Purchase order law is a legal agreement that occurs between a purchaser and a supplier to authorize a purchase. This agreement often involves the use of a contract.

Purchase Orders

A purchase order is a document that is sent from the buyer to the supplier to place an order. The purchase order often includes the type of item, the quantity requested, and the agreed upon price of the transaction.

If the seller accepts the purchase order, this creates a legally binding contract. The purchase agreement can protect the seller in the event of nonpayment. A typical purchase order often includes the following information:

  • Company name
  • Shipping address
  • Vendors name
  • Vendors address
  • Payment information
  • Details about the order (expected shipment date, the number of items, the quality of items, and any other important order information).

Sometimes the purchase order will be in the form of a physical paper document, and other times an internet-based program like Procurify will be used. In a digital setting, the purchase agreement might look a little different. It might include ledger codes and more detailed information about the purchase request.

How Do Purchase Orders Differ From an Invoice?

It is important to note that purchase orders and invoices are different. The buyer drafts the purchase order, whereas the seller drafts the invoice after the payment has been received. The invoice may also be submitted before payment with a detailed list of costs incurred. Although both documents include similar information, they each serve a different purpose.

Why Purchase Orders are Crucial to a Business

Although it might initially seem like a hassle to implement purchase orders into your daily business transactions, it is a crucial step. Smaller businesses often have growing needs. Although a casual purchasing process might be acceptable now, it is likely that you will eventually need a process that is more urgent, complex, or demanding. It can be difficult to establish this type of a purchase relationship without the use of purchase orders.

Buyers also have limited legal options if purchases are not up to their standard or quality expectations without a purchase agreement.

Manual Procedures are Inefficient

Paper-based procurement procedures tend to be inefficient and inconvenient for everyone involved. Manual procedures result in the following disadvantages:

  • A production of an excessive amount of documents (requisitions, purchase orders, order acknowledgments, advice notes, goods received, invoices, packing slips, and quotations).
  • Physical paperwork can easily be destroyed, damaged, or misplaced.
  • Duplicated paperwork can lead to an increase in office supplies, administrative fees, and labor costs.
  • Maintaining a physical filing system is timely and complex.

Businesses can eliminate these disadvantages by using an E-procurement software, moving all of the necessary documentation and filing to a virtual setting.

How to Integrate Purchase Orders in a Business Setting

It will take a little planning and organization to integrate purchase orders into your business setting. First, take a step back and evaluate your current purchasing practices. Take note of the advantages and disadvantages of the current process. Then, the following steps can help you efficiently transition to integrating purchasing orders:

  • Integrating requisitions and purchase orders: A full integration will be needed if your business is currently not using purchase orders in any method.
  • Purchase requisitions: Requisitions are the purchase requests that come from employees. These requests are often for items that are needed to successfully carry out their job expectations. Creating a standardized requisition form can make this process more convenient for the purchaser.
  • Budgets: With trackable requisitions, you can get more detailed financial information. You can gather information like average monthly spending and with this information you can create monthly and yearly budgets.
  • Volume discounts: You will notice patterns and trends in your office's requisition requests. You can take note of these commonly used items and then request bulk discounts from suppliers.
  • From requisition to purchase order: Once you have successfully integrated purchase orders into your business, you can create a standardized purchase order process.

Fully integrating the requisition purchase order process will make the entire purchasing process more convenient and cost-effective. Additionally, you will have a form of legal protection against future purchase orders.

If you need help with purchase order law you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.