Before you can put the goods and services your business needs to work, you need a way to request them. Kicking off the entire purchase order process, a purchase order request form is the place to start for materials, office supplies, or anything else you need to do business. And when you add automation to the mix, you can help make sure every purchase you make is an efficient and optimized one.
What is a Purchase Order Request Form?
Also known as a purchase requisition or a purchase requisition form, a purchase order request form is the first document filed in the purchase order process. While a purchase order is used to actually place an order for goods or services, a purchase requisition is used to outline the needs met by the order, and determine if the budget has room for such a purchase.
Created by the buyer (either from scratch or using a purchase order form template), this document includes detailed information about the goods and services requested, including:
- Full buyer contact information (phone number, address, email, etc.)
- Full vendor information (vendor name, address, phone, etc.)
- Type, quantity, and quality of goods/services required
- Pricing information, including unit price and total amount for the order
- Payment terms
- Shipping terms and delivery date
- Any other terms and conditions specific to the transaction or as determined by contractual obligations between the vendor and the buyer
The information included on the purchase order request form will be used to create the actual purchase order and all related documentation (packing slip, invoice, etc.), so it’s crucial that it be as accurate and complete as possible.
While it might seem more than a little complex, the journey from purchase request to purchase order is but a single step in the overall purchasing process. Even at the earliest stages, buying anything from office supplies to raw materials for production presents opportunities for both potential headaches and potential savings.
From Purchase Request to Purchase Order
Once they complete the form, the buyer submits it either to their supervisor or another approving party for internal approval, or directly to the purchasing department. In the former case, the supervisor, manager, etc. may either approve or reject the request and return the form to the buyer, or (for approved purchases) route the form directly to purchasing after approval. In the event a purchase is rejected due to errors or missing information, the approving party may return the form to the buyer for corrections and resubmission.
After the form is submitted to the purchasing department, it will undergo further review to ensure the budget allocated for the goods/services requested is sufficient to place the order. As with the internal departmental or project-specific review process, the purchasing department can approve the purchase request, reject it, or return it with a request for clarification and corrections.
In some cases, additional levels of approval may be required, e.g. one-off buys or exceptionally large purchases. In those instances, purchasing staff may route the purchase requisition to upper management for review and approval before placing the actual purchase order with the vendor.
When all the approvals have come through and the purchase request has been double-checked for accuracy and completeness, the purchasing team uses the information from the form to create an official purchase order. As with the purchase request, the purchase order can be created from scratch or using a purchase order templates. Older, paper-based systems may require triplicate (or more) copies of each document, while digital systems often auto-populate the purchase order form with information taken directly from the request form.
In addition to the information listed on the purchase requisition form, the purchase order will have a purchase order number, used to connect the transaction to all documentation connected to it (for example, the receiving department will verify the purchase order number and contents against the packing slip, while accounts payable will verify that the amounts listed on the purchase order match those on the invoice received from the vendor).
The purchasing department sends the completed and approved purchase order to the vendor for review and approval. Upon the vendor’s acceptance, the purchase order becomes a legally binding sales contract between the two parties.
Note: Workflows may vary by organization, so your specific process may differ from the examples presented. In general, however, procurement requires approval workflows as an essential part of effective financial, inventory, and process improvement controls.
How Automation Can Power Up Your Purchasing
While it might seem more than a little complex, the journey from purchase request to purchase order is but a single step in the overall purchasing process. Even at the earliest stages, buying anything from office supplies to raw materials for production presents opportunities for both potential headaches and potential savings. You can tilt the scales toward “savings,” however, by ensuring you’ve optimized your purchasing processes (including your purchase requests).
How? Well, automation—a feature central to most modern purchase order software solutions—is a smart way to start. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, automated purchasing software improves not just your procurement function’s efficiency and productivity, but that of your entire organization through:
- Improved efficiency. Automation turns what used to be time-consuming, low-value tasks into hands-free ones. Cloud-based data management makes it easy to auto-fill purchase order request and purchase order templates with correct and complete information, then route them to approving parties digitally. Access from both desktop and mobile apps means approval workflows take hours, not days, and automated alerts keep bottlenecks to a minimum. Triple-verification and integration with your email, enterprise resource planning (ERP), financial software, and customer resource management (CRM) suites means everyone’s always on the same page, and all of your business processes are faster, leaner, and more effective.
- Less Human Error, More Human Productivity. In addition to streamlining and speeding your procurement workflows, automation reduces the risk for human error from data entry, duplicate orders, and rogue spend. It also unshackles your staff from low-value labor and lets them apply their skills to higher-level tasks that impact your company’s overall goals as well as its bottom line.
- More Informed Decision-Making. Your supply chain is a rich source of potential insights, generating mountains of data your team can analyze and leverage to make smarter, more strategic decisions in not just procurement, but finance, marketing, and product development. Cloud-based, centralized document and data management, combined with full transparency and ’round-the-clock, leveled access for all users, means you’ll never have to rely on guesswork and incomplete data again.
Start Strong to Save More When You Spend
Big things can begin with a small step—and every purchase order request form is a chance to support your company’s goals while saving serious cash. Trim waste and add efficiency by streamlining your purchase order process, and make sure all your purchasing creates value, profitability, and organizational efficiency, start to finish.