Processing Purchase Orders Efficiently

If you work on an alliance project or any project where some tasks are done by a collection of organisations, make sure there is a clear and simple procedure for making purchase orders.

A designated group of people should be responsible for this and should know the system. That group should be able to process purchase orders for work even if that work will be paid for by the head companies and not the alliance.

For example, I needed to get some external design work done. I had an external person who could do a set of designs for a set price. Yet it took ten weeks to actually make the purchase order so that work could start, including 10 hours of my time in going backwards and forwards trying to sort the system out.

The process included these steps:

  1. Try to find out which head company was paying
  2. Get the correct forms for the purchase
  3. Find the sub consultant agreement forms
  4. Wait until the head company could send me the right forms
  5. Fill these out and sending them to the head office accounts department
  6. Get them returned to me saying they were wrong and a different form should be used (different people thought different forms should be used)
  7. Send the agreement forms to the sub contractor to agree to.
  8. Get them back with alterations.
  9. Send them to the head office corporate solicitor to check and advise.
  10. Get a new form recommended and send them again to the sub consultant for agreement.
  11. Get agreement and then get signatures from alliance managers.
  12. Send the signed form to the head company for signatures.
  13. After agreements are all signed, give these and sub consultant details to accounts department for a purchase order to be made.
  14. Get this purchase order signed by alliance managers
  15. Get the purchase order signed by head company.
  16. Alter purchase order and agreement because different designs are now required (because of the time delay some internal staff had done some designs themselves as they were needed urgently)
  17. Get signatures again (alliance, head company, sub consultant.
  18. Send purchase order and agreement to sub consultant for work to be commenced.

Many of these steps took one or two weeks for review and responses. It would have been cheaper, quicker, and easier to get these designs done internally and pay overtime to get them done.

Management cost to get these processed $2000

Cost of designs $8000

These costs do not include all the purchasing and accounts department time and costs, only the direct design management costs (my time and my manager’s time).

If there was a division in the alliance office who could do all this, I could have taken the sub consultant details and price to them and they could have done this whole process in less than one hour, at a cost of perhaps $50.

  • They would need all the correct forms and agreements from the head companies.
  • They would need to know who authorises these forms and have easy access to these people.
  • They should know what forms and agreements are used for each purpose.

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