A Hitchhiker’s Guide to e-Procurement: Goods Receipts, Part I

Mostly Harmless, Part VIII

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A goods receipt is a written (or electronic) acknowledgement by a buyer that a specified set of products or services was received by the buyer in acceptable conditions. It’s primarily used for the receipt of goods by a buyer’s warehouse or distribution network. A goods receipt tells the supplier that the buyer has accepted the goods and that the supplier can expect to be paid subject to the terms of the associated purchase order(s) or contract(s).

A goods receipt is so simple in principle that one might believe that it hardly warrants its own post. However, a goods receipt is not so cut-and-dry in practice. There are many reasons for this, including:

  • The goods receipt has to be meaningful to the supplier.

    This means that it has to contain the product codes, or SKUs, used by the supplier, indicate the quantities, and reference the purchase order(s) given to the supplier.

  • The goods receipt has to be meaningful to the buyer.

    This means that it has to contain the product codes, or SKUs, used by the buyer for purchasing. It needs to reference the appropriate purchase order(s) and/or contract(s) and it needs to provide an ability to reference a forthcoming invoice.

  • The goods receipt has to be meaningful to inventory management.

    The goods receipt also has to contain the product codes, or SKUs, used in inventory and warehouse management, if they differ from the purchasing codes, and any auxiliary information required by inventory management and warehousing for storage and distribution.

  • The goods receipt has to account for irregularities that could form the basis of disputes.

    The supplier might require a receipt as soon as goods are delivered, but before they can be adequately inspected. Upon an initial inspection of a damaged box, it may or may not be possible to determine whether or not any, some, or all of the contained products are damaged. How can this information be captured so that there is a foundation for a dispute if damage is found upon future inspection?

  • The goods receipt has to be acceptable to multiple systems.

    Chances are the supplier uses one system for receiving goods receipts while Purchasing uses another for cutting purchase orders while inventory management uses yet another for managing inventory.

As a result, the goods receipt must be expressible in at least one universal format that is capable of supporting multiple product codes or SKUs, multiple references to related buyer and supplier documents, and multiple instances of such documents, as a supplier could ship goods relating to multiple purchase orders in a single shipment. (Also, a single purchase order could be related to many goods receipts if different goods on a large BOM are shipped in different shipments.) As a result, the requirements for the goods receipt cannot be overlooked in the selection of an e-Procurement system.

Next Post: Goods Receipts, Part II

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