Our AP Department would like to know what best practices for who handles contacting end-users when a blanket purchase order has expired or the dollar limit has been reached.


It varies by organization. The question suggests there are process issues in your current method of resolving depleted blanket orders, resulting it invoices continuing to be issued. This could also involve your supplier’s process, as they continue to take orders against an expired PO or without a PO, and apply it to the blanket PO.

We recommend you hold a “mapping meeting” with procurement and some end-users to review the current process and redesign it to a new process.  You want to agree on an outcome of the meeting, such as to: 

  • Develop a touch-it-once efficient and cost effective process
  • Uncover why shipments are still being made against closed/depleted blanket orders

Before the meeting takes place, some homework needs to take place. Gather metrics on:

  • Frequency of occurrence
  • Which supplier(s) or end user does it happen with?
  • On what product?

You must not look at this from a “we don't want it/you don’t want it” mindset, but rather from the standpoint of how best to resolve it. That means first finding out why it is happening; you do not just want a process to resolve each discrepancy, but to eliminate the discrepancies altogether. To find the best process, it sometimes is best to have someone lead the mapping meeting who is not personally involved in the process.

If you take this approach, it will probably be a team effort, something like:

  • Purchasing:   works with suppliers involved to eliminate shipments on expired POs
  • AP:  works with the current discrepancy to get approvals to pay invoice at hand, and to get the authority to ask the end-user(s) to request that the PO to be updated if they in fact are keeping the goods/services (in our experience, this usually means they create a new requisition/PO for that invoice). 

The problem for AP is they have to delete the invoice against the blanket PO and re-enter under the new PO. During mapping they need to find a solution to prevent this situation. This leads back to the supplier and their not accepting orders against an expired PO.

So you need to gather your metrics to have factual support of what’s going on, and gather all involved parties to map and sort out the process. Find the root case and address that in whichever way makes sense involving whomever needs to do what.

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