Once your company starts scaling up, dealing with purchase orders can be overly time-consuming, limiting you from other essential financial activities. Thus, more and more small and medium businesses are looking to make their purchase order process more efficient.
In a digital world, using purchase order software has become a must-have for companies willing to be more efficient in their procurement process. This is why the switch to purchase order software is a trend that is here to stay.
Our guide aims to introduce you to an actionable plan of purchase order process automation, helping you save up to 50% of the time spent on purchase orders. Are you ready to join the purchase order software bandwagon?
To find out if the best way to automate your purchase order process is to use the purchase order software for a small business, one should know what the software entails.
In short, the purchase order software streamlines a company’s procurement process. It aids in the enhancement of buy order management procedures, the streamlining of approval workflows, and the tracking of accepted and rejected purchase orders.
As an essential part of the purchase order process automation, using a purchase order system allows organizations to maintain purchase orders in one place, increasing visibility of financial expenditures, providing audit trails, and eliminating the error-prone drafting of purchase orders in Excel spreadsheets.
Because there are so many moving elements, the purchase order process can be difficult to traverse manually. Staying organized, monitoring expenditure, and fostering openness across departments all need software solutions.
When a company opts for procurement automation, there are numerous advantages to be taken into consideration. So, what are the main benefits of using purchase order software for a small business?
One of the most significant benefits of utilizing a purchase order software is that it reduces staff workloads by eliminating manual administration. This allows them to focus on duties that bring value, such as risk management and creating relationships with suppliers and customers.
In fact, choosing the best purchase order software can help you save from 30 to 50% of the time invested in the procurement process. Just imagine how much more efficient you and your team will become!
Purchase executives’ workload is reduced by automating procurement operations such as vendor registration, sending RFQs, creating automated Comparative Statements, and automating the approval process. This allows them to concentrate on their main tasks, such as reaching out to new vendors and identifying acceptable suppliers for their procurement requirements.
Thus, procurement automation has a significant favorable impact on supply lead time, quality, and cost, among other things.
On a similar note, using procurement software offers total insight into all procurement processes and operations, helping you diminish the inefficiencies related to paper-based operations.
For companies struggling with first-generation automation issues or lacking a procurement team in the first place, using purchase order software will diminish the usual backlogs, leading to improved relationships with suppliers.
When you choose to work with the best purchase order software for a small business, the prices are more transparent, maverick buying is avoided, and your company may easily employ preferred supplier networks. Moreover, the buyer and seller have a better power balance since information is much more readily available.
At the same time, the procurement software facilitates data collecting by better organizing and managing transaction information. With the information at hand, you may view and evaluate purchasing trends, use buying influence, and uncover chances to consolidate suppliers.
Everything can be saved and preserved electronically with an e-procurement system. It’s also easier to check for problems with electronic paperwork because it’s more simplified. Additionally, old orders can be more easily referenced, saving time and ensuring accuracy by comparing orders to ensure new ones are correct.
Oftentimes, small businesses associate using purchase order software with a large financial investment.
But is the traditional purchase order process cheap in the first place?
Truth be told, manual purchase orders may cost anywhere from $35.88 to $506.52 depending on the company’s sector of activity.
In fact, using purchase order software may help businesses save a lot of money. While the entire cost per purchase order varies by company, procurement automation has the potential to save up to 75% on every purchase order.
So, NO, the purchase order software is not a liability on your financial statements.
In fact, it is an asset that will generate a high return on investment.
Moreover, procurement automation plays an important role in the cost optimization of the purchase order process. As operating expenses have decreased, so have the costs of purchasing and selling, as well as the obstacles to entry into a market.
We get it. Sometimes it is harder to completely change the way of doing things in a company. This can also happen when considering automating your purchase order process.
To smoothen your decision-making process, let us introduce you to the short case of Indiana Beach, an amusement park located in Monticello.
Throughout the years, they faced numerous challenges with their initial purchase order process, especially when it came to scaling manual processes.
The team had to devote a significant amount of effort to matching incoming invoices to purchase orders.
Thankfully for their development, the finance team rapidly recognized they needed to automate the process.
That was the moment when they realized their need for the best purchase order software. Immediately after they started using ProcureDesk, the Indiana Beach team was able to scale operations using automation to meet the operation’s objectives.
By now, it’s quite clear. In 2022, procurement automation is the way to operate as a company. But how can you end up in Indiana Beach’s shoes?
It’s time to understand the depths of using purchase order software!
[Bonus:] In order to stay on top of your procurement game, one needs to constantly gather information. Take a look at our checklist before you invest in a purchase order software!
The benefits are clear. Using purchase order software can help you save invaluable time.
By now, you should have made up your mind and you should have realized that procurement automation is the way to go.
This is why, through this guide, we will help you smoothen the transition to e-procurement. If you read carefully and understand how the system works, positive results will be sure to come.
It is time to save time.
Let’s start this automated procurement journey, shall we?
The first one of the purchase order process steps is, as expected, creating a PO request.
If you have no prior experience in procurement, “what is a PO request?” might be the first question that comes to your mind.
Worry not, we got you covered! A purchase order request is an official document issued by a buyer that commits to paying the seller for the acquisition of particular items or services to be provided in the future.
As you can see from the image above, you will be able to see the quote, the description, the quantity, and the suppliers for that specific order. With the help of the dashboard, you can also check whether the supplier has responded to your request or not, as well as the status of the PO request throughout the whole purchase order process.
Basically, in this very first step, all you need to do is to take a look at the vendors’ catalog and choose the product or service that best satisfies your needs.
Here we have a small tip for you: a good supply catalog can influence the whole buying experience.
When you fill in the PO request, you can simply browse or search catalogs to find the proper product or service instead of remembering what information to input. This is one of the first tricks that will save you from wasting your invaluable time.
To have a quick look, this is what a catalog would look like:
In case you need any help with designing both internal and external catalogs, take a look at our article on the topic.
But, in the meantime, let us recap how you can use vendors’ catalogs in your favor:
Once the PO request is out in the world, it’s time to move to the second step.
In this next stage, you’ll learn how to set up the PO approval workflow.
And more importantly, you will learn how to do it efficiently.
If you set up the process correctly, you should be able to approve 80% of total requests in under an hour and the remainder in over an hour.
This is what you are trying to achieve, right?
Well, getting a deeper knowledge of your expenditures is the first step to a successful purchase approval process.
So, what do you need to take a look at? Purchasing categories, the average budget expenditures, the level of accountability and control, or your company’s goals are just some factors to be taken into consideration at this point.
You may quickly route the request to department budget owners using customizable workflows. They will have comprehensive insight into what is being acquired.
This is how a flexible workflow will, in fact, look like:
There are numerous versions of PO approval flow charts you can choose from, so design one that suits your company best.
However, no matter the direction you will choose, follow these criteria for creating a successful purchase order approval process:
Well, now it’s your time to shine.
You can start building the best purchase approval workflow by downloading our approval process template.
After the PO request is validated, the purchase order system should send the purchase order to the vendor automatically.
This is what the typical purchase order will look like:
So, what would normally take a couple of hours when processed manually, can now get in your vendor’s inbox in just a matter of clicks.
Just think about the amount of time you have managed to save by now.
Welcome to the efficiency of e-procurement!
Once this PO is being sent by the procurement software, you can rest for a while: the supplier is taking the lead during this step.
At first, the supplier needs to recognize this purchase order in order for it to become legally binding.
But, how do you know if your order was acknowledged by the vendor? The answer is, as expected, one click away. You may follow the status of a purchase order throughout its life cycle using the purchase order tracking feature.
Here is an example of what the purchase order tracking looks like:
Up next, the vendor dispatches the goods or service providers from their end, making sure that everything is ready to be delivered to the buyer. That might imply some internal quality checks.
[Bonus]: Budgeting is an important step in your procurement process. Do you want to learn how to calculate your own purchase order cost? Take a look at our article on the topic and download our PO Cost Template!
The fourth step of the purchase order process is the moment you have been waiting for. The time has come for you to receive your order — this being, in fact, the main purpose of the procurement activity.
Thankfully, due to the already presented tracking feature, you don’t have to worry anymore about not receiving the order. You only have to check its status and wait for the package to come.
What you need to do right now is to perform a quality check. Is the order up to your expectations? Did you receive everything that you were supposed to receive in the first place?
A product quality inspection is a process that involves inspecting and testing a product’s numerous features to ensure that it fulfills pre-determined requirements.
In case everything is according to plan, then we can continue the purchase order process.
If not, then you need to check the guarantee conditions and confirm with the supplier that you can either change the product or if you are eligible for reimbursement.
After the order is delivered, you will create a receipt.
The receipt procedure enables businesses to determine whether or not a supplier has delivered the product. This feature will be of use in the next step, so keep on reading!
After you have received the order, the next natural step in the purchase order process is to receive an invoice from the vendor.
In fact, many businesses struggle because they lack an established method for accepting invoices.
You may have paper invoices or invoices that are issued directly to stakeholders rather than the AP department. As a result, scanning invoices and following up with various stakeholders to acquire supplier information takes more time.
The next step is to secure payment approval for invoices.
If you use a purchase order system, with the help of the receipt, the AP department can process invoices by comparing the invoice to what was delivered and bought.
In practice, you can match the purchase order and the invoice (also known as a 2-way match) or the purchase order, invoice, and receipt (also known as a 3-way match).
You don’t need any more approvals if the invoice matches the PO and there is a receipt confirmation.
If you need to get the invoices approved, however, emails become a problem.
Thankfully, you can cut down on approval time by using a system-driven exception approval process rather than emails to approve exceptions.
In this stage, features such as QuickBooks Integration will truly come in handy.
As expected, each purchase should end up with you paying for the goods or services purchased.
This is why the payment to the supplier is the final step of the purchase order process automation.
Payments can be processed directly in QuickBooks or through third-party platforms such as Bill.com.
Once the payment has been made, the invoice payment data must be transmitted to the AP system so that other users may see that the invoice has been paid.
Well, what else does this quick payment matching bring to the procurement software? The benefits of synchronizing the payment status are twofold:
With this in mind, the steps covering the purchase order process have finally come to an end. All you have to do now is to choose the desired procurement software. And we are here to support you.
[Bonus]: Centralized purchasing is a purchasing approach in which procurement choices and implementation are centralized, rather than each branch making its own purchase decision. Learn more about centralized purchasing!
One thing you should know by now is that time is money.
But time is also energy, productivity, and efficiency. All these elements are vital for the steady growth of your company. For you to be able to concentrate all your resources on your core capabilities, it’s time to cut your labor investment in the purchase order process.
Yet, one thing purchase order automation can do for you is to help you save time.
For that to happen, however, one needs to choose the best purchase order software. You need a large portfolio of features that will help you automate even the smallest manual activities. The future is digital, so it’s time to minimize and digitize your efforts.
And this is where our job begins. ProcureDesk is a purchasing and invoicing solution that works with QuickBooks, Xero, and other reporting tools. With all these features provided, our aim is to help you keep costs under control, cut down on invoice processing time, and eliminate data entry in your accounting system.
We are here to guide you in your e-procurement journey.
So, are you ready to take the next step towards procurement automation?
Book a call with one of our e-procurement professionals to learn more about how ProcureDesk can help you automate your purchase order process!