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Requisition Vs. Purchase: What’s the Difference?

Navigating the intricate landscape of procurement can often feel like deciphering a complex puzzle, especially when faced with terms like requisition, purchase, and purchase order. In the dynamic realm of business operations, understanding the nuances between these key elements is paramount for effective decision-making and streamlined processes. This blog post aims to unravel the mystery surrounding "Requisition vs. Purchase" and shed light on the distinctive roles each plays within the procurement process. We'll delve into the requisitioning process, explore the intricacies of making a purchase, and highlight the pivotal role of purchase orders in maintaining order and accountability.


Key Takeaways

  • Requisitions are formal requests or documents signaling the need for goods, services, or internal resources within an organization. They serve as the initial point of contact between resource needs and subsequent procurement activities.

  • Purchases refer to the actual acquisition of goods, services, or assets in response to a requisition or recognized business need. They represent the desired end result of the entire requisition process.

  • The two differ in several key ways, including when and how they impact the company. 


Definition of Requisition

At the heart of every organized procurement process lies the concept of a requisition. In essence, a requisition is a formal request or document that signals the need for goods, services, or even internal resources within an organization. This pivotal step initiates the procurement journey, serving as the first point of contact between the need for resources and the subsequent procurement activities.

Importance of Requisitions in Business Operations

Requisitions serve as the cornerstone of effective and transparent business operations. They establish a structured framework for managing resource needs, enabling organizations to maintain control over their expenditures while ensuring the timely fulfillment of essential requirements. By centralizing and formalizing the request process, requisitions bring clarity to the procurement journey, minimizing the risk of misunderstandings or oversights.

Definition of Purchase

A purchase, in the realm of procurement, refers to the actual acquisition of goods, services, or assets in response to a requisition or a recognized business need. You might say it’s the desired end result of the entire requisition process.

Importance of Purchases in the Procurement Cycle

The successful execution of purchases is paramount for maintaining the fluidity and efficiency of business operations. Timely and strategic purchases contribute to the seamless flow of resources within an organization, preventing disruptions and bottlenecks that can impede productivity.

The Requisition Process

The requisition workflow is a structured and pivotal process within the broader spectrum of procurement, serving as the initial spark that ignites the acquisition of resources within an organization. This well-defined sequence of steps ensures transparency, accountability, and efficiency in meeting operational needs. Broadly speaking, the requisition process can be broken down into the following general elements.

Initiating a Requisition

The requisition process kicks off with the identification of operational needs within an organization. Various triggers, such as depleted supplies, upcoming projects, or departmental requirements, prompt authorized individuals to initiate a requisition. Typically spearheaded by department heads, managers, or individuals with the authority to make procurement requests, this crucial step involves articulating the specifics of the required items or services. It's the moment when the organization formally acknowledges the necessity for additional resources to sustain or enhance its operations, whether that’s more office space or add-ons to the company’s tech stack.

During the initiation phase, detailed information is provided in the requisition, including item specifications, quantities, and any other relevant details essential for accurate fulfillment. This step sets the foundation for the procurement journey, acting as a comprehensive guide for subsequent stages in the requisition process.

The Approval Process

Once a requisition is initiated, it undergoes a thorough evaluation by stakeholders vested with the authority to approve or deny the request. This stage serves as a robust checkpoint to ensure alignment with budgetary constraints, compliance with organizational policies, and adherence to strategic objectives.

Stakeholders involved in the approval process may include department heads, budget managers, or individuals responsible for overseeing the financial health of the organization.

Role of Stakeholders in the Requisition Process

Stakeholders play pivotal roles throughout the requisition process, each contributing their expertise and perspective to ensure a well-rounded decision-making process. Here's a breakdown of their roles:

Initiators (Department Heads/Managers):

  • Identify and articulate the need for resources.

  • Provide comprehensive details in the requisition to guide the procurement team.

Approvers (Department Heads/Budget Managers):

  • Scrutinize requisitions for alignment with budgetary constraints.

  • Ensure compliance with organizational policies and strategic objectives.

  • Approve or deny requisitions based on a thorough evaluation.

Procurement Team:

  • Collaborate with initiators to gather additional details if required.

  • Communicate effectively with stakeholders to facilitate a smooth requisition process.

  • Play a key role in supplier identification, negotiation, and fulfillment.

Finance Department:

  • Verify budget availability for approved requisitions.

  • Ensure financial compliance and accuracy in requisition documentation.

  • Contribute to strategic financial planning based on requisition data.

Record Keepers:

  • Maintain comprehensive records of all requisitions.

  • Facilitate transparency, historical reference, and compliance audits.

Purpose of Requisitions: Strategic Foundations for Organizational Excellence

Requisitions serve as indispensable instruments within the procurement landscape, playing a vital role in enhancing operational efficiency, financial discipline, and strategic planning. Let's delve into the pivotal purposes of requisitions, particularly in terms of planning and budgeting, controlling spending, and streamlining procurement processes.

1. Planning and Budgeting

Purpose: Requisitions serve as the initial building blocks for effective planning and budgeting within an organization. By formalizing the identification of operational needs, requisitions provide key stakeholders, including department heads and finance teams, with a tangible understanding of upcoming resource requirements. This proactive insight enables organizations to anticipate and plan for future expenditures, ensuring that budget allocations align with the evolving needs of various departments.


  • Strategic Resource Allocation: Requisitions facilitate the alignment of budgetary allocations with strategic priorities, allowing organizations to allocate resources where they are most needed for growth and efficiency.

  • Forecasting: The requisition process allows for the forecasting of resource demands, enabling informed decision-making in budget planning and preventing last-minute budgetary surprises.

2. Controlling Spending: Safeguarding Fiscal Responsibility

Purpose: Controlling spending is a critical aspect of financial management, and requisitions play a pivotal role in ensuring that expenditures are aligned with approved budgets and organizational priorities. Through a stringent approval process, requisitions act as gatekeepers, preventing unnecessary or unauthorized spending and contributing to overall fiscal responsibility.


  • Budget Adherence: Requisitions enable organizations to adhere to budgetary constraints by subjecting proposed expenditures to thorough scrutiny during the approval process.

  • Cost Accountability: The requisition workflow establishes a clear line of accountability for spending, helping organizations track and manage costs effectively.

3. Streamlining Procurement: Enhancing Operational Efficiency

Purpose: Requisitions are instrumental in streamlining the procurement cycle, transforming an operational need into a structured, transparent, and accountable process. By initiating the procurement journey with a requisition, organizations lay the groundwork for a seamless transition from identification to acquisition of resources.


  • Efficient Communication: Requisitions facilitate clear and structured communication between departments and the procurement team, ensuring that all necessary details are provided for accurate fulfillment.

  • Supplier Relationship Management: A well-structured requisition process enables procurement teams to engage in effective negotiations, identify suitable suppliers, and build strong relationships that contribute to efficient procurement cycles.

requisiton vs purchase completed

Overview of the Purchase Workflow

The purchase workflow is a structured sequence of steps that transforms identified organizational needs into tangible acquisitions, ensuring efficiency, transparency, and accountability throughout the procurement process. Let's explore the key stages of the purchase workflow, encompassing the identification of needs, vendor selection, and the creation and approval of purchase orders.

Identifying Needs

Initiation: The purchase workflow commences with the identification of organizational needs. This can be triggered by various factors such as project requirements, depleted inventory, or the need for specific services. Stakeholders, including department heads and project managers, play a crucial role in articulating these needs, providing detailed specifications, quantities, and any other pertinent information.

Purpose: Identifying needs sets the foundation for the procurement journey, ensuring that the subsequent steps are grounded in a clear understanding of what resources are required to meet organizational objectives.

Vendor Selection

Execution: Once needs are identified, the procurement team undertakes the task of selecting suitable vendors or suppliers. This involves market research, evaluating potential partners, and considering factors such as cost, quality, reliability, and past performance. The goal is to establish partnerships that align with organizational goals and can provide the required goods or services efficiently.

Purpose: Vendor selection is a critical phase that directly impacts the success of the procurement process. Strategic decisions during this stage contribute to cost savings, quality assurance, and the establishment of robust supplier relationships.

Purchase Order Creation and Approval

Finalization: With a vendor selected, the next step involves the creation of a purchase order (PO). The purchase order is a formal document outlining the details of the transaction, including item specifications, quantities, agreed-upon prices, delivery terms, and any other relevant information. The PO serves as a legally binding contract between the buyer and the supplier.

Approval: Before the purchase order is communicated to the vendor, it undergoes an approval process. This typically involves stakeholders such as department heads, budget managers, or procurement officers. Approval ensures that the purchase aligns with budgetary constraints, organizational policies, and the overall strategic objectives.

Purpose: The creation and approval of purchase orders are pivotal for maintaining transparency, accountability, and legal compliance in procurement transactions. It provides a structured framework for both the buyer and the supplier, minimizing the risk of misunderstandings and disputes.

Key Differences Between Requisition and Purchasing

There are a few key differences between requisition and purchasing, mostly having to do with when and how they impact an organization.


  • Requisitions: Occur during the planning stage of the procurement cycle. They represent the formal recognition and articulation of organizational needs before the actual procurement process begins.

  • Purchases: Take place during the execution stage of the procurement cycle. Once a requisition is approved, the procurement team initiates the process of identifying vendors, negotiating terms, and acquiring the necessary resources.


  • Requisitions: Require internal approval. Department heads, managers, or designated individuals within the organization review and approve requisitions to ensure alignment with budgetary constraints, compliance with policies, and adherence to strategic objectives.

  • Purchases: Involve approval from both internal and external stakeholders. In addition to internal approvals, purchases often require validation from external entities, such as suppliers or vendors, through the creation and approval of purchase orders.


  • Requisitions: Generate purchase requests, providing a detailed overview of the required items or services, including specifications, quantities, and any other pertinent information. These documents serve as the basis for initiating the procurement journey.

  • Purchases: Involve the creation of purchase orders (POs), which serve as legally binding contracts between the buyer and the supplier. Purchase orders include specifics such as item details, agreed-upon prices, delivery terms, and other relevant information necessary for the transaction.


  • Requisitions: Play a crucial role in budget planning. By formalizing identified needs, requisitions provide insights into future resource requirements, allowing organizations to allocate budgets strategically based on anticipated demands.

  • Purchases: Impact actual spending. Once a requisition is approved and the procurement process is initiated, purchases translate budget allocations into tangible expenditures. Effective budget management during the purchasing stage is essential for financial sustainability.

Streamline Your Requisition Process Today with Opstream

Remove friction in your requisition process and eliminate duplicative spending with Opstream’s AI-powered platform. It’s only with Opstream that you’ll get:

  • Streamlined processes: With Opstream's plug-and-play orchestration layer, eliminate the need for additional tools. Create a comprehensive end-to-end solution within a single platform that seamlessly integrates with the best-in-class tools in the procurement ecosystem.

  • intelligent vendor management: Efficiently handle all vendor interactions. Utilize our platform to collect vendor information, administer questionnaires such as infosec assessments, and facilitate vendor onboarding procedures. Enable vendors to easily upload files and communicate with you effortlessly.

  • Self-service procurement: Launch within days, not months, with minimal training required. You get complete configurability without the need for coding.

Sound good? Schedule a call with us today and let’s take your requisition process to the next level.


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