5 Money-Saving Benefits of Purchase Orders for the Independent School
Purchase order automation is a given in larger companies focused on efficiency and meeting financial goals. While its bottom line defines the for-profit sector, independent schools could benefit from automating the ordering process.
Budgeting, planning, and recordkeeping all play an essential role in keeping schools running smoothly. And in the independent school, executives and administrators have a unique set of responsibilities.
Budgeting and forecasting mean managing grants, endowments, and tuition; money is coming from many different places. Schools need tight controls and more visibility to keep donors happy, pay their teachers, and secure day-to-day supplies.
Despite the benefits of using a cloud-hosted system to track spending and place orders, many schools still order supplies and equipment with paper POs. Meaning, they’ll struggle with spending mistakes, lost orders, and lack of visibility into the full financial picture.
Here are five money-saving benefits of bringing your POs into the digital age.
1. Spend Less on Paper
An electronic purchase order system might not be the first thing that independent school administrators think of during budget planning. It’s a back-office function that sounds pretty straightforward. Call or email your vendor, and you’ll receive the requested items.
But to reduce waste and cut costs, eliminating paper POs and low-tech spreadsheets is a great place to start.
Moving to a paperless system means that not only are you using less paper, but you’ll save some cash. ProcurementExpress.com’s cloud-based system keeps track of POs and budgets, so any user with access to the system can view activity, no need to print out paper records.
2. Streamline Operations
With the right processes in place, administrators can make sure there’s enough money available before placing an order. Without digital purchase orders, it can be difficult to check on what you’ve got ordered.
Tools like ProcurementExpress.com cut back on paperwork and allow teachers and administrators to place orders, get them approved, and view order status in real-time. Users can set purchasing controls, too.
This means anyone can place an order, and authorized approvers receive a notification when someone submits a PO. The cross-checking process is reduced to a matter of minutes, and there’s no need to thumb through stacks of manila folders or look through different computer programs to avoid double orders, overspending or purchasing from the wrong vendor.
Streamlined operations are a big deal in the independent school. A disorganized ordering process with too many bottlenecks means students and teacher get stuck waiting for supplies.
On the vendor side, digital POs allow things to move faster, too. Suppliers receive an order and can start processing right away. Rather than losing time by sending requests in the mail, users get the order where it needs to go—and as a result, improve delivery times.
3. Reduces Bureaucratic Red Tape
A big pain point for schools seems to be bureaucracy. Public or independent, university or grammar school, there’s always red tape when it comes to ordering materials or planning an event.
A significant benefit of automating POs is all orders must be approved before they go to the vendor. Instead of teachers or admin staff making purchase requests to the headmaster or executive, they’ll be able to submit the PO from their phone or desktop. Again, the order is then routed to the appropriate approver.
As such, there’s far less back and forth — even if the approver works from a remote location.
Bringing the ordering process into the school’s budgeting process also makes it easier to organize field trips, plan events, and other activities. Digitized POs provide an updated collection of records on hand. Anyone with access to the program can look at the budget, view a history of past POs, and see pending orders.
That big boost in visibility means that decision-makers don’t need to leave the system (and inevitably forget to return) to find the information needed to give the go-ahead.
4. Cut Back on Human Error
Yes, we’re harping on paper POs again, but they’re no longer the industry standard.
Humans should focus on their strengths: communication and innovation. Repetitive tasks that require a certain degree of accuracy aren’t our strong point–even the most detail-oriented person can’t compete with the digital workforce.
Entering purchase orders by hand or sending Excel sheets to vendors is a big mistake. Why?
A few minor errors here and there can result in lost POs, ordering the wrong items, and placing duplicate orders. Which, of course, translates into wasted money.
Having those extra checks in place can help school staff generate error-free purchase orders within a few clicks. As such, teachers and administrators can focus on other tasks.
5. Better Decision-Making Capabilities
Independent schools deal with unique ordering challenges. For one, you’re dealing with grants, tuition, and charitable donations. Some donors might say that they want their gift to go to a specific department.
So, throwing all money into the same pot and ordering school supplies, basketballs, and lab equipment from the same fund won’t exactly work.
With procurement software such as ProcurementExpress.com, digital orders completely replace the paper PO. And, when you create an order, you’ll need to link your purchase to a budget.
Our software allows for real-time budget management, allowing approvers to track current spending according to budget goals, then making a decision based on whether there’s room in the budget for the new order.
Over time, users can look at historical data to inform budget goals for the next quarter or school year. These insights can also help the school better coordinate with donors. For example, the ordering record can reveal which areas have the biggest budget, and which could use a little extra support.
For a quick view, approvers can check out the PO tab within the tool. Here, you’ll see order status, pending approvals, and the budget for each item.
As you can see, the independent school stands to benefit from incorporating an automated PO system into their existing lineup.
Because most independent schools are on their own when it comes to securing vendors, placing orders, and managing funds, sticking with a paper-based ordering system can put unnecessary strain on the budget and stand in the way of organizational visibility.
ProcurementExpress.com allows you to set budgets, customize orders, and reduce paperwork. Book a free demo to see how automated POs can improve the school procurement process.