All vendor expenses from the jobsite have to be on a purchase order right? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? Aren’t all projects so well planned and organized that there is a pre-issued PO for everything?Of course not. Even the most structured and planned projects have ad-hoc & unplanned purchases that happen at the jobsite almost daily. Other projects only issue purchase orders for a portion of the project; and the remaining vendor expenses just happen on the fly. Still other projects create no POs at all, and just give their field staff a stack of carbon paper Purchase Order Books they buy at Staples to record expenses as they occur.None of these scenarios are wrong of course – but as I’m sure you already know, the less pre-planned control you have over jobsite expenses, the more challenges you face with getting a good handle on project status and vendor accruals, amongst other things.In an ideal world, all vendor expenses should be controlled by issued purchase orders. These should be driven by the project budget – with committed costs recorded in the GL or procurement software, for every vendor cost: no exceptions. When expenses are recorded from a vendor, they should be recorded as an incurred cost against the original issued PO. This is the ultimate control because you know ahead of time all your budgeted and committed costs; and as your actuals are recorded, there is nothing that falls outside those committed amounts. There is full clarity around your accruals; and when the vendor invoices you, it’s an easy step to clear out that accrual. Even as change orders are approved, purchase orders are revised and committed amounts altered to reflect the change. So ya, that’s in an ideal world. But it’s fantasy – things never really play out like that.In reality, there can be a substantial number of non-PO vendor expenses that need to be recorded and accounted for on any project on any day. But just because it’s common, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t present a bunch of challenges. The biggest challenge is with reporting accruals.Everyone has their own method for tracking project costs & activities from the jobsite. Some use a purpose-built system like 4castplus; many use a spreadsheet, some even still use pen & paper. No matter how you manage to capture hours & costs from the field, it all ultimately has to be routed back to the office to be used for cost tracking, reporting, billing (for contractors) and accrual management.