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Changes to invoice processing

Important information for University of London suppliers

From 1 May 2017 the University of London will implement a “No PO No PAY” policy and an e-invoicing policy.  This means that when suppliers invoice the University or subsidiaries for goods, services or works, they must quote a valid purchase order (PO) number on their invoice in order for it to be paid.  From this date the University will only accept invoices submitted electronically by email to einvoice@london.ac.uk.

All invoices received from 1 May 2017 without a valid PO number or through any other delivery method than email will not be processed.  These invoices will be returned to the supplier unpaid.

Introducing these policies will allow the University to streamline processes for the payment of invoices, enabling us to pay all suppliers as quickly as possible.

Ensuring your invoices get paid

In advance of the 1 May date we encourage suppliers to begin requesting valid POs for all orders with immediate effect.  Simply ask the University staff member placing the order with your company to provide you with the purchase order and include this on your invoice.  Send your invoice to the University at einvoice@london.ac.uk.  This will make the transition to No PO No PAY as seamless as possible.

Further information

If you have any further questions regarding the No PO No PAY policy and e-invoicing policy please see the No PO No PAY Frequently Asked Questions below or alternatively you can email Procurement@london.ac.uk.

Frequently asked questions

  1. What is a Purchase Order (PO) number and what does it look like?

A purchase order is a commercial document and the first official offer issued by a buyer to a seller, indicating quality details and agreed prices for products or services.  The seller’s acceptance of the buyer’s purchase order forms a contract between the buyer and seller.  Purchase orders all have 8 digits, beginning with either a “12” or “13”.

  1. Why is the University implementing this policy?

The No PO No Pay policy is being introduced to help improve efficiency in our procurement and payment processes.  This new policy also ensures that all procurement is compliant with internal policies.  The policy will cut through the red tape of identifying invoices without POs to ensure that payments are made to suppliers as quickly as possible.

By accepting invoices electronically, the University can fulfil our corporate social responsibility commitment to reducing carbon emissions.  This also enables quicker invoice processing so suppliers are paid sooner.  The Email address for electronic invoices is einvoice@london.ac.uk.

  1. In the past I’ve not needed to quote a PO number on my invoice, and I have still been paid. Why can this not continue?

The No PO No Pay policy is being implemented to ensure that all financial commitments made by the University are approved and recorded in the purchasing system in advance of payment being made.  This is a change to the previous system, and from 1 May, invoices without a valid PO number, other than those agreed by the University Deputy Director of Finance (Financial Services) or Procurement Director as an exemption, will not be processed or paid until a valid PO number is quoted on the invoice by the supplier.

  1. Requests for goods and services have been made in the past without a PO number being quoted. Will this still happen?

When No PO No Pay comes into effect, all financial commitments for goods and services must be made using a PO.  As part of the No PO NO PAY policy the supplier will be required to put the valid PO number on the invoice. Therefore, suppliers should not accept orders from the University of London or its subsidiaries unless a PO number is provided.

  1. What does a valid PO look like?

Purchase orders all have 8 digits.  POs from the University of London and its subsidiaries will look like 1XXXXXXX.

  1. I need to submit an invoice, but I don’t have a PO number.  Where can I get the PO number?

You will be able to obtain a valid PO number from your contact within the University, who provided you with the instruction for the goods or services.  Once they have raised the PO in the University’s system they will send it to you.  You need to enter this number on your invoice before submitting it to the University again for payment.  All invoices must be emailed to einvoice@london.ac.uk.

  1. If I need more information or have a query who can I contact?

If you require any further information regarding NO PO NO PAY please contact your normal University contract manager or the staff member who placed the order with you.  Alternatively you can contact the Procurement Team by emailing procurement@london.ac.uk.  Please ensure you quote the name of your University of London or CoSector contact or the service area that you have worked with.

  1. I have submitted a hard copy of an invoice to the University.  Will it still be paid?

No.  Hard copies of invoices will be returned to suppliers unpaid.  Scan or save your hard copy of the invoice to a PDF and send to einvoice@london.ac.uk.

We want to alert you to a fraud scam that is targeting existing and potential suppliers of equipment to the University of London, as well as other Universities and businesses, nationally and globally. Please take the necessary precautions so that you are not a victim of this scam.

The scam operates in the following way:

  1. A supplier will receive an email or phone call requesting a quotation for specific item/s of equipment. These may be in large or small quantities and of low to high values
  2. Once the quotation has been provided, a purchase order is emailed to the supplier that bears resemblance to an authentic University purchase order
  3. The purchase order typically instructs delivery to an address that may or may not be affiliated with the University
  4. After shipping the item/s of equipment, the supplier never receives payment and is unable to retrieve the shipped products 

Identifying fraudulent emails and purchase orders

The following will be evident in these fraudulent emails and purchase orders:

  1. An incorrect domain name will be used to send emails and purchase orders. Ensure you verify the order is valid with the University and only accept orders from nominated individuals as per your agreed contract. We advise all suppliers to consult with their IT or cyber security advisors to ensure they remain vigilant and informed on how to identify a suspicious communication.
  2. The delivery address may or may not be a University address. Fraudulent addresses will typically be a domestic residence or a self-storage facility, often not anywhere near the University. Or, the delivery address may be a genuine University address, which is later changed or redirected. And note that we don't deliver direct to Halls of Residence.
  3. The email will often be poorly written with grammatical, spelling or language usage errors.
  4. Use of a false or unknown contact from the University may be used. If requests for quotations or purchase orders are received from a new University contact that raises your suspicion, please contact a member of the procurement team to verify the validity of the request. Do not contact the name/number used on the email/purchase order.
  5. The e mail may use names of the University’s senior management team or Board of Trustees as contacts – note that senior managers and Board members will never be the first point of contact in a purchasing query.
  6. Phone numbers (particularly mobile numbers) not associated with the University may be used. Typically a mobile number may be a “personal number” starting with “070”. The University will never use a mobile number as a first contact number for a purchase.
  7. The order can be for a variety of products and may be for products not normally purchased by the University. This includes laboratory or scientific equipment, medical equipment or supplies or musical instruments.
  8. Various quantities may be requested but many will be for large orders.
  9. Orders may request to ship priority or overnight.

If you are ever unsure about a quotation request sent by email, or the subsequent purchase order, please contact the University of London Procurement Team or a known University contact.

Please do not attempt to call any phone numbers contained within the fraudulent emails that purport to be University numbers as they may attract a service charge.

What we are doing 

The University is reporting all instances of known fraudulent activity to the Police via Action Fraud.

University Security teams at all Senate House delivery points have been notified of this fraudulent activity and remain vigilant with all deliveries to the University, flagging up any unusual or suspicious deliveries.

We are compiling evidence for all reported incidents. If you have received any suspicious emails we would also be very grateful if you forward to procurement@london.ac.uk so these can be added to the evidence file.

We are contacting existing suppliers that may be subject to this type of fraudulent activity in order to raise awareness and provide basic guidance on how to deal with it. 

Keeping relevant University of London staff members aware of all activities and updates to this situation.