Purpose – Prime contractors spend up to 90 per cent of a construction project's turnover on buying goods and services, and thus suppliers have a large impact on project performance. Therefore, the purchasing function management of the prime contractor has a large influence on the overall performance: the more developed (i.e. mature or professional) this function is, the greater its positive contribution. The purpose of this paper is to develop and test a quick scan purchasing maturity tool by applying a design science research method. Design/methodology/approach – The maturity tool is developed by applying Hevner's framework for design science research. In this framework, foundations drawn from the available knowledge base are used to develop the new tool. Scientific justification of this new tool and approval of its approach for construction practice is obtained through testing it in the specific context of a case company. Findings – The tool provides a company with insight into its current level of purchasing maturity and possibilities for improving performance by increasing this level. Originality/value – The conciseness and the limited time required to use the tool are major advantages over existing alternatives for construction practice.