Every organization must deal with purchase orders (POs) in some capacity. Whatever you need to buy, purchase orders are encountered by most managers across all industries. this article outlines how to make the purchase order process completely paperless with Laserfiche Forms.

The scenario

The marketing department at LaserWorks outsources printing of product brochures to an outside vendor. A tradeshow is coming up and the company wants to give out three brochures about its most popular products at the show.

The previous process involved an event assistant filling out a purchase order form by hand, and then delivering it to the marketing events manager who reviewed it and signed it. This paper PO would then wend its way through the marketing and accounting departments before finally being completed, approved and filed.

LaserWorks streamlined this time-consuming and inefficient process with Laserfiche Forms.

The new process

The events assistant accesses the PO form from the LaserWorks intranet. Here is what the full form looks like:

The events assistant fills out the PO with the required information. As she inserts quantities and unit prices of the brochures, the “Total Price” field is automatically filled out with the correct subtotal. When she adds in the sales tax and shipping/handling charges, the “Total” is automatically calculated.

Once the form is completely filled out, the events assistant clicks “Submit” and the form is routed to the events manager for approval. The events manager must look over the form and sign it. She can also designate another manager to approve and sign the form. In this case, Mindy Manager has designated Michael Marks, marketing manager.

The form will be routed to Michael for his review. Once Michael reviews it, and as long as he doesn’t designate another manager to approve it as well, the PO is sent to the accounting manager.

Once the accounting manager approves the PO, it is automatically sent to the accounting clerk who generates a PO Number and populates the appropriate field on the form.

If the invoice has already been uploaded, the events assistant receives an e-mail with the PO number. If she has not yet uploaded the invoice, she automatically receives the form below.

What goes on behind the scenes

Although the final document is a single PO, this entire process actually consists of four different forms.

Information from the first form (the original PO form that the events assistant filled out) is copied to each of the other forms, with the specific part pertaining to a particular user added. For example, the form that the accounting manager sees is not the original PO form but the PO form with the special “Manager Section” appended to the bottom.

Each form field has a specific variable associated with it. This variable contains the information that is entered into the field. For example, the “Requestor” field has a corresponding variable called “Requestor.”

When creating the form that the accounting manager sees, for example, instead of inserting a regular field and calling it “Requestor,” a “Requestor” variable can be inserted. This ensures that that the field will be populated with the same information entered in the original PO when the accounting manager views it.

In order to customize the form to have the “Total Price” field automatically reflect the “Quantity” multiplied by “Unit Price” and then automatically add up all the subtotals including “Tax” and “Shipping Cost” to get the actual “Total,” the following JavaScript can be included in the “Script” page:

The values in red correspond to the various fields in the form. Exact code and instructions can be found here.

The whole business process is modeled in the Laserfiche Forms Process Modeler. Here is what the process model looks like:

Actions performed by people, such as “Assign PO #” are represented by user tasks, actions performed by automated tools such as “Sent PO # to Requestor” are represented by service tasks and routing decisions are represented by gateways.


Benefits of Laserfiche Forms

Streamlining the purchase order process with Laserfiche Forms results in the following benefits:


  • Purchase orders can be signed electronically and easily routed from party to party without having to be manually carried around the office.
  • Everything can be done in an efficient and timely matter as everyone involved is notified immediately of their upcoming tasks.
  • Administrators can easily view where each PO is in the process, and can quickly address any hold-ups or bottlenecks.