Purchasing, AP & HCOM FAQs

1.       Placing orders:

  • How do I change my address in iProcurement

Please go into your iProcurement Preferences and check the ‘Deliver-To’ building code. When you click on the magnifying glass next to the box, it will show you the street address. If it is not consistent with your desired delivery location, contact procurementhelp@seas.harvard.edu for the appropriate code.

Also, next time you are placing an order, please enter your delivery address (including the lab number) in the appropriate boxes in the checkout screen and select ‘Set Attn Lines as default’ – it will populate those fields for future orders.

Make sure your name appears in the ‘Attn of Name/Department’ field – the ‘Requester’ line will not get printed on your delivery label.

  • How do I check if a requisition has been paid?

- HCOM generated requisitions - click here.

- Web reimbursements - click here.

  • How do I set my HCOM preferences and save favorite account strings?

To set your preferences follow the instructions here. 

In the same screen you can save and edit your favorite costing strings.

  • How do I change my default approver in HCOM?

HCOM hierarchy is based on the users' HUID numbers. One person can only roll up to one approver. If you use multiple costing strings, your default approver should be the person who approves the majority of your requisitions. In order to have your approver changed please email Procurement Help.

  • Catalog search - Which vendors’ items show up?

The Catalog Search functionality on the main page of the HCOMarketplace can only be used to search across catalog vendors. It will not search for items from punchout vendors.

There are 3 exceptions: VWR has a LivePrice catalog that is integrated with their punchout that allows them to display items in both their punchout and the catalog search. Bio-Rad and Qiagen have Level 2 punchout functionality, which displays their items in a catalog search, but without a price. For these two vendors, the catalog search item will provide a link that will go to the corresponding item in the vendor’s punchout.

  • What is the shipping cost for HCOM purchases? Do I need to add shipping cost to the order?

Harvard uses the ‘Prepay and Add’ shipping terms. The Seller prepays the transportation charges, but adds the charges to the invoice for reimbursement from Harvard. You do not need to add the shipping cost to the requisition.

If, however, you are shipping a large piece of equipment, you should consider hiring a freight company to handle it. Please contact Financial Operations office for help.

There is no vendor master list for shipping charges, because keeping it up to date would be nearly impossible. Vendors have complicated shipping pricing structures; for some shipping varies by commodity or service, distributors passing through third party shipping costs, etc. You should first look at the free shipping icon vendors in the Marketplace. Keep in mind that some vendors have minimum order amount before they will ship.

More information is available here.

  •  How do I use the ‘Notes to Supplier’ feature? Do all vendors receive the notes?

When you create a requisition, it's possible to add a "Note to Supplier" to transmit to the vendor(s) once it becomes an approved order. Keep in mind that if you have more than one vendor on one requisition, all vendors will receive your note.

Current list of vendors who do not receive ‘Notes to supplier’ due to system limitations is available here.

  • How do I process a PO for a vendor that requires payment up front?

You have two options for a non-catalog PO:

  1. You may create multiple lines.  One of the lines can be the deposit. 
  2. If you choose to create your PO as a single line, make sure you choose your PO by dollar amount and not by quantity.

 Note that all payment terms are net 30 and if the up-front payment needs to be issued before net 30 then a non-standard check request will need to be completed.

  •  Vendor says they did not get my order - What should I do?

- PO generated using the HCOMarketplace:

Use the ‘Document Search’ function in the HCOMarketplace to confirm that your order was transmitted to the vendor. In Document Search, search by your PO number. When your PO number shows up in the search results, click on the number. This will display the HCOMarketplace status of your PO. The box on the right side is labeled ‘Document Status,’ where you will find the distribution method (e.g. fax number, email address, or cXML) and the distribution date/time. This is good information for when you talk to the vendor.

It is important to note, when giving an order to a vendor manually in this situation, be sure to notify the vendor that Harvard will not be responsible if the vendor double ships an order.

 - PO generated via the Non-Catalog order feature: Follow up with your Financial Operations contact.

  • What information do I need to set up a new vendor?

You will need the vendor's W9, as well as the 'Remit-to' (where the check will be sent) and 'Bill-to' address (where the tax document will be sent). After you submit the vendor request, please notify your Financial Operations approver via email, attaching the W9 and the request ID number.

  • My order shipped from overseas and is held up in customs - whom do I contact?

Harvard University has engaged a customs broker for all matters related to international shipping of goods. The Broker can act on behalf of the University to expedite deliveries both into and out of the United States.
If you intend to purchase goods abroad which require entry at our ports, it is strongly advised that you contact our customs broker prior to your purchase in order to facilitate the transaction. The contact information is available here.

 2.       Process/ System related

  • How do I get access to HCOM?

Fill out the iProcurement Authorization Form.  Make sure it is signed by your PI or manager, and send it to the Financial Operations Team (via email or interoffice).

  • What documentation is needed for different types of Financial Operations transactions?

Please see the quick overview of SEAS' processes and required documentation here.

  • Can I create a requisition with another tub's (Harvard unit's) costing string?

Yes, you can. Keep in mind, however, that you will need to modify your default approval hierarchy and 'Change First Approver' (not 'Add an approver'!) to add a person from within the other school's approval hierarchy. Otherwise the system will populate high-level approvers from both units, regardless of the dollar amount.

  • Can I create a cross-tub requisition (with costing strings of 2 Harvard schools)?

We do not recommend doing this, because a requisition containing 2 or more different tub numbers will automatically be routed to the Financial Deans of both schools as well as the Strategic Procurement Director. If you need to split a purchase with another unit, the best way to do it is to journal a portion of the cost after the fact. If, however, you are processing a high dollar (>$100K) cross-tub purchase, please contact the Manager of Financial Operations for guidance.

  • When do invoices appear as scanned in HCOM?

Invoices processed via payment request are entered in the system first.   Once entered, they are sent out for scanning (every day except Fridays). It takes 2-3 days for the image to return and be uploaded for retrieval.

  • Can a user put multiple invoices (as separate lines) on one payment request?

Yes - As long as you write the correct PR# on the invoice it makes no difference to Central AP.  If the invoices are for the same vendor, the user should enter each invoice separately.

If you are entering invoices for different vendors then multiple PR#'s will be generated. DO NOT SEND THE ORACLE PR COVER SHEET.  Only the invoice/s with PR# is needed. Please limit the number of invoices to 15 per payment request.

  • When are my payments posted to the GL?

Invoices are issued a GL date at the time that they are matched in the system. If there are no holds on the transaction, it will pass to the GL that night.  That is also the case if an invoice goes on hold, and is released within the same month. 

If an invoice on hold crosses months, for instance, it was entered on April 25 (it would be issued a GL date of April 25,) and goes on receiving hold, and is still on hold when we close the month of April, part of the closing process is to sweep the transaction into the next period.  The system then automatically changes the GL date to May 1.  If that invoice gets received in May, and is released from hold, it will pass to the GL with that May 1 date.  Furthermore, if that invoice was still on hold at the end of May, the GL date would sweep forward to June 1, and would do that every month end until the hold is resolved.


3.       Reporting

  • What reports are available in HCOM?

HCOM Reports are typically used to review detail on purchases at both the Shopper and Departmental level. The HCOM Reports provide a materialized day-old view of the data which is then exportable to Excel.

Note: Most of the HCOM Reports respect the Approval Hierarchy. If you run these reports you will only see data for preparers in the same position as you or in a position below you.

  • Purchase Summary Report provides a summarized view of purchase order activity across the PO categories; Marketplace, Non-Catalog and Payment Requests. Users of this report may want to research the purchases a specific Shopper has made or what purchases were made with a specific supplier.
  • Purchase Order Line and Distribution Details Report lists both summary and line level purchase order information. This report is most beneficial as it allows users to search on one or more chart segments. Users of this report may want to research what purchases have been charged to grant X or a specific chart segment. The most common fields are the Chart Segments, Requestor and Supplier
  • Receiving Details Report lists line level receipt information at the line and distribution level. Users of this report may want to research what has been billed, but not received within his/her department. The most common fields are the Chart Segments, Requestor and Supplier.
  • Transaction Summary Report displays PO details, Invoice details and Payment details all in one report. Users can use this report to tell them exactly what has been invoiced and paid to date. The report is particularly useful for Standing Orders. Please note that this report does not respect HCOM hierarchy.

Please go to the Harvard training portal for a Quick reference guide.

  • Are there any other Procurement/ AP reports outside of HCOM?

The following OBI reports are helpful when analyzing your spend:

  1. Detail Listing report,
  2. Committed Funds report,
  3. HU Vendor Detail report
  • Which description (Requisition Description/Business Purpose) do we see in our reporting?

Item Description (Marketplace fills in automatically/Non catalog you fill in - required)

Business Purpose (required) –only seen in Payment Requests - Acts as the line item description

  • What information do vendors see on the check stub?
  • Invoice date
  • Invoice number
  • Payment amount
  • PO/PR Number
  • Description field = 'Requisition Description' that is entered (when you begin your 'Checkout') - only the first 35 characters will be used on a payment remittance due to space limitations.