Purchase orders serve the function of authorizing the purchase of goods or services from different vendors. Various purchase order forms are used for different sizes and types of purchases. These forms include purchase requisitions or requests, regular purchase orders, standing purchase orders, blanket purchase orders, contracts for services and change orders.
In a regular purchase order process, if a business unit needs to make a purchase, it prepares a purchase order request or requisition detailing the items wanted, quantity, unit cost, when the items are required and the preferred vendor, if there is one. The business unit presents the request to a manager who is authorized to approve the purchase or to a purchasing department for approval. If the purchase order is for a major purchase or a large amount of money, it might require more than one level of approval before it is finalized.
The purchasing department reviews the request and selects the best vendor for the material or services. After the request is approved, a purchase order is issued and assigned a number, and that number is then referenced on all correspondence relating to that order, through delivery and payment. Purchase order forms can be electronic or printed. The appearance of the purchase order form is not important; it is the information on it that establishes the agreement between the vendor and the buyer.
Standing purchase order forms are used when a business needs a regular delivery of an identical quantity of material, such as a monthly shipment. A standing purchase order approves the delivery interval and the price of the commodity, and it specifies the length of time that the standing order will remain in effect. A standing purchase order also can be used for equipment or maintenance leases that will carry on over a determined period.
Blanket purchase order forms are used to cover the routine purchase of small quantities of low-value items. For example, an office might have a blanket purchase order for purchase of paper, ink and toner supplies for copying and printing functions. A blanket order typically restricts the types of items that can be purchased and sets an individual order limit and a total value limit, as well as an expiration date.
Contractual purchase order forms are generally used to cover the work required to complete a project. They specify exactly what work will be performed and on what schedule. A contractual purchase order might provide for interim payments as the project reaches certain milestones. If, during the course of the project, it becomes necessary to modify the requirements, a change order might be issued. The change order details precisely what specifications have been changed and is incorporated into the original purchase order.
Company requirements might call for a bid on any purchases that will cost more than a certain amount of money or that involve a particular type of goods or services. In this case, the purchasing department will request bids. After the bids have been received and reviewed, the purchasing department will award the purchase order to the successful bidder.