To catch errors and prevent fraud, we divide important processes between different people and departments. The greater the number of people involved, the more likely we will be to catch mistakes, and the harder it is for any one person to manipulate the process. This is called Segregation of Duties.
So, because the purchasing staff are involved in gathering information about potential purchases, there are other tasks in the process that they cannot perform.
Purchasing department staff are not allowed to carry out the tasks in the list below.
We have highlighted some of the things we find purchasing staff are most often asked to do, despite the fact that they shouldn’t. Keep an eye out for these because you will be tempted to have them do these tasks.
- Request goods or services for other departments or projects
- Approve Purchase Orders or Service Contracts
- Receive goods, prepare receiving documentation
- Acknowledge or approve receipt of services
- Perform quality control tests or evaluate goods received
- Return goods to vendor
- Prepare, record or distribute payments to vendors
- Have custody over assets or goods purchased
- Receive invoices from vendors
- Have custody of blank checks
from CRS Finance Department Procedure PRO-FIN-ICS-024.02, Segregation of Duties
It is likely that, during the early days of a chaotic emergency, staff who are involved in purchasing in some way will end up doing some of these things. Correct this situation (and the bad habits that will come with it) as soon as you can.