format_list_bulleted Topic Overview

Purchase Orders

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 lifecycle of a Purchase Order (PO) typically includes the following six 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 $50,000 or greater after taxes and fees, 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 automatically 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 and to the Resource: Non-Catalog Request Types for definitions and best practices when selecting a requisition type:

  • Financial Information and Approval: Add the project, task, award and expenditure type (PTAE) information in the billing information section. A financial approver is auto-populated in the requisition based on the PTAE 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. Refer to Resource: PTAEO and PFOO Defined for more details on the PTAEO account structure used to record university expenditures and the PFOO account structure used to record assets, liabilities, revenue, and fund transfers. 
  • Requisition Attachments: If the purchase is $50,000 or greater after taxes and fees, attach the supplier’s quote as well as attestation of price reasonableness (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. If the requisition was created from a contract request and the pricing information (e.g., price per hour, total number of hours, price per deliverable, or lump sum pricing for the total amount of work) is fragmented across multiple pages of the proposal and/or Statement of Work, ensure all documents containing pricing information are also attached to the requisition.

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
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 $50,000 or greater after taxes and fees, requesters must comply with the university’s competitive supplier selection policy.

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, PTA changes can be made on eligible and active POs using self-service functionality that is available in the Requisition and Purchase Order Query tool. Refer to How To: Change a PTA on an Approved Purchase Order for more information. 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.

Canceling POs with no invoice activity
There are occasions when an approved purchase order may no longer be fulfilled or invoiced. This may be a result of a supplier no longer being able to fulfill an order or, a department may no longer need the goods or services. Prior to canceling a PO in Stanford’s financial systems, departments should notify the supplier. 

If the PO has no invoice activity, it can be canceled using self-service functionality that is available in the Requisition and Purchase Orders Query tool. Refer to How To: Cancel a Purchase Requisition or Purchase Order (PO) for more information. 

Finally Closing eligible POs

If the PO has previous and/or current invoice activity, it becomes eligible to be Finally Closed when:

  • All goods and services have been fulfilled
  • All invoices have been processed and paid 
  • No further transactions or changes will occur on the PO 

It is a good practice to Finally Close eligible purchase orders to reduce risk and support accurate financial reporting. When a PO is Finally Closed, any outstanding commitments are also relieved. 

The Finally Close action is permanent and cannot be reversed. If the Finally Close action was taken in error, a new PO must be created to replace the Finally Closed PO. POs that have not received an invoice cannot be Finally Closed and must be canceled instead.

 A PO can be Finally Closed in two ways:

  • Departments may Finally Close a PO: Eligible POs can be Finally Closed by a department preparer using Requisition and Purchase Order Query. For more information, refer to How To: Finally Close a Purchase Order (PO); or
  • Automated Process to Finally Close a PO: When a PO meets the following criteria, it is Finally Closed through an automated process managed by Procurement Services:
    • The PO has not had any activity including invoices or change order for over three years; and
    • There are no outstanding commitments. 

Purchase Order Suppression and Finally Closing a PO

PO Suppression hides the open commitment on the PO from financial reports. However, it does not impact the PO itself since funds still remain available for Accounts Payable (AP) to make payments on invoices and the PO can continue to accept change orders. In contrast, Finally Closing a PO removes all remaining available funds and permanently prevents any future invoices and change orders to inactive POs that will no longer be used.

The below table summarizes the difference between Finally Closing and suppressing a PO:

Finally Close a PO Suppression
Does not allow new receipts/ payments to be matched against the PO Allows processing of new receipts/ payments
PO cannot be modified PO can be modified
Releases unused commitments back to the PTA Does not relieve commitments
Finally Closed POs will have $0 open commitments Suppressed PO lines with open commitments are hidden from reports
Must close entire PO Can suppress individual lines

Refer to Reporting: OBI Dashboard: Procure to Pay Dashboard and Reports (P2P) to learn about several Oracle Business Intelligence (OBI) reports that can help preparers identify POs with open commitments.

  • Approved
  • Cancelled
  • In Process
  • Incomplete
  • Pre-Approved
  • Rejected
  • Requires Reapproval
  • Return In Process
  • Returned
Last Updated: May 3, 2024