Purchase order. How does it work
Thread poster: Katerintra

Katerintra  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:55
English to Russian
+ ...
Aug 4, 2012

I am new in the business. Can you help? Where do I get Purchase Order from? What should it say? Thank you

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:55
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Welcome! Aug 4, 2012

I suggest you take the time to read through wiki.proz.com. There, you will find useful experience-based insight about how to manage your business. Especially important for a newbie are:
- http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Risk_management_for_translators_and_interpreters
- http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Category:Money_matters
- http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Category:Marketing

And for your protection:
- http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Detecting_and_reacting_to_false_job_offers_and_other_scams
- http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Translator_scam_alert_reports

Make sure you read these sections and ask in case there is something you don't understand. This was information compiled by colleagues in Proz.com and contains very good advice I'd say.

As for the "purchase order", it is simply a document issued by a client to reflect the volume, nature, deadline(s), rates, and any other conditions for the job. Translation agencies issue purchase orders in all cases, and if you work for an agency you should make sure they send you a purchase order before you translate a single word.

Direct customers are not necessarily used to sending PO's (PO=Purchase Order), but you can ask them for a letter or email stating the same information: volume, deadline, rates, and any other agreements you made with them about the translation job.

The purpose of this purchase order to reflect the agreements, and will be the base for your invoice.

There is no specific form or standard format por PO's. Each client have their format.

Good luck!


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Katerintra  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:55
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Aug 4, 2012

Thank you very much

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:55
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Send your own equivalent Aug 4, 2012

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
As for the "purchase order", it is simply a document issued by a client to reflect the volume, nature, deadline(s), rates, and any other conditions for the job. Translation agencies issue purchase orders in all cases, and if you work for an agency you should make sure they send you a purchase order before you translate a single word.

Once again, Tomás, I'll disagree with that (for the sake of the OP and for completeness).icon_smile.gif I rarely get a PO from the agencies I work for, and the ones I've received have often been wrong, just creating confusion!

Direct customers are not necessarily used to sending PO's (PO=Purchase Order), but you can ask them for a letter or email stating the same information: volume, deadline, rates, and any other agreements you made with them about the translation job.

I agree that all these things MUST be set out clearly in writing before the job is finally accepted (by you) and authorised (by the client). But I would NEVER ask (or, more importantly, want) my client to be responsible for the details. If you engage a plumber, you'll tell/show him (female gender also implied) roughly what it is you want done. He will then prepare a quote, giving all the details, with a price for the job. You (the client) then accept or reject the quote.

Why should it be different in translating? Why ask the client to determine the rate etc?

In my case, I examine the text, count the words and give a quote. If the client has a deadline, I tell him if it's possible, if not I tell him when I can deliver. My quote says what I'll do in terms of formatting etc if necessary, and it gives my payment terms etc. I then ask the client to reply giving authorisation to do the job according to my quote and giving his address for the invoice and any other details required (VAT no...). When I get that, I start work.

In the case of regular clients, it's often an exchange of:
"Can you do this attached file, Sheila?"
"550 words for Thursday, normal rate, OK?"
"Fine. Go ahead!"

That's a perfectly binding contract when there's an audit trail of a business relationship to show the courts if necessary.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:55
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Did I say that? Aug 5, 2012

Sheila Wilson wrote:
Direct customers are not necessarily used to sending PO's (PO=Purchase Order), but you can ask them for a letter or email stating the same information: volume, deadline, rates, and any other agreements you made with them about the translation job.

I agree that all these things MUST be set out clearly in writing before the job is finally accepted (by you) and authorised (by the client). But I would NEVER ask (or, more importantly, want) my client to be responsible for the details. If you engage a plumber, you'll tell/show him (female gender also implied) roughly what it is you want done. He will then prepare a quote, giving all the details, with a price for the job. You (the client) then accept or reject the quote.

Why should it be different in translating? Why ask the client to determine the rate etc?

I think you got me wrong here: I did not mean AT ALL that the customer should set the price. In fact, I clearly say that these are agreements (as bolded above). I simply meant to say that you should have some written statement from the customer about the conditions agreed, so that you can take that as a proper order.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:55
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Risky (for now) Aug 5, 2012

Sheila Wilson wrote:
In the case of regular clients, it's often an exchange of:
"Can you do this attached file, Sheila?"
"550 words for Thursday, normal rate, OK?"
"Fine. Go ahead!"
That's a perfectly binding contract when there's an audit trail of a business relationship to show the courts if necessary.

It is also my case with regular customers, but this idea is very far from the OP's situation at present. It is best if she for now insists in the existence of a PO and some written confirmation from customers (all of which will be new). Right now, a weak stance about this matter could pose quite a risk of being taken advantage of, if you ask me.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:55
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Don't skip the paperwork, PO or not Aug 6, 2012

My apologies, Tomás, you did indeed say that the PO should reflect the rates. However, I've had several POs over the years where the agency has got various figures wrong on the PO. At best, that wastes time, at worst (and particularly if I'm having a hectic day) I'll just "rubber-stamp" these errors by sending an acceptance e-mail. Which rates have we agreed on then? Mine or theirs?

I think it's better for just one party (the translator) to set them, and for the other party to agree to them. And I'd hate to think of the OP turning down perfectly good jobs simply because the agency doesn't have the time to set everything down on a PO. If she wants the job, and she has the time, why shouldn't she put all the details on paper and simply ask the hard-pressed PM to agree to it?

But on the other hand, I'm not advocating refusing jobs where POs are provided - far from it!icon_smile.gif

As you say, my comments about a very simple exchange of informal emails were only intended for regular customers, so not strictly in line with the OPs original question. However, I think the point is still valid: just because the OP is new to the business doesn't mean that her first good client cannot become a regular one. In that case, sticking rigidly to the need for a PO (particularly for urgent, short jobs) could annoy that client to the point of dropping the translator.

I think we're basically giving the same message to the OP, Tomás: make sure the paperwork has been done and the audit trail is in place before starting work. Believe me, when I get a new client I ensure all the Ts are crossed and all the Is are dotted before I'll translate the first word. The only difference is that I don't insist that those Ts and Is be on a particular piece of paper headed "Purchase Order".


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