University Business Processes

Whether you're a new or seasoned employee at Northwestern, keeping up-to-date with University business processes is essential. Tip: Begin with HRD700- Introduction to University Business Processes.

Click any of the University Business Process titles below to begin.

HRD700- Introduction to University Business Processes (Online)

Introduction to University Business Processes is an online module that explores Northwestern’s business environment and framework for compliance, while identifying key University business terms, systems, departments and policies. It is recommended that employees view this online module before viewing additional business process modules.

HRD705- Effective Business Operations: A Guide to Internal Controls (Online)

Effective Business Operations: A Guide to Internal Controls helps University employees to effectively and efficiently administer operations; keep reliable financial records; produce accurate reports; comply with University policies, procedures, laws and regulations; and safeguard University assets. 

Key Points

  • Find out what can happen if adequate controls are not in place
  • Learn the key control elements and how they relate to one’s job
  • Obtain a self-assessment tool to evaluate internal operations
  • Identify whom to contact with questions or concerns about business operations

HRD715- Purchasing and Payments (Online)

Purchasing and Payments builds from Introduction to University Business Processes and Effective Business Operations by exploring purchasing processes in depth.


Purchasing and Payments consists of a series of self-paced online modules and Process Maps, accessible anytime from a web-enabled PC or Mac. No registration is required.


Learn Northwestern’s purchasing philosophy and how to make best value purchases when dealing with a variety of suppliers.


Key Points

  • Identify the core purchasing processes to follow and how, depending on the type of supplier (University Department, Preferred Vendor, or Non-Preferred Vendor) and the type of good or service needed.
  • Determine how and when it is appropriate to use PO payment methods and non-PO payment methods (Procurement Card, Online Voucher: Direct Payment Request).
  • Locate the relevant online resources, policies, procedures and additional training for acquiring goods and services at Northwestern.
  • Determine the control practices you can implement to strengthen your internal purchasing operations.
  • Make purchasing decisions using a method that results in “best value” to your unit and the University.

Online Modules

It's recommended that you begin by viewing the Introduction and Overview module. Additional modules will be posted as they become available. Please check back or follow us on Twitter for updates.


Process Maps

The following Process Maps were created as a learning tool as part of Purchasing and Payments, but have come to be a more broadly used on-the-job tool for day-to-day assistance with purchasing and payments processes.


These Process Maps follow the same procurement process that is explored in the online module.

Please share your feedback about the Process Maps above by completing a brief survey.


The following Process Map below is being updated to reflect the new look and feel and will be posted as soon as it is available.

Reference the Purchasing and Payment Methods Quick Reference Guide PDF for additional guidance, and see the Finance, Facilites, and Research Administration web site for information on Finance, Facilites, and Research Administration training.