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Why it’s so hard to track PO Statuses in Real-Time

Sam Sustacek
by Sam Sustacek
Dec 10, 2021

Tracking purchase order statuses in real-time can be like trying to keep up with all the plot twists in a mystery novel as they happen. The supply chain can be a mystery in and of itself with disparate groups that must work together in an environment of rampant risk and constant disruption. Amid that chaos there are two questions that arise which underscore the importance of PO tracking: Where’s my stuff? And when will it arrive?

Let’s take a closer look at the complex web of tracking PO statuses in real-time, how Leverage can untangle them and what added rewards the Leverage platform can bring to the table, including greater collaboration to mitigate disruptions


A Deeper Profile Into How PO Tracking Works Today

Tracking purchase order statuses often depends heavily on communication platforms and how they are handled.  Each of a company’s suppliers or freight forwarders might use multiple channels to communicate PO status updates with logistics teams:

  • There are suppliers who use EDI
  • Others use WeChat or WhatsApp
  • Some will only respond to emails
  • Information can come in CSVs or PDFs


With that rich mix of options it’s no wonder that material supply chain teams spend 40-60% of their time calling and emailing their suppliers, freight forwarders, shippers and logistics partners in all of the channels listed above while trying to manually track PO statuses.


Why are supply chain teams calling suppliers and forwarders all day and asking about PO statuses? They are trying to identify risks. For instance, trying to identify if  something is going to be late that impacts their ability to serve demand? By automating that process to reach out to suppliers, not only are they saving that time, but increasing fidelity to get more consistent real-time  updates on their POs, which will bring risks to the forefront much quicker. If there is a late order that will impact their sales, customers, or demand targets, that can be communicated to stakeholders in real time and contingencies can be put in motion, if needed. By automatically collecting statuses in real time, supply chain teams will always know when a risk threatens their business.


Why Manual PO Tracking Hampers the Flow 

Manual purchase order status tracking still has trouble keeping up with the times. Here are some ways in which a manual system can slow the PO tracking process or create tangent problems: 

  • Manual input of information into emails, WhatsApp, other chat platforms, and spreadsheets from multiple sources increases the chances for data errors, inconsistency, poor descriptions, or incorrect categorization.
  • Trying to correlate this data from disparate sources to identify tendencies and trends can take considerably more time. More time means money and man hours are wasted while tracking down suppliers, freight forwarders and 3PLs. The team’s focus should be on more strategic initiatives.
  • Along the same lines, the ability to determine where mistakes are made can become blurred. When there is no transparency, it becomes strikingly more difficult to make corrections and stem similar errors in the future.
  • Another area where manual PO tracking can take a bite out of a business’s revenue is when mistakes or the inability to attain all the information in one place leads to inventory issues and, thus, impacts the knowledge of what is in demand and what is in excess. 
  • All of the above complications can lead to disgruntled customers, especially if a supply chain team member cannot answer “Where’s my stuff?” at a moment's notice. Likewise, their coworkers will be unhappy having to do tedious, time-consuming tasks that are associated with manually tracking PO statuses.


A Thorny, Time-Consuming Problem Solved with Automation

There is no understating the importance of using automation to track POs in real time, especially in a sprawling supply chain that creates hundreds or more POs per month. Here are a few more scenarios where automating the tracking of purchase orders is in a company’s best interests:


  • If the company is creating more than 10 purchase orders a month, tracking purchase order status in a spreadsheet will no longer suffice.
  • If consistent updates about the status of purchase order are needed
  • If there are many and frequent changes in purchase orders.
  • If the orders are being tracked by more than one or two people, there is a likelihood that somewhere along the line information is being overridden or entered incorrectly.


Next we will explore some of the many benefits that come with automating PO tracking.


How Real-Time Automated PO Tracking Can Help The Business Become a Hit  

Wouldn’t it be great to have the ability to track purchase order statuses in real time while reducing the risk of human error and freeing up staff to focus on higher priorities? With Leverage’s real-time automated PO tracking, teams can do just that. The benefits include:

    • Eliminating risks: Slip-ups, like multiple data-entry mistakes and communication breakdowns, can be mitigated. Also, when risks are identified earlier, the supply chain team is able to respond to disruptions proactively rather than reactively. That will trust and credibility with customers and stakeholders alike.
    • Constant real-time monitoring: An automated system that can quickly tell where the product is and how many are being moved will help limit stockouts and facilitate effective inventory management, planning, and demand forecasting.
    • Cashflow: Being able to keep up-to-date in an instant creates savings in time and money. For instance, by mitigating risk earlier, companies decrease the amount of cash flow that is held up by  orders that are late and in transit.
    • Happier Customers: Customers who are informed with the current status of all orders and shipments and have an experience that is more efficient and proactive in communication during the fulfilment and delivery process are more likely to be strong promoters of the business. 
    • Happier Workforce: Reducing risks and making tracking transparent can lead to greater worker satisfaction and retention. Streamlining the process of purchase order status will also boost morale among staff who are not stuck with the time-consuming task of collecting PO status updates manually and who get time to focus on more strategic, value-producing activities.
  • ROI: By saving the amount of time that the teams spend manually tracking POs, and instead automating those tasks, companies see an average ROI of 7-8X in year one alone.


It’s time to build the supply chain organization that companies and customers truly need, and the best way to do that is through automated end-to-end PO lifecycle visibility and proactive real-time alerts. Never drop the ball on a purchase order again. Contact the experts at Leverage to get started.


Sam Sustacek
Post by Sam Sustacek
Senior Account Executive at Leverage