purchase orders and getting paid for your work...

The majority of our work is done for companies of a certain size, where purchase orders are order of the day.

The work is mainly requested by individuals in the marketing department, who expect us to start work pretty much straight after the estimate has landed in their inbox. The procurement department, however, has a different philosophy - insisting work isn't started until the agency (that'll be us) has received a PO. And that often leaves us with a dilemma.

We're being told by the people we have a relationship with (marketing) they need a job completed in a week, yet we're being told by the people we don't have a relationship with (procurement) we can't start it, let alone complete it, until we're in possession of a six digit number. So what's a boy to do?

Marketing, not procurement, are giving us the business and it is with them our loyalty lies. So the job gets done and the client is happy. Yet that happiness comes at a price for us - as a job can't be invoiced until we have that elusive PO. Days or even weeks can go by without it appearing but we know it will, eventually.

Then we wait to be paid. At best it's 30 days, at worst 60 until the money appears in our bank account. Even after all that time payment can get delayed because somebody 'hasn't approved it' or 'we've got a new system'. Not our fault but what can you do? Wages have to be paid and supplier bills settled (on time cos we're nice).

The joys of running a small business, with big clients.