Mostly Harmless, Part IV
Requisition challenges and best practices.
The approval process needs to vary depending on what is being ordered, who is doing the ordering, the budget(s) the order is being made against, and the approval limits of the requisitioner, her supervisor, and/or the budget managers. It can be as simple as an automatic approval if the requisition is for approved items from approved suppliers at contracted rates within the purchase limits of the requisitioner, to a multi-level approval process where the supervisor has to sign off because it’s above the spending limits of the buyer, where the budget manager has to sign off because it’s for IT equipment, where the department manager has to sign off because it’s an off-contract purchase, and where the CPO has to sign off because it’s over $10,000.
As a result, the e-Procurement system needs to not only allow for the creation, management, and tracking of spend against budgets, but also needs to support the definition of very flexible routing rules of varying priority that will not only insure that all parties sign off on a requisition before it is approved (and used to generate a purchase order that is sent off to a supplier), but that it is routed to the approvers in an appropriate order. In the example above, it should not reach the department manager until the supervisor and budget manager have signed off, and should definitely not reach the CPO until the department manager has signed off. The routing should be generated automatically upon creation based upon the appropriately ranked approval rules defined in the system (which will include an automatic routing to the supervisor for definition of the approval chain for any purchase order that is not appropriately covered by other rules).
The e-Procurement system will need to either maintain an up-to-date organizational chart, or integrate with the HR system that does. This way, general rules can be written in terms of supervisors, budget managers, and other organization roles. Otherwise, rules would have to be defined using individual users, which would make maintenance a nightmare.
When evaluating the approvals capability of an e-Procurement system, which might include budgeting support and rules management, one should keep in mind the associated challenges of the approvals process, keep an eye out for best practice support, and insure that the solution will deliver the intended benefits. These topics will be addressed in the next post.
Next Post: Approvals, Part II