Purchase Orders

Definition of purchase orders

Purchase orders are an agreement between a buyer and seller indicating items, quantities and prices for products that the seller will later provide to the buyer. After receiving the goods, the buyer will provide payment to the seller, most often through invoice processing (see section 2.3 Invoice Processing). For a full explanation about purchase orders, review the Procurement Policy found on the Procurement website.

A purchase order is required before a purchase or commitment has been made for the following:

  • Orders totaling over $500 (including shipping and handling, delivery and tax)
  • Any Technical/IT or furniture purchase (regardless of dollar amount) to allow the University to maintain the established standards
  • To obtain a blanket purchase order for the Campus Store
  • When a vendor requires a purchase order regardless of the dollar amount
  • For service agreements or contracts

Note that purchase orders are not required for travel expenses, meals, utilities, and conference fees.

Procedures to generate a purchase order

To begin the purchase order process, users must login to ProcureSU, Seattle University’s Procure-to-Pay system. Identify the good or service that they’d like to purchase and place the order. Orders will automatically be routed to be approved by the respective authority prior to entering into an agreement and generating the purchase order. Below is a breakdown of the approvals required for each expenditure level, note that they are cumulative. For example, a purchase order requisition is submitted for $90,000 would require approval from the VP, AVP, and Finance Manager in order to be accepted.


Expenditure Authority

Activity Manager

Under $5,000

 Reporting Unit Chair/Director/Supervisor

 $5,000 to $20,000 

AVP/Assoc. Provost/Dean/Head of Athletics/Librarian

$20,001 to $50,000


$50,001 to $100,000


$100,001 to $1,000,000


Over $1,000,000


Procurement will review the order and, if satisfactory, a purchase order will be generated and emailed to the company. The billing contact listed on the purchase order requisition will be copied on the email to the vendor and will receive an electronic purchase order. When a purchase order is created, an encumbrance is automatically placed on the budget GL Account listed on the purchase order requisition form, which reduces the available budget. This is a reminder that an order has been placed and a future expense will occur.

Procedures to pay an invoice that has a purchase order

Please check to see that the vendor included the purchase order number on the invoice before sending to payables@seattleu.edu. If the purchase order number is missing, please include it.

When Accounts Payable receives the invoice, they will attach a digital copy to the Purchase order in ProcureSU. If the goods or services have been received and the price and quantity match, Accounts Payable will pay the invoice and the encumbrance will be closed. Partially paid purchase orders will have encumbrances that will remain open until the entire order has been paid.

For orders that have been completed because they were modified or canceled, or for orders that have been paid but remain open, the reporting unit should complete a ProcureSU Purchase Order Change Request form to close the purchase order and remove the encumbrance.

If an invoice or reimbursement requiring a purchase order is submitted for payment but failed to receive a purchase order before placing the order, the invoice or reimbursement will be sent back to the person responsible. They will need to go through the process of obtaining a purchase order before a payment can be made. By skipping the purchase order process, there is no guarantee that a purchase order will later be obtained or a payment made.