format_list_bulleted Topic Overview

Purchase Order Process

A non-catalog purchase requisition, also called a non-catalog request, is a purchasing method through iProcurement that is used to purchase goods and services that are:

  • Not covered by a contract
  • Typically not available through the catalog purchasing methods (e.g., Amazon Business or SmartMart Catalog Suppliers). Before creating a new non-catalog purchase requisition, Stanford purchasers should review goods available through catalog purchasing methods, which offer a streamlined and efficient ordering process.

All purchase requisitions must be in compliance with Stanford’s purchasing policies and guidelines. The purchase requisition process facilitates appropriate financial approval and the creation of a purchase order, which serves as the legal document for the transaction between Stanford and the supplier of the goods or services.

When the purchase involves a signed agreement negotiated by two or more parties, such as when a business unit, school, or department hires a non-Stanford, outside company or individual to perform a service for Stanford, the purchase must begin with and follow the contract process. This process facilitates the appropriate review and signature of the contract by the Procurement Services Contracts team and possibly also the supplier.

Certain categories of purchases, such as Capital Purchases or Special Goods, require additional actions in the procurement process.

The Purchase Order (PO) process has the following five stages: 

All purchase requisitions begin with a discussion among stakeholders to analyze the need for a good or service. This includes obtaining competitive quotes from suppliers with pricing for the desired goods or services for the non-catalog purchase requisition. 

In order to create and complete a non-catalog purchase requisition, schools and units will need to select a new supplier and ensure they have an active record in the university’s database:

  • Prior to engaging any supplier, schools and units should review the Topic Overview: Selecting a Supplier, which provides best practices and considerations for the supplier selection process, including facilitating a competitive purchasing process. For purchases $25,000 or greater, specific documentation is required. 
  • Once a supplier is selected, schools and units should check to see if a supplier or payee is in the Supplier Query and Request System before making a new request. If they do not have an active record, they should follow the process for setting up a new supplier

When the purchase requires a Stanford signature and therefore a contract, schools and units must begin the contract process by submitting a contract request in the SmartMart Contracts system. Then, if the contract requires funding, a purchase requisition is generated in iProcurement. See more on the Contracts process page. 

A purchase order begins with a purchase requisition in iProcurement. The requisition preparer will complete the following required fields in the purchase requisition. Refer to How To: Create a Standard Non-Catalog Requisition for detailed information on this process:

  • Financial Information and Approval: Add the project, task, award and expenditure type information in the billing information section. A financial approver is auto-populated in the requisition based on the PTA and dollar amount being requested. All Stanford purchase requisitions must be approved by individuals within the school or unit with the appropriate financial authority for the PTAE used. Financial approvers are designated and managed by the department in charge of the PTAE. Users can look up financial approvers by project and task using the Financial Approval Authority Query tool in Oracle. Users can select another approver with adequate authority and remove the pre-generated approver if appropriate. 
  • Requisition Attachments: If the purchase is $25,000 or greater, attach the supplier’s quote as well as competitive quotes, proposals or bids from other suppliers or a single or sole source justification form to the purchase requisition. For more details on the documentation needed for the competitive supplier selection process, refer to Topic Overview: Selecting a Supplier.  

The preparer can submit the purchase requisition for financial approval after completing all of the required fields in the purchase requisition.

After accepting or changing the designated financial approver(s) within the school or unit, the purchase requisition moves to the review and approval stage.

Approved non-catalog purchase orders (PO) are delivered to the supplier directly via email. To review any aspects of the PO, users may access the Requisition and Purchase Order Query tool, which is one of the SU Inquiry Tools and Forms in Oracle Financials. 

There are several activities that can occur when a PO becomes active: 

Change Orders are not recommended for catalog (e.g., Amazon or SmartMart Catalog Suppliers) purchase orders because they are usually fulfilled and completed quickly. 

Activity Action
Cancel a Purchase Requisition or a Purchase Order A PO can be cancelled as long as the vendor agrees, there are no matched or paid invoices on the PO, and goods have not been received. To cancel a purchase order, to submit a support request. Refer to How To: Cancel a Purchase Requisition or Purchase Order (PO) for more information. 
Add Funds
Change a PTA
Change an Expenditure Type Submit a change order. Refer to How To: Change a Standard Non-Catalog Purchase Order.
Manage Potential Issues or Disputes Refer to the Topic Overview: Managing the Supplier Relationship and Record for more information on how to manage disputes with suppliers when the delivered product or service is not meeting expectations. In some situations, schools and units can request that the Accounts Payable (AP) team place a hold on an invoice, allowing additional time to communicate with the supplier and reach a reasonable resolution. 
Submit an Invoice for Processing Accounts Payable processes an invoice and schedules payment per the terms specified on the purchase order (e.g. Net 30 days from date of invoice). Learn more: Topic Overview: Purchase Order Invoice Processing.


It is a good practice to Finally Close any completed or inactive purchase orders to reduce risk and support accurate financial reporting. When a PO is finally closed, any outstanding commitments are relieved. There are two ways a PO can be Finally closed:

  • Departments may Finally Close a PO: Once all goods and services have been received, invoiced and paid, the PO can be finally closed by the department using Requisition and Purchase Order Query. Prior to finally closing a PO, the requester should confirm that there will be no further activity on the PO. For more information, refer to How To: Finally Close a Purchase Order (PO)
  • Automated Process to Finally Close a PO: When a PO meets the following criteria; the PO has not had any activity including invoices or change order for over three years and there are no outstanding commitments, it is Finally Closed through an automated process managed by Procurement Services. 
Last Updated: Nov 9, 2022