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What is a Purchase Order?

A purchase order (PO) is a legally binding document between a supplier and the University for purchases of goods and/or services. Ensuring orders are placed or confirmed via PO ensures that agreed terms can be enforced and expenditure is appropriately authorised in advance. Orders can be cancelled or amended if required.

Purchasing IT Equipment

IT equipment (PCs, monitors, cables, software) must be purchased directly by the Department and cannot be reclaimed via expenses. Details of the equipment you require should be sent to the IT team, The IT team will obtain quotes and advise on suitability of equipment requested. 

When emailing the IT Help address you will be provided with a ticket number to ensure your request is tracked. Please do not email IT or Finance staff directly to purchase IT equipment. 

Purchasing Goods and Services

If you will be making purchases of any kind, you will require access to the University’s iProcurement system. To arrange access please send an email to providing your full name, Oxford username (SSO) and employee number.

You will be contacted directly by the University’s central finance team once your log-in has been enabled and notified of training requirements (if applicable).

Raising a Purchase Order

You can raise POs yourself, ask a member of your team or request that the finance team raise one on your behalf. 

How long does it take for a Purchase Order to be raised and approved?

POs are usually created within 1 working day. If your request is urgent please mark your email as high priority.

Purchase Order Process

  1. Identify an appropriate supplier. Please review the University's preferred suppliers list before contacting alternative suppliers for a quote.
  2. If applicable, contact the supplier and request a quote. See the 'Do I need to obtain a quote?' section below for further guidance.
  3. Place an order via R12 iProcurement as described above. Please note that some suppliers on iProcurement, such as Office Depot, have online catalogues and goods can be searched for online without having to contact the supplier in advance.
  4. The order will be approved by a member of the finance team with appropriate financial authority. The PO will be generated automatically during the same working day.
  5. Orders for Dell, XMA, Office Depot and Key Travel are sent automatically to the supplier. Finance will supply a copy of other supplier POs for you to forward on via email.
  6. When the goods/services have been received please receipt them on R12 (if access is available) or email the finance team to advise receipt.
  7. The PO will remain open on the system until the invoice is input. If the invoice is sent to you directly please forward to or pop a paper copy in the finance pigeon hole/in-tray.

Do I need to obtain a quote?

The University has in place a number of sole-source or preferred supplier agreements. These contracts ensure that suppliers have been assessed for suitability and that services and/or goods meet agreed terms and service levels, often with discounted pricing. Where these suppliers are used the requirement to obtain quotes for most purchases is relaxed.

The table below documents the levels at which quotes are required for preferred and non-preferred suppliers. It is possible to use non-preferred suppliers (even where a preferred supplier can supply your goods/service) as long as we clearly document the reasons why, e.g., quality, service delivery.

Financial limits applicable to quotations

Limit £000

Preferred Supplier

Other Supplier


No quote required           

Confirmation of price required


No quote required           

Two written quotes required


Departmental tender      

Departmental tender


Purchasing Office             

Purchasing Office

Please contact at the earliest opportunity for purchases over £25k to obtain assistance arranging a departmental tender.


need to appoint an individual to provide consultancy or other services?

Please follow this link

need to raise an order for travel or accommodation?

Please follow this link

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