How to Use Educational Supply Purchase Orders to Maximize Your Budget

Schools use thousands of supplies each month. While there are some supplies that students need to bring for themselves, others you need to provide. If not appropriately tracked, these supplies can end up wasting thousands of dollars and become a huge drain to your budget.

As school administration, it’s your job to track what’s ordered, where it goes, and what happens to it. Your financial department likely already uses purchase orders to some degree. However, you may not be using them in a way that benefits your school.

What Are Purchase Orders?

Purchase orders confirm you’ve ordered supplies from a specific vendor. It’s a record of what you are trying to order sent to the vendor who’s agreed to sell you particular items. On your purchase order, you’ll find information like the date you requested goods, your school’s name, total price, description of products ordered, shipping information, and more.

Purchase orders are not the same as invoices. While they may have similar information, there’s one primary difference between them. A purchase order confirms your order, while an invoice requests payment for that order. You will send the purchase order, and your vendor will send you an invoice. Both are necessary documents for your financial department to track and use.

Purchase orders are legally binding contracts that can help you ensure your supplies stay within budget allocations. Once you’ve sent the document, the actions contained within it are required. Your vendor is legally obligated to complete that order.

When you have all of your items needed for the month or year listed on one form, you can evaluate budget limits and necessary supplies. These documents set clear expectations on what items you’ll be receiving within any given period.

How Tracking Orders Maximizes Your Budget

The best way to maximize your supply budget is to track purchase orders over time and compare them to usage records. Sure, you may be ordering 10,000 pencils a month, but does your school need that many? If it does, where are they going?

Track your education purchase orders to compare them with invoices and the items you receive to ensure your teachers get the things you’ve requested.

The best solution is to track your supply usage, from acquisition to end of its lifespan. If you are using thousands of a particular item each month, why are you going through so many? Is there anything you can do to reduce item usage, or is it a necessary part of running your school?

Regularly Examining purchase orders can tip you off onto areas that may be receiving more supplies than others. Are some departments consuming more of the supply budget than others? If this is something like the art department compared to the English department, that might be warranted. However, if your political studies department is ordering hundreds of dollars of supplies more than the science department, something might be amiss.

Tracking purchase orders over time can also help you identify times where your school needs supplies more than usual. The start and end of the year can require you to order more than usual to prepare for new students or end of year tests. Having a holistic tracking program can help you set up notifications to prepare for these times and allocate accordingly.

Asset Panda values the skills and learning educational institutions provide for students across the country. Our implementation experts have helped dozens of education-based clients set up their cloud-based holistic tracking platform to help them track purchase orders and supply usage. Want to see how it would work for your school? Take a free guided tour today!

Bree Brouwer

Bree has held plenty of media- and marketing-related jobs over the years now, like working as a PR and marketing assistant to a Hollywood screenwriting coach, and writing content for three different digital marketing agencies.

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