Procurement MethodsThis chart summarizes the 5 main procurement methods at Northwestern University:
|Most purchases should start
with a Standard Requisition
|Other procurement methods|
|To request a
check to pay
that do not fit
the normal PO
|To pay for
do not require
a PO (such as
not to be
Most purchases of most goods and services from outside vendors are to begin with the initiation of a Requisition in NUFinancials (either a catalog Requisition through iBuyNU or a non-catalog Requisition).
- Requisitions must be initiated at the time the product or service needs to be ordered, not when it is time to pay for the product or service.
- Requisitions need to be detailed and correct.
- A Requisition ID begins with the prefix REQ.
- A fully approved and budget checked Requisition is automatically sourced into a Purchase Order that begins with the prefix PUR during normal batch processing (no manual intervention by PRS is necessary in most cases).
- The official Purchase Order is then sent to the vendor.
- This process occurs multiple times per day, and once the sourcing process runs, all purchase orders are then almost immediately dispatched to the vendors. This eliminates the need and perceived benefits associated with phone orders and blanket orders.
- The system provides an appropriate audit trail since all transactions are captured in the system specific to each individual purchase, putting the University in the best position to pay for purchases in a timely manner.
- Starting with a Requisition ensures that an approved and official Purchase Order is issued. The Purchase Order includes Northwestern’s standard terms and conditions, which is the legal document that governs the transaction and properly protects the department/school and University.
- iBuyNU (Catalog) Requisition
Catalog requisitions are used to purchase from preferred vendors that are included in iBuyNU, which can be accessed from the NU Portal. Electronic invoices are automatically sent to Accounts Payable. Purchases made in iBuyNU do not have to be approved by PRS because all iBuyNU vendors are Preferred Vendors. Learn more about the benefits of using iBuyNU.
- Non-Catalog Requisition
Non-catalog requisitions should be used for purchases from non-preferred vendors as well as preferred vendors that are not enabled in iBuyNU. NUFinancials does not restrict your ability to order from any vendor. There is more manual entry required for these orders. Orders are generally dispatched by NU’s fax server multiple times per day and invoices are sent by mail or fax to NU Accounts Payable.
There are three Special Requisition types. There is an option to select one of these types in the Requistion initiation process in NUFinancials.
- Grant Subcontracts
These requisitions do NOT require PRS approval.
- Negotiated with the subcontractor through the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR)
- Needs to be initiated (check the 'special Requisition type' box for Grant Subcontract in NUFinancials), which will be sourced into a Purchase Order but will not be sent to subcontractor
- Receive by Dollar Amount
This requisition should be used for services when the actual amount due after completion of the project may differ from the original quote that the Purchase Order was based on. This allows departments/schools to receive by dollar amount as opposed to by quantity.
- Can be used for lengthy service projects that involve more than one invoice to be paid over several months, or if project requires deposit and then second payment upon completion of project
- NOT to be used as a method to pay multiple invoices to a vendor when products are ordered. You must create a standard requisition for each of these orders.
PRS has identified some exceptions for certain transaction types that are considered low dollar and low risk, where a formal Purchase Order may not be as necessary. These guidelines are only meant to clarify payment options for certain services: they do not change any other Northwestern or department/school policies and procedures. Please review the Alternative Payment Method Guidelines (PDF).
The following alternative procurement methods are available: