shot and watch your procurement process transform for the better.

What is a Purchase Requisition?

Now that we've got a solid grip on Purchase Orders, it's time to turn our attention to their trusty sidekick, the Purchase Requisition (PR). Think of PRs as the starting point, the spark that kicks off the procurement process within an organization.

A Purchase Requisition (PR) is a behind-the-scenes hero, an internal document used within a company to raise its hand and say, "Hey, we need something!" It's like your colleague flagging you down and saying, "I need those specific items to get my job done." 

Here's how it all works:

1. Identifying the Need: PRs are born when employees within an organization identify a need for certain goods or services. Let's say the marketing team needs new laptops to work more efficiently. They'd initiate a PR to get the ball rolling.

2. The Approval: But wait, it's not as simple as clicking a button and ordering those laptops. PRs need a thumbs-up from higher-ups. This approval process ensures that the requested items align with the organization's needs and budget. It's a bit like a checkpoint to make sure everyone's on the same page.

3. Budget Management: PRs play a vital role in managing the budget for procurement. By initiating the PR, the team is essentially putting their hand up for a slice of the budget pie. It helps in allocating resources wisely.

Key Features of Purchase Requisitions

Now, let's dive into what makes Purchase Requisitions tick. These features set them apart and make them indispensable in the world of procurement:

Internal Document

First and foremost, PRs are like the secret codes of your organization. They're not meant for external eyes but for in-house use. They're a way for your colleagues to communicate their needs internally.

Request for Items

PRs are the voice of your team members, saying, "We need this stuff to do our jobs properly." They articulate the need for specific goods or services, making it crystal clear what's required.

Approval Process

PRs aren't a one-person show. They go through an internal approval process. It's like a well-choreographed dance where the request has to pass through a series of checkpoints before it can evolve into a Purchase Order (PO). This process ensures the procurement aligns with your organization's needs and budget.

Budget Control

Let's face it; budgets are the lifeblood of your business. PRs help manage your budget by outlining exactly how much you need and where you need it. It's like putting up a signpost saying, "This way to smart spending."

Benefits of Using Purchase Requisitions

So, why should you bother with PRs when you could just skip straight to creating a Purchase Order? Well, here's the kicker—PRs bring their own set of benefits to the table, and they're worth every penny:

Controlled Procurement

PRs are the gatekeepers of your procurement process. They ensure that every purchase is in line with your organization's needs. It's like having a bouncer at the door of a VIP party, making sure only the right stuff gets in.

Budget Oversight

Your budget is a precious resource, and PRs help you manage it with care. They ensure that you're not overspending or making unnecessary purchases. It's like having a financial advisor watching your every move.


Not every purchase is created equal. PRs help you prioritize what's most important for your organization. They ensure that critical needs get addressed first. It's like having a to-do list for your procurement tasks.

Streamlined Workflow

PRs create a structured process for initiating procurement. They bring order to chaos, ensuring every request goes through the necessary steps. It's like having a clear roadmap for your procurement journey.

Major Differences Between Purchase Order and Purchase Requisition

In the world of business, understanding the distinctions between purchase orders (POs) and purchase requisitions (PRs) is essential. Let's delve deeper into the key differences between these two crucial documents:

Purpose and Usage

Purchase Order (PO): Think of a PO as the official go-ahead for buying stuff. It's the paperwork that seals the deal with your suppliers. When you issue a PO, you're essentially telling your supplier, "Hey, we're ready to buy what we discussed."

Purchase Requisition (PR): PRs are more like a shopping list for your company's internal use. They're what you use when you need something, but you haven't quite locked in a deal with a supplier yet. PRs serve as a way to say, "We need this, let's figure out the rest."

Approval Process

Purchase Order (PO): POs usually don't need much internal approval. By the time you're making a PO, your company has likely already given the green light with an approved PR.

Purchase Requisition (PR): PRs, on the other hand, often go through an internal approval process. It's like getting the thumbs-up from the boss before you go shopping for office supplies or new software.

Legal Implications

Purchase Order (PO): When you send out a PO and the supplier accepts it, it's like signing a contract. The terms and conditions laid out in the PO become legally binding.

Purchase Requisition (PR): PRs are a little more casual. They're like a friendly request. They don't have the same legal weight as a PO. No obligations are formed just because you sent out a PR.

What are vendor payment terms?

Payment terms arefundamental to procurement contracts, directly influencing cash flow and thereliability of the supply chain. Procurement payment terms are not merely aboutwhen payments should be made but also about how they are executed. These terms,ranging from cash on delivery to more extended payment periods, affect everyaspect of a business’s operations

When to Use Purchase Order vs. Purchase Requisition

Now, when do you choose one over the other? It's not a coin toss; it depends on what you're up to:

Use Purchase Orders When:

1. Supplier Ready: You've found the perfect supplier and are all set to make a purchase.

2. Formal Contract: You want a formal document that spells out all the nitty-gritty details of your deal.

3. Legally Binding: You need something legally binding to protect both parties.

Use Purchase Requisitions When:

1. Internal Request: You're starting things off internally, requesting something your organization needs.

2. Approval Needed: You want to ensure that what you're buying gets the internal thumbs-up for budget and necessity.

3. Prep for PO: You plan to create a purchase order later once you've got the internal go-ahead.

The Importance of Streamlining Procurement Processes

Why bother with all this purchase order and purchase requisition stuff? Well, streamlining your procurement processes has some pretty sweet benefits:

1. Cost Savings: Fewer mistakes and more intelligent purchasing decisions can save your organization some serious cash.

2. Control: Tighter control over your procurement process helps prevent shady dealings and misuse of resources.

3. Compliance: Streamlining ensures that you follow your procurement policies to a T.

4. Transparency: Detailed records make it easier to show what you've been up to, which comes in handy for audits and reporting.

Remember, whether it's a purchase order or a purchase requisition, both play a vital role in keeping your business running smoothly and efficiently. So, use them wisely!

Optimize Your Procurement with 1-Click!

Ready to transform your purchase management? 

Access our FREE PURCHASE ORDER TEMPLATE today and streamline your processes. Simplify your procurement with our easy-to-use template, designed to save you time and reduce errors. 

Download your free template now and experience the efficiency of ControlHub!

Tori Katz
Content specialist
Tori has a deep expertise in procurement and digital transformation technologies within the hardware industry. Author of extensive guides on strategic procurement practices and technology implementations. Focuses on improving operational efficiency and strategic growth through content.

Table of Contents