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 There are different processes for canceling a purchase requisition or a purchase order. For more details, refer to: How To: Cancel a Purchase Requisition/Purchase Order (PO).
Add Funds

In most cases, schools and units should not add funds to an active PO. A new purchase requisition should be created for any new transactions. Funds should typically only be added to pay the final associated invoice by:

The updated PO is not sent to the supplier, unless specifically requested, to avoid possible duplicate shipments. 

Please note: After adding funds, if the total amount now exceeds $25,000, requesters must comply with the university’s competitive supplier selection process.

Change a PTA

If the invoice is already paid, use iJournals to transfer the expense to the correct PTA and/or Expenditure Type Code. If the invoice is not already paid and there is:

If there is only one remaining unpaid invoice, consider using iJournals to transfer the expense to the correct PTA and/or Expenditure Type Code after the invoice is paid. 

Change an Expenditure Type If the invoice is already paid, use iJournals to transfer the expense to the correct PTA and/or Expenditure Type Code. If the invoice is not already paid, submit a change 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 on the 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. A PO can be Finally closed in two ways:

  • 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. 

Standard Blanket POs should be limited to very specific cases such as recurring deliveries or if schools and units need to place complex orders directly through a supplier’s website. Examples include weekly gas deliveries and DNA sequencing or oligos. Below are best practices for creating and managing Standard Blanket transactions:

  • New Standard Blanket requests: Standard Blanket purchase requisitions should be adequately funded to cover recurring deliveries of goods. A new purchase requisition should be created for any new transactions.
  • Managing an existing Standard Blanket PO: Departments should frequently review invoices to ensure:
    • Goods were delivered and correctly invoiced
    • There are sufficient funds remaining. A new Standard Blanket purchase requisition should be created if there are no remaining funds available on the existing Standard Blanket PO.
    • The PTA(s) are still valid. To change a PTA, refer to How To: Change a PTA on an Approved Purchase Order
  • Finally Close a Blanket PO: Once the Blanket PO is completed or inactive, finally close the blanket PO to relieve any remaining commitments. 
Last Updated: Mar 1, 2023