Ariba Blanket Purchase Orders

Not sure if BPO is right for your purchase? Check out the Ariba Buying Portal!

Understanding Blanket Purchase Orders


An eProcurement (Ariba) Blanket Purchase Order (BPO) is an agreement to spend a specific amount of money with a supplier over a period of time. It may or may not specify the items or services you will purchase. Examples of BPOs are: standing orders, maintenance/service contracts, and open orders.

Departments should initiate a BPO when:

  • The goods or services are recurring purchases.
  • The order involves variable dollar amounts and/or quantities.
  • The goods or services on an order may change over time.
  • The maximum order amount may need to be adjusted over time.
  • The order has specific contract start and end dates.

Some benefits of Ariba BPOs are:

  • Real-time monitoring of spend
  • Email notification prior to order expiration date or when a pre-set low balance threshold is met
  • Ability to review invoices and receive before releasing payment on all invoices
  • Ability to review budget commitments in MyFD using the Encumbrances and Open Balances Report
  • Automatic return of credits to a BPO's balance
  • Ability to change budgets, or budget allocations by spend or percentage

General Information Including Supplier Requirements

  • In order for departments to be able to use BPO, their suppliers must be:

  • You can determine whether or not a supplier meets the criteria by using the Supplier Search Procurement Desktop Report (PDR). The report allows you to search by the supplier name, starting letter of the supplier name or six-digit supplier (vendor) number. Below is an example of how the report appears for a supplier that can be used for a BPO:

    • If you cannot find your vendor in eProcurement or the Supplier Search PDR, or if there is a "N" displayed for any of the PDR criteria, please visit the Ariba Buying Portal. There are links to common questions and requests in its Help section.
  • All users with access to eProcurement are able to initiate a BPO on behalf of themselves or other individuals.
  • Receiving is mandatory for BPOs. Users must confirm goods or services are received in good condition, and process the receipt to allow invoices to be paid.
  • BPOs over the Direct Buy Limit will be routed to Purchasing, for a buyer's review and approval.
    • Each buyer is an expert at certain commodity groups. The buyers who may review your BPO are based on your answer to the question, "What is this order for?"
  • Starting 5/17, Subaward BPOs will be routed to Purchasing, for review and approval.  Items on the subaward BPOs will default to the 03-62 account/object code.  Even if the BPO is above the Direct Buy Limit, no Sole Source Justification questions will appear and need to be answered.
  • Any BPOs that use a 40-XXXX budget will route to the Capital Projects Office (CPO), for review and approval.  Even if the BPO is above the Direct Buy Limit, no Sole Source Justification questions will appear and need to be answered.
  • When you add attachments to a CR or BPO, note that there is a 4 MB per document limitation and an overall 10MB per CR or BPO.  You can have multiple attachments as long as you don’t go over 10MB.  Once you hit this limit the system will not send the attachment over the Ariba Network.
    • The valid file types are: txt, csv, xls, xlsx, doc, docx, dotx, potx, ppt, pptx, ppsx, sldx, xltx, pdf, ps, rtf, htm, html, xml, jpeg, jpg, bmp, gif, png, zip.


To learn how to initiate a BPO, visit our Training & Events page, where you can:

  • Watch an eLearning, titled Creating a Blanket Purchase Order, located in our Independent Study page, under Buying in eProcurement.
  • Enroll in a classroom training session, titled Creating a Blanket Purchase Order in eProcurement, in our Training Opportunities page.

Best Practices

  • Ensure that you have chosen the correct supplier, before submitting a BPO for approval.
  • For a catalog supplier, you should first attempt to use the supplier's catalog before resorting to creating a BPO.
  • Do not use Internet Explorer to create a BPO. We strongly recommend that you use Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. For more information, see our Supported Browsers page.
  • Ensure accuracy of contract periods, budgets, account codes, dollar amounts, part numbers, et cetera.
    • Note: If a BPO is over the Direct Buy Limit and is routed to a buyer, changes that a buyer must make to information entered by the Preparer (from the department) will restart the approval process.
  • Enter a meaningful and easily understood title and description for your BPO.
  • Understand Sole Source Justification requirements.
    • Orders over the Direct Buy Limit: If you're purchasing goods or services through a UW-contracted supplier, note the contract number in the Additional Sole Source Justification text box.
  • When scanning a document to attach to a BPO, be mindful of the image resolution and document size you use.
  • Redact sensitive information from attachments, such as Social Security Numbers, bank account information, et cetera.
  • For communication between departments and buyers on a CR, use the Internal Comments.  Comments in this section will not be transmitted to the supplier.
    • For comments that you want the supplier to see, use the Comments field in the Summary section of the BPO.

Process Flow

Below is a visual of a BPO's life cycle.  Note that when a BPO is first initiated, it is called a Contract Request (CR).  Once the order is fully approved, Ariba will create another unique reference number that starts with the prefix BPO.

Initiating a BPO

Certain sections and fields of the CR form need to be completed before the CR can be submitted for approval.  See below for some tips on the following BPO sections.  For more in-depth guidance and step-by-step instructions on how to create BPOs, check out our BPO eLearning tutorial!

  • Log into eProcurement.
  • On the upper left-hand corner of your screen, click Create and choose Contract Request on the drop down menu:

  • Enter general requirements for the BPO, such as: Title, Description, Related Contract ID, Effective Date, Expiration Date, Final Invoice Date, Supplier Name, Supplier Location, Shipping and Delivery Information, if the BPO is for an Exception Item or if it is for a Subaward.
    • If the BPO supercedes a previous PO (such as an expired PAS PO), enter the old PO number in the Related Contract ID field of the Contract Request.
    • The individual who initiates a BPO is called the Preparer.  The Contact specified on the BPO is the Requester ("On behalf of").  The Contact is able to:
    • Enter the following information for the BPO Date Fields:
      • Field Name and Description Required?
        Effective Date
        • The BPO Start Date.
        • Can be prior to the date the CR is being created.
        • Valid invoice dates must be on or after this date.
        Expiration Date
        • The date the terms of the BPO will expire.
        • For user information only to record when the BPO ends.
        Final Invoice Date
        • IMPORTANT: If expiration email notifications are specified in the EXPIRATION NOTIFICATIONS section, this is the date that is used to trigger the notification.
        • Used to communicate to the supplier the final date for sending invoices.
        • Some departments use a date that is 30 days from the Expiration Date, while others choose 60 or 90 days, depending on their department procedures and processes.
        • The system will change the BPO status to Inactive after this date.
        • The supplier can send invoices after this date if funds are still available for invoice reconciliation. However, a Contract Item Date Variance exception will be applied and will need to be resolved by extending the Final Invoice Date through a BPO change for the invoice to be reconciled and paid.


  • Indicate if the BPO is for an Exception Item. Visit the Exception Items webpage or more information.
  • Indicate whether the BPO is a Subaward. Visit the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) Subaward webpage for more information.
  • Indicate whether the usage of the contract will potentially expose any patient health information (HIPAA).

In this step of creating the BPO, you define the overall limits for the BPO, as well as specify who should be notified when those limits are reached.

  • In the MAXIMUM LIMIT section:
    • The Maximum Limit field is the total amount of money that can be spent.
      • Note: Ensure that the amount of a BPO's Maximum Limit equal the line items' overall amount.  For example, if a BPO's Maximum Limit is 1000 dollars, the line items' overall amount must also equal 1000 dollars.
    • Tolerance is the percentage by which the order can exceed the maximum amount.  Use Tolerance to factor in sales tax and freight into the cost of the BPO.
    • Use Send notification when Amount Available is at or below to the indicate whether someone needs be notified when the Amount Available is at or below a percentage. 
    • Use Send Notification to specify the number of days before the FINAL INVOICE DATE when notification reminders should start. Notifications will be sent to the Preparer, Contact and anyone specified in the NOTIFICATIONS section.
    • Use Re-notify every to specify how frequently the FINAL INVOICE DATE notifications should be re-sent.
  • In the NOTIFICATIONS section:
    • Use the Send Notifications to drop-down to specify users (other than the BPO Preparer and Contact) to receive email notifications about the BPO.
Pricing Terms
  • Create the BPO's line items, and enter the line items' information, such as: commodity code, supplier part number, unit of measure, negotiated price.
    • If there is more than one item on a BPO, each Supplier Part Number must be unique.  If your item does not have a Supplier Part Number, enter a meaningful value.
    • Ensure that the overall amount of a BPO's line items equal the contract's Maximum Limit.  For example, if a BPO's Maximum Limit is 1000 dollars, the line items' overall amount must also equal 1000 dollars.
  • Specify whether M&E Exemption will be claimed for an item. See the Equipment Inventory Office website for the process.
  • Specify which budgets to charge, as well account and PCA codes to use. Split Accounting is available in this step.
  • Skip this section.  It is not available for use.
Access Control
  • Specify another user authorized to edit the BPO.
  • If you want another user to be able to edit the BPO, give someone Edit Access via the Access Control section when creating the Contract Request.
  • The person specified as having Edit Access can edit only after the Preparer has submitted the CR for approval.  The CR cannot be in Composing status.
  • The person specified under Access Control will have Edit Access to the BPO (but cannot receive).
Payment Terms
  • Skip this section.  Campus users cannot enter payment terms.
Appendixes (Attachments)
  • Attach documents, such as quotes, to the Contract Request.
  • This section may also contain terms, conditions, and additional requirements for the BPO.
  • Choose whether an attachment needs to be visible to the supplier.
  • Note: There is a 4 MB per document limitation and an overall 10MB per CR or BPO.  You can have multiple attachments as long as you don’t go over 10MB.  Once you hit this limit the system will not send the attachment over the Ariba Network.
    • The valid file types are: txt, csv, xls, xlsx, doc, docx, dotx, potx, ppt, pptx, ppsx, sldx, xltx, pdf, ps, rtf, htm, html, xml, jpeg, jpg, bmp, gif, png, zip.
  • Review and edit the CR.  When finished, submit the request for approval, or exit and save the CR in a Composing status.
  • Answer Sole Source Justification questions, if the BPO will be over the Direct Buy Limit.
  • Answer questions specific to foreign suppliers, if the BPO will be sent to a foreign supplier.
  • View the CR's approval graph via the Approval Flow tab.
  • Enter additional internal comments.
  • Enter comments that you would like to be visible to the supplier.

Approving a BPO

  1. Log into eProcurement.
  2. Click on the Contracts tab.
  3. In the "To Do" section, click on the Contract Request Title's link or "CR" number.
  4. Review the Contract Request details and click Approve or Deny.
  5. Optionally, provide a comment and click OK.
  6. NOTE:  Regardless of whether Approve or Deny is clicked, the comments entered will be visible to the supplier.

Note:  After department approval, a Contract Request over the Direct Buy Limit will be routed to Purchasing, for a buyer's review and final approval, before the order is successfully placed with the supplier.

Reviewing a BPO's Status

Composing Submitted Processed Open Inactive Closed
The BPO has not yet been submitted for approval. The BPO has been submitted but not yet fully approved The BPO has been sent to supplier The BPO is within overall limits (funds and contract period). The BPO is beyond its contract period. The BPO lacks funds.
Has a CR ID number for internal purposes Has a CR number for internal purposes CR number is tied to a BPO number.      

Receiving a BPO

The Receiving functionality in Ariba provides campus users with a mechanism to ensure that items on BPOs are received in good condition and allow invoices to be paid. Receiving is mandatory for all BPOs.  A BPO can be received by one of the following:

  • The Preparer of the BPO (the user who creates and submits the BPO)
  • The Requester of the BPO (a different user specified by the Preparer using the Contact field)
  • The Central Receiver optionally defined for the organization

There are two ASTRA roles that support the Receiving feature:

  • The Receipt Approver is a required ASTRA role to help establish the separation of duties when the Preparer of a BPO also does the receiving.  Approval by the Receipt Approver is NOT required if either the Requester or Central Receiver receives. However, when the Preparer receives, the system will route the receipt for approval to the Receipt Approver.  Departments need to determine who will be in the Receipt Approver role for the organization and then use ASTRA to set up the role. The recommended best practice is to have at least 2 individuals in the Receipt Approver role who back each other up when one or the other is not available.
  • The Central Receiver role is an optional ASTRA role. It is a group of individuals who can receive for an organization code. (Note: The default set-up does not have Central Receiver roles established. It is up to the department to determine if Central Receiving is required and then use ASTRA to specify which individuals are in the Central Receiver role for the organization.)

NOTE: When an invoice is received and a Central Receiver role is active for an organization, the Preparer, Requester and Central Receivers receive a daily email notification to alert them which BPOs need to be received. Any one of the three can receive.  However, if the Preparer receives, the receipt will be routed to the Receipt Approver for additional approval before allowing the invoice to be paid.

For guidance and instructions on how to receive for your BPOs, including a step-by-step video, visit BPO Receiving: What Departments Need to Know.

For additional guidance and best practices on the Receiving functionality, please visit the eProcurement Receiving page.


Do you need instructions on how to invoice for a UW BPO on the Ariba Network?  Visit BPO Invoicing: What Suppliers Need to Know.

OSP Subaward Process

Create a Contract Request (CR) in Ariba, Exit and Save. Use this CR number to Submit subaward request in SAGE. See the Office of Sponsored Projects webpages for more information, including the roles and responsibilities and workflow for the subaward process. 

Changing or Closing a BPO

Do you have an eProcurement BPO that you want to change or close? Procurement Services has created a website to walk you through the process. Please visit our Changing or Closing eProcurement Blanket Purchase Orders page to learn more about how to close or change information on your BPO.

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