Purchase to Pay process

Please use the steps below when following the 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 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, 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.

Before committing to a purchase the financial impact must be fully understood, the funding identified and all necessary authorisations obtained.

Note: Purchasing equipment

Equipment over £50,000 must be recorded as a fixed asset (see the Managing Departmental Assets process)

Refer to information regarding Purchasing Equipment Over £100,000 guidance (under 'Obtain quotations or tenders') for specific guidance before proceeding.


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.


Note: Purchasing Projects Inbox

Effective from Monday 17 October all requests for Purchasing Department support for over £100k tenders or tender exemptions, and review of non-standard terms and conditions should be sent to purchasingprojects@admin.ox.ac.uk. Requests for support should include a completed Procurement Initiation Form which captures basic details regarding the requirement. This change is being introduced to enable us to ensure work is appropriately allocated between team members and to assist with ongoing tracking of projects, in light of the increasing volume of support requests.

For general purchasing enquiries the existing inbox (purchasing@admin.ox.ac.uk) remains in operation. This change does not apply to colleagues in Estates Services, who should continue to contact the local procurement team in the first instance.


Conflict of Interest

Any personal or close family interests that might impinge, or might reasonably be deemed by others to impinge, on an employee's impartiality should be declared and managed. Declaring an interest is not intended to stop the activity, but to ensure adequate management plans are in place. It is not possible to provide a comprehensive definition of potential conflicts; if an individual is uncertain, it is preferable to make a declaration and if necessary, advice should be sought from the Conflict of Interest Committee.
Note: Staff engaged in purchasing activity should be invited to sign a Declaration of No Financial or Business Interests form. (DOC)

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 – purchases should be approved by an appropriate signatory with delegated authority to commit the University to expenditure. This is particularly important in the University where decision-making, including supplier selection, is devolved to departments.

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
       6 Worcester Street
       Oxford OX1 2BX

 :  01865 (6) 16022

 : For further information
      please contact the
      Purchasing Department