Over the years companies have fused inventory management and purchasing into an integrated operational function. Teams are often responsible for performing inventory counts and physical inventory, along with handling requisitions and purchase orders. Regrettably, the fruit of this union has been an increasingly complicated and lengthy workflow.
Managers are forced to painstakingly sift through inventory reports and email exchanges to validate purchase orders in order to ensure they properly make it from creation to fulfillment. Not only is this manual process susceptible to inaccuracies, it also hurts lead time and profits.
It’s hard to find out exactly how much it costs to process a PO, but it’s increasingly evident how much time and effort is wasted without a comprehensive system in place. Warning signs include inventory shortages, misplaced purchase orders, operational delays, or worse.
Fortunately, there are technologies like asset management software or purchasing software that support automated purchase order approval workflows.
Let’s dive a little deeper into how these systems work:
The Power of Notifications
When considering your approach to processing PO’s, think about the times you forgot about an order or misplaced the paperwork. It happens. You have a lot on your plate.
That’s where email reminders come into play. Yes, your inbox quickly fills up and notifications are known workflow distractions, but email notifications can still help you stay on-task if you can instinctively recognize their purpose and take action on the reminders right away.
Purchase Order Approval helps employees and managers address their time-sensitive responsibilities by automating reminders and notifications. The notice can be as simple as “PO waiting to be approved.” Just a little friendly tap on the shoulder to keep the process flowing in a timely manner.
Answering Your Least Favorite Work Question
How many times a day does someone ask you, “What’s the status of … ?” Maybe it’s your manager wondering about a big purchase order that has been circulating around the department; or Finance is on your case about a random pesky order. Regardless, it’s usually a pain to stop what you’re doing to dig through paperwork and spreadsheets for an answer. Before they have the chance to ask or email you again, you can beat them to the punch.
With an asset management system, there are tools which allow you to easily look-up all asset and purchase order details, and then create and run reports in seconds. You receive the real-time fashion of tracking purchase orders that you need to always have an informed reply.
In addition, intuitive filtering capabilities allow you to instantly see what orders are open, pending approval, approved, and rejected. With the right set of tools at your disposal, answering dreaded status-related questions won’t take so long and could eliminate some internal log jams.
Find a Better Fitting Solution Than ERP
Why pay $4000 per user for a highly complex software that greatly exceeds your needs? That’s like buying an iPad with the intent to use it as a calculator. If you aren’t a part of a large corporation, it won’t take long to identify specific bottlenecks or pain points in your current purchase order workflow. This exercise will prepare you to evaluate the appropriate vendors in hopes of finding a more personalized, at scale solution.
You might discover that an asset management system with integrated purchase order tracking capabilities will bring about a higher return on your investment than an ERP or supply chain solution. Many of the software options include an array of supply chain-esque functionalities at a fraction of the cost and complexity.
A Couple Naturally Successful Use Cases
Multiple Approvers – Example: Company asset management policies dictate that purchase orders over $5,000 require approval from one manager and over $50,000 require approval of a second manager.
For operations that require PO validation from 2 or more approvers, purchase order approval enables you to set up if-then conditions in your system configurations that will redirect the workflow to the appropriate approver.
Rejecting a PO – Example: Manager reviews a purchase order and finds that it does not meet department standards. Manager must notify the creator and include a rejection reason.
The system allows managers to view purchase orders within the software and records all approvals or rejections along with any notes. It then sends an email notification to the creator that the PO has been rejected. After updating the information, the creator simply repeats the same steps to submit the PO, and the system notifies the approver that the order is pending his/her approval.
Once you determine your needs, you can pick the type of solution makes the most sense for handling purchase orders, be it ERP, purchasing software, asset management software, etc. That’s the first hurdle. Then comes the easy part: taking advantage of the purchase order automation tools at your disposal that will save you time and build an intelligent workflow.