How to Map a Purchasing Process

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Mapping a purchasing process is simply a matter of deciding on a "best practice" or better yet a "best process" for making orders to suppliers. When you have a solid purchasing process, with clear terms that both you and your suppliers understand and agree on, ordering new supplies and product into your business becomes almost automated. This particular purchasing process is very basic, but you can update and change the details of your process map as needed.

Call the supplier(s) you want to order from to negotiate terms including the percentage discount. When confirmed add the supplier to your "approved vendor" list. Set up a standard purchase order for each supplier that clearly defines the terms that you have agreed upon using a Microsoft Word or Excel template (see "Resources" for a link).

Determine required materials and amounts needed based on your monthly or weekly production goals and decide which approved supplier can provide it. List the price based on your approved supplier information.

Generate and print up the purchase order to be sent to the chosen supplier. Fax, call in, email, or mail it to the supplier. File a copy of the purchase order in your company records.

Verify that your supplier is in receipt of your purchase order.

Receive the items and put them through a quality and order accuracy check. Make sure that each item on the purchase order is in the package and that they are not damaged.

Enter the purchase order into your inventory system as received. Send the purchase order and invoice to accounts payable for payment processing.

Stock the items received on that purchase order into inventory or route them to the appropriate department for immediate use.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you prefer a visual purchasing process map, simply write each step in a rectangular box and draw an arrow down to the next box. When there is an alternative option to consider--for example, you might need to ask yourself whether the goods received are accurate or not--draw two arrows, one for yes and one for no, and then direct the process map to the logical next step depending on the answer. If you were sent the wrong goods, the process map arrows should lead to a separate box/option that states "process return." See Resources for an example of a visual purchase process map.

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