Purchasing Cycle

  • By ProcureDesk
  • March 28,2024
  • 10 min read

Purchasing Cycle

The purchasing cycle, also known as the procurement cycle, is a fundamental concept in the field of procurement and accounts payable. It refers to the sequence of steps that an organization follows to acquire goods or services from external suppliers. This process is crucial for businesses as it ensures that the necessary goods or services are available when needed, at the best possible price, and from reliable suppliers.

The purchasing cycle is not a one-size-fits-all process. It varies from one organization to another, depending on factors such as the size of the organization, the nature of the goods or services being procured, and the organization’s procurement policies and procedures. However, there are common steps that most organizations follow, which form the basis of the purchasing cycle.

Identification of Needs

The first step in the purchasing cycle is the identification of needs. This involves determining what goods or services the organization needs to operate effectively. The need could arise from various sources such as a department within the organization, a project team, or even an individual employee.

Once the need is identified, it is usually documented in a requisition form or a purchase request. This document provides details about the required goods or services, including the quantity, specifications, and the desired delivery date. It is then submitted to the procurement department for review and approval.

Importance of Accurate Need Identification

Accurate identification of needs is crucial in the purchasing cycle. It ensures that the organization procures the right goods or services, in the right quantity, and at the right time. This not only prevents wastage of resources but also ensures the smooth running of the organization’s operations.

Furthermore, accurate need identification helps in supplier selection. By knowing exactly what is needed, the procurement team can identify suppliers who can deliver the required goods or services to the required specifications and timelines.

Supplier Selection

Once the needs have been identified and approved, the next step in the purchasing cycle is supplier selection. This involves identifying potential suppliers, evaluating them based on various criteria, and selecting the most suitable one.

The criteria for supplier selection may include the supplier’s ability to deliver the required goods or services, their pricing, their reputation, their financial stability, and their adherence to ethical and environmental standards, among others. The selection process may involve requesting and evaluating proposals from potential suppliers, conducting supplier audits, and negotiating terms and conditions.

Role of Supplier Selection in the Purchasing Cycle

Supplier selection plays a pivotal role in the purchasing cycle. Choosing the right supplier can result in cost savings, improved quality of goods or services, and better supplier relationships. On the other hand, choosing the wrong supplier can lead to delays, poor quality, and increased costs.

Therefore, supplier selection should be a thorough and objective process. It should involve multiple stakeholders, including the procurement team, the end-users of the goods or services, and the organization’s leadership. This ensures that the selected supplier can meet the organization’s needs and expectations.

Purchase Order Issuance

After selecting the supplier, the next step in the purchasing cycle is the issuance of a purchase order. A purchase order is a legal document that outlines the details of the purchase, including the goods or services to be purchased, the quantity, the price, the delivery date, and the terms and conditions.

The purchase order is sent to the supplier, who then acknowledges it and confirms their ability to fulfill it. The issuance of a purchase order signifies the formalization of the purchase agreement between the organization and the supplier.

Significance of Purchase Orders in the Purchasing Cycle

Purchase orders are significant in the purchasing cycle as they serve as a legal contract between the buyer and the supplier. They provide a clear and detailed record of what is being purchased, from whom, at what price, and under what terms. This helps in managing expectations, preventing misunderstandings, and resolving disputes.

Furthermore, purchase orders are important for financial control and accountability. They are used to track expenditures, manage budgets, and conduct financial audits. They also serve as a basis for invoice verification and payment.

Delivery and Inspection

The next step in the purchasing cycle is the delivery of the goods or services and their inspection. Upon delivery, the goods or services are inspected to ensure that they match the specifications outlined in the purchase order. Any discrepancies are reported to the supplier for resolution.

Once the goods or services have been inspected and approved, they are received into the organization’s inventory or directly used, depending on the nature of the goods or services. The receipt of the goods or services is documented, usually through a goods received note or a service acceptance certificate.

Role of Inspection in the Purchasing Cycle

Inspection plays a crucial role in the purchasing cycle. It ensures that the goods or services delivered by the supplier meet the organization’s requirements and expectations. This is important for maintaining quality standards and ensuring the effectiveness of the organization’s operations.

Furthermore, inspection provides a basis for supplier evaluation and performance management. By inspecting the goods or services, the organization can assess the supplier’s reliability, adherence to specifications, and overall performance. This information can be used to manage the supplier relationship and make informed decisions about future purchases.

Invoice Verification and Payment

The final step in the purchasing cycle is invoice verification and payment. Once the goods or services have been received and approved, the supplier sends an invoice to the organization. The invoice is checked against the purchase order and the goods received note or service acceptance certificate to ensure that it is accurate.

Once the invoice has been verified, it is approved for payment. The payment is made according to the terms and conditions agreed upon in the purchase order. The payment process is usually managed by the accounts payable department.

Importance of Invoice Verification and Payment in the Purchasing Cycle

Invoice verification and payment are important aspects of the purchasing cycle. They ensure that the organization pays only for the goods or services that it has received and that the payment is made in accordance with the agreed terms and conditions. This helps in preventing overpayments, duplicate payments, and fraudulent payments.

Furthermore, timely and accurate payment is important for maintaining good supplier relationships. It demonstrates the organization’s commitment to its suppliers and encourages them to continue providing quality goods or services. It also helps in negotiating better terms and conditions with the suppliers in the future.


In conclusion, the purchasing cycle is a critical process in the field of procurement and accounts payable. It involves several steps, each of which plays a crucial role in ensuring that the organization acquires the necessary goods or services, at the best possible price, and from reliable suppliers.

Understanding and effectively managing the purchasing cycle can result in significant benefits for an organization, including cost savings, improved quality, better supplier relationships, and enhanced financial control and accountability. Therefore, it is important for organizations to invest in the skills, systems, and processes necessary to manage the purchasing cycle effectively.