Eliminate Spend Sieves with a Three-Way Match
Your business is dynamic and fast paced, and you want to be on the move, getting the real work done. In this type of environment it is easy to think you can manage your organization’s purchasing decisions on the fly. After all, you know your business and your suppliers; transacting with them doesn’t have to be a big deal, right?
Well, maybe. As your business grows and adapts to an ever-changing marketplace your purchases of goods and services are changing too. They are becoming more complex, or higher in volume; maybe you need to expand your supply sources to keep up with customer demands. This is when you benefit from having a consistent, optimized purchasing process.
Costly mistakes can happen, and even seemingly small financial variances can leak through holes in weak process adding up to big bucks over time. How can you prevent wasted funds and risky deals? Document your purchases, for goods and services. Use a detailed purchase order (PO), perform a receipt, and ensure the supplier invoice matches the goods/services ordered and received before issuing payment. This process is called a three-way match, and it ensures you get exactly what you want from your suppliers at the price you agreed upon. Here’s how to implement this in practice.
Write a Detailed PO
Even if you know exactly which items will make up your total purchase, avoid entering one grand total on your PO. Create lines for each item. Include the quantity and purchase price per unit. Don’t forget to enter a line item for negotiated shipping or delivery costs.
Just say “no” to one-line, lump sum service purchase orders. It may seem like the quickest way to get things moving, but if a deadline or deliverable is missed or delayed you won’t have an easy way to hold your supplier accountable.
Instead try breaking the service into milestones, for example: Kick-off, Release 1, Release 2, and Go-live. Include a deliverable date and milestone payment value for each. If your service is not project based, you can capture an hourly rate and a set number of hours allocated to the work each week or month. Even if you have a recurring monthly fee for a year of service, break that out into 12 line items so your supplier can invoice against each easily. This will avoid confusion on invoice reconciliation especially at month or year end. Don’t forget to include a line item for T&E if any work will be performed off-site or remotely.
Lastly, ensure expenses are approved at the appropriate authority in your organization before the PO is issued. If these costs need to be allocated to a specific cost center identify and record that detail now. Getting this approval up front helps projects run smoothly, ensures budgets stay on track, and saves time and confusion at the end of the project when the supplier is waiting for money for services rendered.
Ideally the same individual who is ordering and approving payment for goods should complete this important second step. This is especially relevant for orders with long lead times or those delivered in multiple shipments. The receiving process is your chance to call out any discrepancies before the invoice comes in making it much easier to adjust and avoid overpayment.
If you’ve built a milestone-based purchase order you can use this opportunity to check in and ensure the project is progressing as intended before issuing a payment.
Reconcile the Invoice and Approve for Payment
Ensure the supplier is invoicing for the same amount of money as indicated on the purchase order and as the goods/services received by you. If the expenditure is approved up front in the purchase order process and all relevant parties have confirmed the quality of the goods/services through the receipt, this should flow seamlessly and quickly allowing you and your supplier to get back to doing what you do best supporting and growing your business.
Executing a proper three-way match will ensure your strong relationships with your suppliers stay that way. You have more valuable work to perform than haggling over a missed deadline or chasing down details to approve an outdated invoice. You can consistently follow this simple process that will not only help you prevent lost dollars but will give you confidence that your operations are running smoothly, and save time spent on purchasing activities.
To make a three-way match flow even more seamlessly contact Premikati to learn more about how you can simplify your procurement processes.