Purchase to Pay process

p2p process flow diagram


  1. Purchase to Pay
  2. Obtain quotations or tenders
  3. Select a supplier
  4. Order via Internal Trade
  5. Order with a Purchase order
  6. Order without a Purchase Order
  7. Receive/reject goods or services
  8. Process Invoices
  9. Make payment

The Purchase to Pay process describes how to compete, order, receive and pay for goods or services. It has been written in support of the Financial Regulations to ensure the University achieves value for money in its purchases.

Value for money is the optimum combination of whole-life cost, environmental sustainability & social value considerations, risk and quality:

  • Whole-life cost includes not only the initial purchase price, but also the cost of using and maintaining the goods or services throughout their useful life and the cost of disposal.
  • Risk will vary with each purchase but must be managed using the principles of assessing probability, determining impact and planning possible mitigation.
  • Quality is a balance of factors such as functionality, reliability, support, innovation and delivery.

Before you start

It is important that a genuine business need is identified before any purchase of goods or services. 

Consider if the goods or services are available within your department (e.g. from a store) or alternatively whether another department can supply through Internal Trade.

Any personal interests that might impinge, or might reasonably be deemed by others to impinge, on an individual's impartiality to make a purchasing decision should be declared and managed. Further information can be found in the University’s statement of policy and procedure on conflict of interest, and advice can also be sought from the Conflict of Interest Committee.

Note: Capital building projects

Refer to the Estates Standing Orders for capital building projects, which requires all capital building projects to be procured through Estates Services


Note: Online marketplaces

Although there is no specific prohibition on using online marketplaces at the University, departments should refer to the published guidance which will enable them to understand and assess the risks and benefits of their use.


Key controls

Segregation of duties

No one member of University staff should complete all the steps of the Purchase to Pay process – this is a key financial control. For example, requisition preparation, approval and receipting, should be completed by a minimum of two people. If this is not possible, the Purchase to Pay Audit report should be used as a compensating control. For further advice contact the Financial Assurance Team.

Delegation of authority

Before committing to a purchase the financial impact must be fully understood, the funding identified and all necessary authorisations obtained. Purchases should be approved by appropriate signatories with delegated financial and contractual authority to commit the University to expenditure in advance of making any commitment to a supplier.

Spin out companies

It is not acceptable for the University to purchase goods or services on behalf of spin-out companies or allow spin-out companies to access University systems to place orders, for the following reasons:

  • For legal reasons the University should not act as an agent for spin-out companies
  • Existing preferred supplier agreements only cover purchases made by University staff on behalf of the University
  • Under current licence arrangements spin-out companies are not permitted to use University systems (such as Oracle Financials) for their own account
  • There are VAT issues with the University purchasing goods or services for onward sale to spin-out companies
  • The University would be providing a taxable service to spin-out companies for which it would have to make a charge.

Contact us

 : Purchasing Department
       Finance Division
       University of Oxford
       23-38 Hythe Bridge Street
       Oxford OX1 2ET

 :  01865 (6) 16022

 : For further information
      please contact the
      Purchasing Department