FinancePurchasing goods and services from external suppliers

How to buy goods and services for the University

The University is committed to obtaining best value for money and maintaining the highest standards of efficiency and integrity in the purchase of goods and services. It is essential that all staff who commit expenditure are aware of the obligations placed upon them and comply with the University's Procurement Policy, Procedures and Guidelines as well as EU legislation. Procurement guidance can be found on the Procurement web pages.

There are a number of different Procurement routes that may be appropriate, depending on what you wish to buy and who you wish to buy it from.

The first step is to identify the need for the goods/service:

  • Has a genuine business need been identified?
  • Is the financial impact of the purchase understood?
  • Has the funding been identified for the purchase?
  • Have the correct purchasing procedures been followed?

The second step is to determine:

  • What do I want to buy?
  • Who will provide this?
  • When do I need to purchase by?

The who and when helps to guide you towards the most appropriate procurement route based on circumstances. There are various national, regional and local framework agreements in place that have been negotiated by the University Procurement Services team. Should you have a requirement for goods that are not covered by a Framework Agreement then there are various thresholds used to determine whether the purchase should be handled under the quotation or tender process based on the proposed level of expenditure involved. Guidance can be found on the Procurement web pages.

The available procurement routes are:

  • An FMS requisition is the preferred buying route wherever possible.
  • A departmental purchase card should be used where the supplier is not on FMS – for example, online-only suppliers – and for transactions generally of lower value (typically under £3,000).
  • A request for payment form should only be used for suppliers who cannot process purchase orders or accept a Purchase Card.
  • A University traveller purchase card may be issued to frequent travellers, at the Head of Department’s discretion, for incidental business costs incurred whilst travelling.
  • An expense claim can be used for retrospective reimbursement of incidental business costs.
  • petty cash is in general for unplanned departmental sundry items less than £20.

FMS Requisitions

Orders should be placed in accordance with the University’s Conditions of Contract. Details can be found on the Procurement web pages.

Orders may only be placed through the University’s Finance System, FMS, by raising a requisition. FMS training resources can be found on the FMS Training Portal (SharePoint login required)

The FMS workflow aims to ensure that the requisition is complete and accurate before being authorised by an appropriate approver and converted into an order for electronic transmission to the supplier.

Goods receipting is an essential part of the FMS workflow. Goods receipting is effectively an authority to pay. When goods or services are received, the relevant Departmental user must record this on FMS. Goods should only be receipted when the Department is satisfied that the goods are what was ordered, are of an appropriate quality, and if relevant, are also in good working order. Goods may be partially or fully receipted on FMS.

Invoices are sent by Suppliers direct to Finance. Finance scan the invoice into FMS and match it against an order and goods receipt on the FMS. If the invoice payment details correspond, within an agreed tolerance, to the order and goods received details, then the Invoice will be flagged for payment by its due date.

Payment to suppliers will in most cases be by bank transfer, as the most efficient and secure means.

The FMS workflow is as follows:

  1. Requisition raised
    • Raise requisition on FMS
    • Workflow to relevant Approver(s) for authorisation
    • If supplier not on FMS, follow new supplier request process
  2. Purchase order created
    • Purchase order (PO) created automatically and sent electronically to suppler
    • On approval of the requisition the FMS automatically converts the requisition into a PO and confirmation email sent to requisitioner
  3. Good receipted
    • Department records receipt of goods/services against order on FMS
    • Goods/services may be fully receipted or partly receipted
  4. Invoice received
    • Finance receive and scan invoice directly from supplier
    • Invoice is matched against PO and Good Receipt details held on FMS
    • In general only when matching process is unsuccessful will the scanned invoice require to be work flowed to originating department
  5. Payment to supplier
    • Payment to supplier in most instances by bank transfer

Request for payment (RFP)

RFP forms should be sent directly to

Request for Payment form

Other procurement routes

Information on the other Procurement Routes can be found on the relevant web pages: