Ways to Buy

MSU departments purchase a wide variety of goods and services that are necessary to fulfill the institution’s objectives. Choosing the appropriate buying method saves time, resources, and allows Purchasing to negotiate better contracts. Retail shopping is strongly discouraged.

Strategic Contracts

Strategic Contracts improve the university's buying power—resulting in better pricing, delivery schedules, and supplier relationships. Buying from contracts is the first of three preferred purchasing methods at MSU; next is the Pcard, and then purchase orders.

Buying Against Strategic Contracts

  • Spartan Marketplace is an e-procurement solution that provides campus customers with a centralized, convenient, cost-effective way to make departmental purchases. Using a "shopping cart" experience, thousands of products are available by "punching out" to supplier catalogs. External supplier catalogs reflect the strategic contracted pricing—with no administrative markup. MSU employees can access Spartan Marketplace after logging in to EBS.

         Types of products available:
         • computer supplies and peripherals
         • maintenance, repair, and operating supplies
         • office supplies
         • scientific supplies
         Payment method: MSU account number through the Finance System

  • University Stores stocks commonly used, high-volume items. Strategic Contracts have been competitively bid or negotiated for these products. Orders can be placed using the University Stores catalog located in Spartan Marketplace or in-store at 166 Service Rd.

Types of products available:
• office products
• scientific
• health care
• lab and chemical
• custodial
• licensed apparel and MSU-branded merchandise
Payment method: MSU account number through the Finance System

  • Open Orders has negotiated Strategic Contracts and convenience contracts with local suppliers for non-stocked items. 
         Payment method: MSU account number through the Finance System, or with a Pcard


Pcard is a Bank of America credit card that allows departments to conveniently acquire supplies and services. Use of the Pcard eliminates the need for small-dollar requisitions, disbursement vouchers, and petty cash funds.    

Typical Pcard purchases include:
• conference registrations
• subscriptions
• printing services
Reconciliation of Pcard statements is managed within the Finance System

Purchase Orders

Purchase Orders are appropriate for goods and services not available through Strategic Contracts, University Stores, or by using the Pcard. Early involvement of the Purchasing staff—particularly for large or complex transactions, will ensure better results. The PO process is initiated when a requisition is created in the Finance System.
Note: Use of disbursement vouchers is not considered a buying method—it is a payment method to be used only when you cannot use contracts, POs, or your Pcard.

Lease Purchase

Lease Purchase is a program whereby financing is provided through University Services. The program requires a contract of one to five years, but may be paid off at any time by paying the balance (principal plus current month's interest). Purchasing can assist with acquiring equipment; Capital Asset Management provides the financing.