Order Forms 101: The Key to Unlocking Efficiency in Your Business

What is an order form?

An order form is a document that records one or more business transactions between a buyer and a seller. It may also be called a business order form, sales order form, online order form, procurement order form, inventory order form, or service order form.

Typically, a buyer fills out and issues an order form to the seller. The seller accepts this sales order form. This creates a legally binding contract between the two parties governing the exchange.

An example of this would be the procurement process for buying new computers in an organization. Someone at the organization would fill out a procurement order form for the number and type of computers needed and send it to the computer seller. The computer seller would confirm that they’ve received the order and begin the fulfillment process.

The purpose of an order form

The purpose of an order form is to:

  • order specific products or services from a seller
  • specify how many of each item is/are requested
  • communicate payment terms
  • act as a legally binding contract upon acceptance from the seller
  • document purchases

If the vendor has to ship the items, the service order form also provides the shipping details.

When do I need an order form?

Business order forms are necessary for procurement, sales, and many other operations, particularly for large orders and/or high-value transactions.

Sellers use order forms to document large business orders, manage large inventory purchases, pair shipments with purchases for auditing or bookkeeping, or when accounts payable needs precise terms of goods provided.

Buyers may find that order forms serve a purpose in record-keeping for accounting, tracking arrival and payment of goods, ensuring delivery, managing incoming and pending orders, and streamlining the procurement process.

Types of order forms

There are as many types of order forms as there are businesses. Each varies based on the organization’s needs. Some common types of order forms include:

  • Single-item: If a vendor has just one product or service available, such as a consultation appointment or a subscription, then a simple single-item order form may fit their needs. This order form may only collect the buyer’s name, contact information, and payment method since the seller, product, and number of items are already known.
  • Single-item with variations: If a product has multiple versions, such as subscription tiers or options to bundle additional services, a single-item order form may be expanded to include these options for the buyer to choose from.
  • Multiple products and choices: When a vendor’s selection resembles a store-and-shopping-cart experience, a more complex form includes all items in the buyer’s cart as well as other necessary information.

Sales, procurement, inventory, and service order forms are each named for their specific purpose. Service order forms, for example, are for services rather than products. One example of this is when someone books a consultation. The service order form collects necessary information, including the date and time of the appointment, and communicates it to the consultant for confirmation.

Parts of an order form

Most order forms include these important parts:

  • Buyer and seller names
  • Purchase order number
  • Item description(s)
  • Number of items requested
  • Billing address
  • Payment information
  • Signatures
  • Order date

If the seller is shipping items in the order, the sales order form should also include the buyer’s shipping address. The seller may add a shipping date once they receive the order form. The seller confirms the order by signing it.

Limitations of order forms

Order forms are only as good as the accuracy and completeness of the information they contain.

For example, a well-designed order form may require the buyer to provide a highly detailed order. However, a mistake might mean the seller produces too few or too many items or ships to the wrong address.

On the other hand, a streamlined order form that requires less detail may seem helpful in reducing errors. Yet, it is possible to ask for too little information, forcing the seller to contact the buyer for more details and adding friction to the fulfillment process.

Creating an order form

Creating an order form means finding the balance between detailed information and simplicity that reduces the chance of error.

A number of templates for paper order forms exist online. However, contract lifecycle management software helps you easily create digital and online order forms that gather all the data you need. For procurement and sales teams ready to digitally transform contract creation, a robust digital contracting platform makes all the difference.

Creating a business order form doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated. Whether making a procurement order form or a sales order form, you can start the creation process using a template and the parts of an order form listed above. Simply insert your organization’s data into a customizable workflow, and you’re on your way.

Managing order forms

If you’re overseeing procurement for a large organization or sales for even a small business, managing order forms without contract lifecycle management software is challenging. Manually creating and tracking order forms for every order is difficult or impossible if you have dozens in motion at any given time. This administrative process keeps team members from focusing on tasks that require their expertise, eating up their time with routine work that could be automated. 

At high volume, manual order form management also leaves room for human error. What’s more, contract management that relies on several unintegrated systems creates bottlenecks. To get a better handle on procurement and sales operations, it’s best to automate workflows and duplicate order forms with templates.

Designing an order form workflow that works

With order form workflows, it’s easy to pull up a past order and replicate it or create a completely new one to meet a current order’s specifications. Order form workflows don’t have to be exact duplicates of previous order form templates. They should be editable so that they can adapt to an organization’s needs.

Order form workflows simplify processes so that you don’t have to start from scratch every time you create a new form. 

Streamlining the order form process

Taking control of the order form process with digital contracting software reduces organizational thrash and streamlines operations.

Ironclad is contract lifecycle management software that uses tools like Workflow Designer and the Ironclad Editor as well as artificial intelligence to boost collaboration while reducing workload.

Using smart integrations with DropBox, Salesforce, DocuSign, Google Drive, AdobeSign, One Drive, and more, your organization can reduce time waiting on legal approval and cut down on administrative tasks. You can even use data collected in your order forms to analyze your business and make better-informed decisions.

Next steps

Simplify your order form process with Ironclad and get back to the tasks that require your expertise and focus. Sign up for a consultation here to be one step closer to creating your first order form.

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