How to buy

Departments at the University of Michigan purchase a wide variety of products and services - from computers and lab supplies to catering and events - while fulfilling the institution's objectives in education, research and service. Procurement Services is responsible for assisting departments in the procurement process in the most economic and convenient way possible, while ensuring compliance with university policies and principles. Contact one of the procurement teams for assistance with your procurement needs.

Before you make a purchase, you should consider which of the buying options is appropriate for the transaction. In some cases, more than one option may work for a particular transaction; but usually there is a “best” option in terms of price, time savings, and departmental and central office administrative costs.

Note:
The U-M Board of Regents requires that all transactions $5,000 or greater be competitively bid by Procurement Services to ensure that prices are fair and reasonable.  Faculty and staff are authorized to complete transactions totaling less than $5,000 (some restrictions apply, such as approvals for the purchase of radioactive chemicals or where signature is required on a contract).  All transactions $5,000 or greater must be handled by Procurement Services.

The buying methods at a glance
The buying methods are listed below in the order in which you should consider using them. Click the links to find more information about each buying option. Review the Procurement Services Buying Guidelines for information about key procurement policies and procedures.

University Contracts have negotiated university pricing and offer benefits of lower procurement costs, higher supplier performance levels, and increased value-added services.  The university currently has over 180 contracts available, providing a wide variety of products and services.

Ordering through internal service units and University Contracts can be cost effective and save you valuable time. Orders are placed online, or by phone or fax. Payments are made through electronic service unit billing or eSettlements, which significantly reduces the cost to the university for check printing and mailing.

The ePro requisition (ePro req) is used for all transactions that require a purchase order (PO) be sent to the vendor (any dollar amount). It is also used for transactions $5,000 and greater, and those requiring special approvals.

The P-Card may be used to purchase items not available through internal service units or University Contracts. It is often used to pay for travel, hosting functions, dues, and subscriptions.

The non-PO voucher is not a buying method but a payment method. It is used primarily for reimbursements, or when a supplier will not accept a purchase order or P-Card. Purchases using the non-PO voucher are subject to the same policies and procedures as for ePro req and P-Card.