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, which is a prerequisite to HRD-705 Effective Business Operations.

Click any of the University Business Process titles below to begin. To enroll in one of the in-person workshops, be sure to click Find upcoming sessions and register.

HRD700- Introduction to University Business Processes (Online)

Introduction to University Business Processes is an online module that explores NU’s business environment and framework for compliance, while identifying key NU business terms, systems, departments and policies. It is a pre-requisite for many other Business Processes workshops, and helps staff members determine a personalized curriculum for business process learning.

To request enrollment, please email your NetID to You will then receive confirmation of your enrollment by the end of the next business day. Once you receive confirmation, log into Blackboard at to view the presentation.

Before you begin, ensure that:

  1. your computer has audio capabilities;
  2. your email program, such as Outlook, is open and functional;
  3. you have about 60 minutes set aside to complete the online course.

HRD705- Effective Business Operations: A Guide to Internal Controls

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. Prerequisite: Introduction to University Business Processes.

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

NOTE: This workshop is currently being re-designed to be accessible online. Details will be posted as they become available. In the interim, please review the Process Maps below for further guidance.

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This workshop builds from Introduction to University Business Processes and Effective Business Operations by exploring purchasing processes in depth. Learn NU’s purchasing philosophy and how to make best value purchases when dealing with a variety of suppliers. Prerequisites: Introduction to University Business Processes (HRD700) and Effective Business Operations (HRD705).

Process Maps

See the Project Café website for information on Project Café training.

Key Points

  • Locate the relevant online resources, policies, procedures and additional training for acquiring goods and services at NU.
  • Determine the control practices you can implement to strengthen your internal purchasing operations.
  • State when to partner with, and what resources and support are provided by: Accounts Payable, ASRSP, Auditing, Depository Services, OSR, Payroll, Purchasing Resource Services, and Project Café.
  • Make purchasing decisions using a method that results in “best value” to your unit and NU.
  • Describe the core purchasing processes to follow and how, depending on the type of supplier (internal, external – preferred and non-preferred) and the type of good or service needed.
  • Determine how and when it is appropriate to use the ProCard and Direct Payment Request (DPR) alternative purchasing methods.
  • Determine which payment process and forms (Contracted Services Form, Additional Pay, Special Pay) to use and the criteria to meet when engaging the services of individuals.
  • Describe how to reimburse individuals for purchases and expenses.
  • Describe how employees may obtain cash or check advance of University funds for travel and non-travel expenses.