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"Where's My Stuff?" Bringing Automation to PO Status Checks via a Purchase Tracking System

Nadav Ullman
by Nadav Ullman
Oct 15, 2021

“Where’s my stuff?” That one fundamental inquiry stands head-and-shoulders and stacks-of-containers above all others. Today, companies are trying to gain a competitive advantage in the $9 trillion logistics industry by hiring teams of people to call and email their suppliers and freight forwarders for constant updates. That approach is not a sustainable way to track purchase orders in an accelerating age of digital transformation.

Let’s take a closer look at the importance of end-to-end purchase order tracking, the challenges of manually tracking purchase orders and some of the benefits that can be achieved by automating the generation of the status of your POs and inventory.


Is It There Yet? Where’s My Stuff?

Determining the current status of a purchase order — aka “where’s my stuff?” —   is time-intensive, manual, inaccurate, and taxing on teams.  It is not a lack of effort on the part of supply chain teams. They are working very hard to answer "where's my stuff?" and are using a lot of manual effort to do so by calling around, emailing, texting, and communicating in every channel. They know it is critical to track POs. Knowing what inventory is where not only helps them answer customers’ questions with confidence but also helps gauge inventory levels. Do we have enough stock to fill current orders and meet forecasted demand?.


Customers demand to know where their stuff is at all times and they want real-time information and status updates at their fingertips. Those expectations of PO tracking persist, only in this world things move faster and expectations have accelerated as well. 


That’s where automated purchase order tracking helps overcome the manual challenges teams face.


A proper automated system provides answers to purchase order tracking and inventory management questions — and more specifically the “where’s my stuff” question — because real-time information can be at your fingertips throughout the entire journey of the product. 


The automated PO tracking system also eliminates possible areas for miscommunication because all parties can follow the product at every stage and be kept up to date with all of the details around that specific purchase order.


Keeping Track of Purchase Orders — Why Do It At All?

From the time a purchase order is issued until the time it is closed, changes are possible at every turn in the fulfillment journey. Global supply chains operate in a volatile environment where demand fluctuates constantly. Often purchase orders must be updated to accommodate an increase or decrease in demand. It’s far easier to stay responsive amidst market volatility and make those adjustments by utilizing automated status updates for purchase orders. Other reasons why a purchase order might change after issuance include the items shipped are suddenly discontinued or the requirements of the original purchase change — bolstering the need for real-time, 24/7 PO tracking.


Challenges Faced when PO Status Tracking is not Automated

Finding where a product is at any time is the core challenge for supply chain teams when it comes to keeping track of purchase orders without the help of an automated PO and inventory system. There are challenges that teams see when they cannot answer “where’s my stuff?” at any time, including:

  • The lack of a centralized tracking system to know what SKUs are on hand, what’s in transit, or accounted for in orders placed but not yet fulfilled makes strategic inventory planning extremely challenging.
  • Not being able to gauge demand because it’s not easy to tell how many units are being shipped and whether that product is nearing stockout or is overstocked, either of which will have a negative impact on working capital.
  • Keeping up with products that have a limited shelf-life (perishables and fragile stock) and must be turned over at a quicker rate.
  • Having no clear way to keep abreast of inventory loss.
  • Using too many resources and time to track down PO status increases overall operational costs, but also limits overall responsiveness to customers.


With the help of a reliable purchase order tracking system, these challenges can be cleared up and removed. Centralized tracking keeps things from falling through the cracks. Itemized information allows the company to assess stock, forecast demand and locate where inventory loss is happening. 


The Power & Benefits of Automated PO Tracking

Without a doubt, a purchase order tracking system can help  turn “Where’s my stuff?” to “Here’s my stuff!” Let’s take a look at some key areas that have been bolstered by purchase order tracking:

  • Speed – The time it takes to track down the info and to make sure everyone is on board becomes lightning quick. No more spending all day emailing and calling suppliers. Staff can spend more time on tasks that drive business growth and scalability.
  • Proactiveness – Immediate notifications when something unexpected happens means staff members do not have to sift through every PO to find exceptions. 
  • Clarity – From input errors being eliminated to uniformity of how all the information can be processed, the process from one step to the next becomes smoother. 
  • Interaction – When the previous two features are improved, it reduces the hurdles of miscommunication and thereby eliminates the stress and tension.
  • Savings – Limiting the amount of time it takes to locate the product or to comprehend the  what, where, when and how much of the product means less man hours wasted and less space being used in the wrong manner.     


How a Purchase Order Tracking System Automates PO & Inventory Status 

You don’t want your material supply chain teams spending 40-60% of their time calling and emailing their suppliers and logistics partners and asking, “Where’s my stuff?” then manually having to track the answers and upload them into spreadsheets. They should not have to spend so much time on such repetitive work. Nor should they find out about a PO exception after it’s too late to do anything about it. What’s needed is an automated system for purchase order tracking that is a single source of truth for all stakeholders. 


When considering how to track purchase orders, it’s important to find a solution that enables your team to create and track every PO from end to end, as well as provide the ability to directly collaborate with suppliers and other partners in real time. That’s key when trying to proactively mitigate potential disruptions.


The optimal solution serves as a control tower hub for purchase order creation, tracking, and robust reporting. Each supplier has a unique login to the system so they can easily access PO acknowledgements and real-time status updates, as well as collaborate with other stakeholders. That connection is made possible by robust integrations with suppliers’ own systems, where they will receive AI-driven real-time status updates and notifications of potential disruptions.


A PO tracking system that automates tedious tasks allows companies to save significant time and resources as well as provide a better experience for their customers.


When Partnering with Leverage, No PO Status Will be Left Unturned

Leverage delivers end-to-end supply chain management, including purchase order tracking, powered by artificial intelligence that enables teams to ensure on-time, in-full, on-cost, and at-quality performance. We actually reach out to suppliers automatically to get PO statuses for our clients. This is NOT just a PO tracking software. It generates the statuses of every phase of PO, from issuance to acknowledgement to delivered to closed. Suppliers readily adopt our control tower software because we meet them where they are. If they live in their email inboxes, we auto-send them emails with big buttons right in the email to provide an update. Wechat? Whatsapp? An ERP? EDI? Great, we’ll meet you there, too, and integrate where needed. When you partner with Leverage, there will be no PO status left unturned. You’ll no longer struggle to answer the question, “Where’s my stuff?” You’ll be able to answer quickly and with confidence. Contact the experts at Leverage today to talk about how the world’s No. 1 supply chain analytics platform can track your purchase orders and other operations. 

Nadav Ullman
Post by Nadav Ullman
Entrepreneur, Investor | Forbes 30 Under 30