We recently turned on purchasing and are working towards inventory, but I am having a hard time understanding how Service Titan's purchasing work flow fits our business. In the purchasing tab under purchase orders you have pending, sent, paritally received, received, and canceled. According to ST's training videos we should create a purchase order when we want to order materials from a vendor. Then when we send the order it is moved to sent, then when we receive full or partial orders they fall in received or partially received.
So what is confusing for me is we do not place orders like this with our vendors from the office. If we did we certainly can not know what the vendor will charge us for the items we are ordering as the prices can change daily. Our techs will go to a vendor buy what they need and receive a recipt from the vendor. Currently we are having our techs take a photo of the recipt when they pick up materials and then the office creates a PO from the picture and then moves it through all the steps to received. Is this process wrong or how does ST expect us to handle this? If we stocked a warehouse and only ordered materials from a supply house to stock our warehouse and then techs travelled to our warehouse to get materials sure I get the process but that is not the case.
Wow this is a lot to unpack. First off I do not know your business model, so what is say may not totally work for you. Supplies are the biggest controllable expense we have. first off if techs are going to a warehouse on the clock you are paying for that when they should be working. Sorry if that sounds brutal but it is the truth. a controlled warehouse controls your costs. you may be surprised at how much you would save by not allowing the techs to purchase at will. there certainly will be times where they may need to go to a supplier and hence the reason they can create POs in the field. the field PO's requested through the office is an ok start. Then the receipts can be created but must be checked against your final billing from your vendor. Using POs also makes sure your materials are put onto your job costing. Are the techs returning unused materials? Probably not. This also creates inefficiency. Are you tracking what is actually used versus what is bought. the techs will tend to over buy. (In 44 years as a field tech I can attest to that fact.) As your company grows you will want to develop a warehouse and have your jobs pre-staged. Truck stocks of "left Over Materials" is a set up for waste and abuse of your materials. I suggest you explore using a single purchasing person to control your inventory if you do not have warehouse stock. all Of this comes under the category of supply discipline. The tenant of supply discipline is to only buy what you need, charge for what you use, and prevent loss. As you build your inventory this will become even more important.
As for work flow, establishing a definitive truck stock of common items allows the replenishment of those items. this happens automatically when the items are tied to your task . the individual trucks generate materials replenishment as the invoices are created from the tasks. your purchasing person then can buy the items from the vendor at the best price, and transfer the items to the trucks when received. this is done in the system. Using replenishment will allow you to make the techs accountable for everything on the trucks and yes you will be able to do a hands on inventory. This keeps the techs accountable for what they are using.
In My experience the guy you trust the most is the guy thats selling "leftovers" on the weekends. Materials accountability identifies those that are honest and those that are not so much. It also prevents the buy it by the dozen mentality. IE "I need one but i may need more later so give me a dozen, its not my money"
as for knowing what the vendor will charge is the responsibility of the purchasing person. We Get quotes on specialty items and use a hard bid. We use the vendor portals for every day items. (yes even the big box stores will let you do this.) your price builder will set your mark up to cover day to day fluctuations. (use your mark up always.)
I know this sounds a bit preachy so take it to heart you'll save money by pulling in the purse strings.
Yes I understand the business side of this I mean just the workflows service titan has for this particular module. If you get quotes from your suppliers then you can set those prices in the pricebook and sure you can know what it will cost, but we can not do that for every single item. We added all of the items we use daily to the pricebook, but adding every single item we may ever use to our pricebook is not a good idea either. So there are times when a tech needs an additional item. We have things in place to limit waste. What im saying is the workflow makes no sense. If the tech creates a PO in service titan and then sends his list to a vendor for the materials there is no guarentee the parts will be there or even the same brands or material types, they may need to make adjustments to their order which means they need to edit their purchase order. Service titan suggests you auto receive all purchase orders which means if there is a change then you have to delete the receipt and move it back to pending edit it then resend and receive it. That process is annoying. On top of that if it is already received and bills created which they also suggest you auto batch then you can not edit it at all anymore and the office is required to create adjustment invoices. During this whole process the office isnt even given a chance to look at the received invoice from the supply house and compare it to the version the tech entered to compare them for accuracy and make sure they are not buying items they shouldnt be.
Maybe hiring a single person every tech must call and place an order with and then that person places an order with a supply house works for some companies but that seems like alot of trouble and time lost for every tech too.
The only way we have found to check the invoices for accuracy is to not auto receive the purchase orders and only mark as received when we get a bill and check them. Which doesnt make sense because we should be checking the bills for accuracy I would assume is the way service titan intended but then we have to delete bills returns receipts move to pending edit it send it receive it save it recreate the return. The process gets even worse doing it that way.