Accounts Payable

Companies Admit Their Purchase Orders System is Broken. Here’s What They’re Doing About it

January 28, 2021

purchase order matching

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Before COVID-19 disrupted accounts payable (AP) teams, artificial intelligence and automation were considered perks rather than a necessity. Hindsight is literally 2020 – with one business leader even calling the crisis “too precious to be wasted.”

In normal times, 60% of teams relied on improvised tools like Microsoft Office or emails to process purchase orders (POs) – but today, future-proofing AP teams have never been more eager to automate.

Why do companies need a PO process, anyway?

A PO system lets you document and control who is allowed to make purchases within the company. It provides visibility into upcoming payments so you can understand your cash flow situation in real-time. With a properly recorded process, the cycle of purchasing has more clarity.

 “Anybody could basically purchase whatever they wanted.” 

Sometimes, the internal approval loop for POs is weak or too clunky. For companies like Anvyl, a supply chain management firm, processing POs manually meant exchanging information at least 10 times with a business and communicating with 11 individuals before finally closing the order.

Beanworks has your AP team’s back

By automating purchase orders with Beanworks, companies can easily track their committed spend online. You can enforce budget restrictions or spend limits based on department, project, vendor etc. AP teams can account for all goods that employees ordered, keeping tabs on approvals and cash flow.

This is what prompted Canadian catering company, Athabasca, to automate their POs. Robert Cremers, their director of finance and administration, realized that without an official workflow “anybody could basically purchase whatever they wanted.” As Athabasca expanded, it became critical to gain back visibility and control – especially when 80 employees were authorized to make purchases. Now using Beanworks’ PO module, they are able to track approvals and employee spend online.

Vision of the future

Beanworks PO automation

Beanworks assigns a PO number to each requisition. This ensures that you only pay for items that are received. It also breaks down information silos around purchasing, helping AP teams analyze upcoming spend. The automated platform is much easier to manage than paper and provides a host of other benefits such as automated matching.

Assuming your organization isn’t prone to reckless spending, going over budget is still a common problem with manual POs. Without proper controls in place, employees can easily go over the allocated amount. With Beanworks, you can create a formal customized purchasing process that controls who is able to buy what and how much money they can spend. You can set spending limits based on department, project, vendor, or set manager budgets to control department spend.

Mistakes can happen easily if a business has several employees submitting a PO, emailing it to the vendor, and then waiting for a response. It’s no wonder that 33% of companies struggle to gain visibility with their supply chain, according to Levvel research.

An automated workflow will instantly route approvals to assigned managers making the PO cycle move much faster. Since everything is documented and stored on the cloud, you never lose data.

The cost savings you incur also produce opportunities. Once employees begin submitting requisitions online, approvers can easily identify purchase patterns and place orders in bulk or request volume discounts.

What’s more, approvals in invoices and payments also speed up because all AP workflows – purchase orders, invoice approvals, payments, and employee expenses – are seamlessly synchronized.

The pandemic has accelerated the acceptance that remote work is not only possible, but it’s here to stay. By fully automating your purchase order system, you can save your team countless hours, streamline the process and skip the endless ‘back and forth’ with vendors. This minimizes frustration and inconsistencies– two things that often hold AP teams back.

Does your purchasing need an overhaul?

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