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Purchase orders – what we’re up to

Posted 5 years ago in Tech by Andrew Tokeley
Posted by Andrew Tokeley

We did a small update today, but since there were no big headline features, I thought I’d give an update on where we’re at with the much requested purchase order functionality. It’s been keeping a large part of our core team busy for the last few months. We haven’t often pre-announced features like this before, so keen to know whether you find this useful.

Purchase Orders is a large chunk of functionality and while developing them we also took the time to improve a number of big items behind the scenes we haven’t touched for a while. These libraries will be used in other new features we have coming up and you’ll see the benefits later in the year. From time to time we have to do these projects. However we’ve made good progress and I thought I’d give you a walkthrough of what to expect when we do release (we’re aiming for late September/October at this stage).

So what can you expect?

Enhanced dashboard and list screens

From the purchase dashboard you will be able to view a summary of all your purchase orders and create new ones. Like bills, you can click through to view individual POs and perform bulk actions like approving, printing, emailing and deleting.

Purchase orders list view

Building a purchase order

Building a purchase order is very similar to creating an invoice. You select a supplier and enter the lines of the order. You get all the same invoice features like multi-currency, access to inventory items and choosing a branding theme (see below). You also get to specify a delivery address and instructions. This address could be your organisation’s physical or postal address, a previous delivery address or even a one-off address specific to this order.


Purchase orders delivery

Branding a purchase order

Out of the box a purchase order, when printed to PDF, will inherit your default standard theme and logo. However, like invoices, you can create a specific theme just for purchase orders. If you choose to create a DOCX theme you can go to town to customise exactly how you want your purchase orders to appear to your suppliers.

Creating bills from purchase orders

You can easily create a bill from an existing purchase order. Doing so will copy the contents of the purchase order into a new bill.

You are then free to edit the details to match exactly what is being billed but, through history and notes, you’ll be able to trace back to the underlying order.

We’ve actually built a generic “Copy-to” function that allows you to copy a purchase order to not only bills but also to sales invoices (useful if you’re going to on-sell the goods to another party) and to another new purchase order.

Copy contents to a new purchase order
Purchase order statuses

A purchase order can be tracked against a number of status.

  • Draft – initial status
  • Awaiting approval – similar to how invoices work
  • Approved – similar to how invoices work, not everyone can approve purchase orders.
  • Billed – used when a purchase order has been fully billed. This can happen automatically, when you copy the purchase order to a bill or be set independently.

Designing for touch

Xero works pretty well on iPads and other touch devices, but there’s more we can do. In purchase orders you’ll see a number of changes to the designs that are a direct result of thinking more about fingers. There’s more white space in the new data entry grid, row heights have been increased on drop-down lists and we’re even introducing some responsive screen widths.

We are so committed to this that all our designs now have a large shadow hand as a reminder that the finger is the future!

New purchase order screen shot


Not in the first release

There are a few things that won’t be in the first release but are being considered (but not guaranteed!) for future releases – let us know what you think.

  • Online purchase orders – similar to how you can send your customers a link to an online invoice.

  • Linking an existing bill to an existing purchase order – if different users independently create these documents you should still be able to link them up. In the first version, we are relying on you creating the bill from the purchase order in order to make the connection.

  • Importing purchase orders via CSV file.

  • Bulk copying multiple purchase orders to a single bill.

  • Receipting – as is currently the case, and even when POs are introduced, inventory quantities are only recognised once a bill/sales invoices has been raised. We aren’t currently planning on receipting items as they arrive.

What’s next?

A lot of the investment in the new touch-friendly screens will be reused when we deliver Quotes. Ultimately, we’ll also roll these updates across the bills and sales invoices.

To compliment the work in purchase orders we also have the early designs for enhanced inventory functionality which we’ll be presenting at the upcoming XeroCon events and on this blog later in the year.

Exciting stuff and more than enough to keep us busy!

Find out more about the changes released today



August 20, 2013 at 6.25 am

You know – at the rate you guys are going – Xero is going to become a fully fledged ERP solution.. invoicing, payroll, inventory, purchasing – all we need now is asset management & maintenance… !! You guys are 3/4s of the way there 😀

Love the work!! I standby my position that Xero is by far the most user-friendly system I’ve dealt with.

Lisa Beavers
August 20, 2013 at 7.23 am

please oh please oh please do something similar with invoices and give us an ESTIMATE to use instead of just draft invoices.

August 20, 2013 at 8.44 am

I agree 100% with Kevin above, this is the same for invoices. I want it to go back to the page I was in, not the approved bills or invoices… Could Xero please explain the process logic with your method?

August 20, 2013 at 11.41 am

Will it be possible to send the PO out as attachment in the email? Also Xero not set up for a large amount of RCTI , and can’t even send out a Purchase invoice, a bit annoying.

Andrew Tokeley
August 20, 2013 at 2.09 pm

@XZ – at the moment, access to POs will be the same as for Bills

@Kevin, @Sven – I know what you mean and I’ve passed this on to the team. By separating out POs from bills it should be less of a problem in this case though, as instead of approving the draft bill to create the real bill, you’ll be copying the PO to a new bill and working from there.

@Tom – in answer to your questions.

1. no plans yet to allow you to reorder lines on a manual journal.
2. POs will have two fields, one for Order Reference, e.g. PO123 and another, called Reference, which can be used for a customer reference (or anything else you need).

@Lisa – yep, Quotes will be much loved too. No ETA yet, but definitely on the list.

@Meng – yes, you will be able to attach the PO as a PDF to an email. You’re right, we haven’t built RCTI (aka buyer created invoices) functionality yet and yes, you “could” use POs for this purpose 😉

August 20, 2013 at 6.16 pm

I am excited and relieved to see this new PO functionality and eagerly await the launch. A daily chore for our storeman is to chase up supplier orders not yet received. It is essential for us to be able to easily identify received orders and not yet received orders. Some systems I have seen enable you to send an email to the supplier requesting order status with one mouse click, no need for typing. We would like a couple of order status fields to enter an ETA and courier tracking number. This will enable us to respond to a customer quickly and professionally if they call chasing delivery. I would like to see additional tabs on the “Purchase Orders” screen after All, Draft, Awaiting Approval, Approved and Billed with “Received and Not Received”. If the ETA and tracking information was also visible from the Not Yet Received Tab this would enhance functionality.

Bronwyn Collin-Mills
August 21, 2013 at 1.01 am

Hooray, the amount of time I spend raising PO’s in a Word template then re-key the same information into Xero when the invoice arrives. Can’t wait.

Deanne Fox
August 21, 2013 at 10.37 am

Good Morning, Am excited about purchase order ability. Can you please advise if you can split a purchase order i.e Purchase order has 100 items and we recieve 50 on one and 50 at a later date. Will this then keep purchase order open to recieve remaining 50. Will there be a reporting function on open purchase order status. Many thanks Deanne

August 21, 2013 at 3.46 pm

For businesses such as mine who need an inventory system and use Unleashed to feed in to Xero- will Xero PO’s be able to be distinguished from Unleashed PO’s? I ask because currently, there is no way of distinguishing Unleashed credits from Xero credits when viewing these in Xero.

August 21, 2013 at 7.16 pm

This sounds really good.
Do you intend on having inventory management functionality similar to that of Unleashed?

Andrew Tokeley
August 22, 2013 at 11.00 am

@Andrew – at this stage you’ll be able to use the Reference field for additional information about the PO. This is on the list screens and can be searched. Regarding marking things as “received”, we’re still discussing whether this is something we’re going to support. At this stage, for POs, you can mark a PO as “billed” – either at the time of copying a PO to a bill, or independently – but not marking it as received (and not billed). We’re trying to keep things relatively simple for POs and later for Inventory – and adding a receipting step does complicate things from an accounting point of view. Not saying it won’t happen – and the work we do on inventory is more likely to force our hand either way.

@Deanne – yes. you can copy a purchase order to a bill and edit the bill to only include the items you received/were billed for. When you copy the PO again to another bill, leaving only the remaining items, you can mark it as billed then.

@Helen/@Josh – integration with Unleashed won’t be able to change until (or if) our API supports POs too. Until then POs will remain in Unleashed as they do now. Later, Unleashed could make use of our API to push through POs – should probably ask them whether they would want to do this or not. Our API team will schedule this sort of enhancement based on demand. If we did support this, we could use a similar trick to invoices that come in via the API that can include a link to the original invoice in a 3rd party system (e.g. Freshbooks) – but this is all future stuff that’s not been fully thought through yet.

August 22, 2013 at 1.55 pm

In response to your reply about the reference field, this does not seem big enough or the appropriate location to store the supplier work order number, tracking number and ETA.

Can you please confirm whether the inventory item will now have an additional field to cover the suppliers part number? We need to specify the suppliers part number on all our PO’s. I imagine we are not alone with this requirement.

August 23, 2013 at 12.33 am

I’m glad to hear that POs are imminent. Xero already stores both the Sales price and Purchase price in Inventory Items. It would be so useful to have a button in a Draft Sales Invoice to transfer the items and purchase prices to a Draft Purchase Order and it would save us so much time. All we would need to do then is select the supplier and remove the line items which weren’t being shipped from that particular supplier.

Also, when creating a PO from a Draft SI, it would be good if we could have a check box, “Ship direct to customer” to allow the supplier to be sent the customer’s address for delivery.

August 24, 2013 at 8.24 am

There’s a common question on this thread as to whether there will be the ability to run reports in reference to Purchase Orders.

I’m presuming (…particularly hoping) a user will be able to run reports on the Purchase Orders (commitments) created?

Andrew Tokeley
August 26, 2013 at 10.55 am

@Andrew – I’ll talk to the team about an additional inventory item attribute, I know we discussed it but it’s not currently in scope. Will see what we can do.

@Jason – the initial flow we’re supporting is going from a PO to sales invoices (or other document) rather than the other way round. You’re the second person to ask for this though, so we’ll be monitoring feedback on this.

@CZ – we aren’t shipping any PO reports initially, the main purchases dashboard will show you all the POs, grouped by status, and supports searching/filtering across these. We’re hoping this will be enough for most people as we’re probably going to wait until the work we are doing on our new reporting framework makes more progress before creating standalone reports.

August 28, 2013 at 4.03 pm

what date is the release? i have clients wanting to return to their previous software

September 4, 2013 at 10.20 pm

Can you provide an indication how far away the PO function is please. We have a company that currently does not use Xero, but the PO functionality would make it very attractive.

September 5, 2013 at 3.08 am

At month end, will it be possible to accrue for issued purchase orders where the bill is not yet received?

Andrew Tokeley
September 5, 2013 at 12.14 pm

@Liz, @Ken – I mention (bravely) in the blog Sept/Oct, looking like Oct now… (but as I’ve said before, it’s always hard to be 100% sure, but we’re close!)

@Jonty – at this stage, we aren’t planning on receipting purchase orders prior to billing.

Mackie Gippets
September 13, 2013 at 5.51 pm

Will the Purchase Order be available through Xero API immediately upon release?

Andrew Tokeley
September 16, 2013 at 5.02 pm

@Mackie – not immediately, no. Will depend on demand and other things on the API team’s list. It’s certainly something they’re monitoring though, so I’d suggest you head on over to and have your say.

Ange Tancock
September 26, 2013 at 6.08 am

Will the PO functionality be rolled out to the global version as per the estimated Oct 2013 timeline or will this be a limited release?

Geoff Shames
September 26, 2013 at 7.26 am

Any updates on the purchase order functionality? We are considering switching to Xero after a recommendation from a colleague, but need this functionality to be in place before we make the switch.

Andrew Tokeley
September 27, 2013 at 2.18 am

@Ange – yes, POs will be for everyone from the first release.

@Geoff – seems I was a bit optimistic about October, November is now more likely (so hard to predict when things land in this game, sorry)

Paul Kingston
October 1, 2013 at 5.11 am

I am so glad to hear that PO’s are getting very very close. This function is certainly a very important one for our business and its driving us and suppliers bonkers not having the functionality of being able to raise a PO. As someone has mentioned it is also important to be able to search a customer address for “drop shipping” when placing a PO and also being able to specify a different invoice address so that customers do not receive invoices for drop shipment. Being able to have more than just a single physical and postal address on a saved customer file or the company would be extremely helpful. I am also hoping and assuming that there will be an Automatic PO numbering system rather than having to manually enter a number each time there is a new PO?

Martin McAleer
October 2, 2013 at 8.52 pm

I strongly second everything Paul has said above. The ability to generate POs, alternate addresses and automatic PO numbers will be a massive help. Rather than having to use a separate tracking system for POs as we do now and then manually enter them into Xero with all the chance of human error that entails.

Marcus Bekker
October 4, 2013 at 4.46 pm

Hi Guys… Im gagging for this release, hugely disappointed to see above you think its now been pushed back again! This might seem a silly question, but Im assuming that if you are adding PO functionality you will also have a basic stock control, i.e under inventory items, when you receipt a PO as having been delivered it will add the qty’s to the inventory items record? I guess its a silly question, but I couldn’t find it discussed here and currently I don’t see where in Xero you can see what you actually have in stock… I know this is a part of many add ons but all that Ive looked at are just too complicated for the basic functionality I’m sure a lot of us are looking for. Keep the updates coming… Cheers…

Andrew Tokeley
October 4, 2013 at 9.57 pm

@Marcus – the addition of more stock control functionality will come later and is certainly something we’re going to add. There is actually quite a bit to consider to add even basic stock functionality and POs can be delivered independently of this. POs won’t affect stock movements – initially at least, this will still be governed by approved bills, as it is now.

Craig Fogarty
October 7, 2013 at 12.13 pm

Will there be functionality within the security area to limit users being able to only raise PO’s as opposed to raise and authorise?

Kate Boyle
October 7, 2013 at 8.47 pm

I just started a paid account hoping this feature would be available once id activated. It still isnt available in my app. Very confusing!

michael reiter
October 8, 2013 at 12.20 am

would be awesome to have a “create purchase order based on Sales order” button on the Sales order screen.

Would save a heap of rekeying etc for companies that run a drop ship method of distribution

Ken Jurgensen
October 10, 2013 at 8.46 am

A client has been using QB Enterprise, but is looking to possibly moving to the cloud because one of their offices will be moving an hour away. They use purchase orders in QB. Will monitor release of p.o.’s in Xero to see if he can wait until they’re ready and move to Xero. He does about 200 p.o.’s a week. Thanks.

October 11, 2013 at 12.59 pm

Great to hear purchase orders very close – do you have an updated ETA
Really keen to be able to get line items from sales feeding into purchase orders
In our business sales to customers drive need to purchase stock so be great not to have to go backwards. Rachel

Gillian Rossouw
October 17, 2013 at 10.03 am

Awesome news PO – update from the Xero Roadshow, Brisbane, yesterday believe is “that close” many of my clients will be jumping for joy.

Bea Shrewsbury
October 18, 2013 at 5.47 am

Please tell me how soon this is as we are about to buy an add-on. We need this as a matter of urgency!

Andrew Tokeley
October 18, 2013 at 7.09 am

That’s right Gillian – no promises, but we’re looking good for a November release!

Yvonne Evans
October 18, 2013 at 3.13 pm

Hi Xero,
Great news things are moving on the PO front, is there any chance this will be done and live this side of Christmas,.
I’ve repeatedly told my CEO it’s on its way and I would like to be able to give him some better news, i.e it is in and working.


October 21, 2013 at 10.09 am

Hi, I’m new to Xero & Loving it so far. I want to say a great effort by all involved!! Well Done.

I’m interested to know if Quoting will be released this side of the new year?

October 24, 2013 at 6.31 am

We have been using a competing product for a long time, and have been ready to switch to Xero since we first saw it. Lack of POs as a core function are the deal breaker though. It doesn’t make sense for us to switch systems only to use work arounds for such an important feature. I hope it is still a high priority.

October 26, 2013 at 2.38 am

“Receipting – as is currently the case, and even when POs are introduced, inventory quantities are only recognised once a bill/sales invoices has been raised.” Sorry i am a newbie evaluating a new system. The lack of reciepting at Good-In seems bizarre. This means the system is not ISO13485 , ISO 9001 compliant. We need to know what has arrived and obviously only send to Bill what is correct and present. We also need to send the goods to a correct warehouse location. Perhaps I have misunderstood?

Andrew Tokeley
October 29, 2013 at 11.38 am

@Walter – still haven’t made a final decision on how we are going to handle receipting yet. We will deliver POs initially without it but when we deliver Inventory we have to be able to support selling stuff that you haven’t yet been billed for but have received. Will present more details on what we have planned here closer to the time of delivering (no ETA yet, I’m afraid).

Mark prieditis
October 29, 2013 at 10.58 pm

Can’t wait for inventory lite , please hurry

Matthew Minshull
October 29, 2013 at 11.04 pm

@Andrew – Hi, any idea when Contact address selection for Ship To address will be available? Almost ALL our purchase orders are delivered direct to Customer.

I appreciate that once an address is used, it is then stored, so rather suspect that by the time this is released it will be a case of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted! 🙁

Will these previously used addresses be stored against a reference; e.g. Customer name?

October 30, 2013 at 7.52 am

Hi Andrew – just reading the thread again and noticed comments by someone else. Are you saying that the PO will not have any Stock implications at launch ie. the products on the PO will not show in the inventory list as ‘on order’? And if this is correct, please can you say how long it will be that the tie in between PO and Inventory is done. I think this is very important for us. I beleive in the Xero project as the one more SaaS focused, but Quickbooks has all this functionality now and more. I just worry the latter is too split on their focus to their desktop customers.

I really need to hear (and i am sure i speak for others on this thread) that Xero is going to beef up their inventory and supply side to their offering and fast. Can you help out a little? Thanks,

October 30, 2013 at 7.58 am

Andrew -sorry one more question.. I have also seen that Quickbooks have an integration with Magento that allows 2 way syncing. This is important particularly for payments so that the accounts team can enter a payment in Xero and it appears in Magento (since that is the master). The Carry The One integration looks very good for Xero but it does not have this 2 way feature. Can you tell me if this is a restriction from Xero on their API or if this is something that integrator apps could later add? Thanks.

Trudi Biggar
October 30, 2013 at 8.26 am

@Andrew, our accountant and myself have been trying to convince my director to move from MYOB to Xero for a long time now, I now have everything set up and was planning on a 1 November start date for switching alliances 🙂 One question though. Being able to create quotes, purchase orders, select the delivery address from customer list, invoice from purchase order, backorder to a new purchase order when the original one is not sent in full, and use multi currency, etc is very important to us. Can you please suggest some good add ons that I can use to stick to my 1 November date? We do about 250 purchase orders/sales a month.

Ronan Quirke Xero
October 30, 2013 at 10.52 am

Here are a few worth checking out:
– Unleashed Software:
– TidyStock:
All the above are good off the shelf solutions and just a sample of what is available (

Given your timelines, it might be worthwhile seeing if your accountant is an Unleashed partner or if they work with any of their implementation partners ( – getting set up correctly is the key to a tool like this, so being able to rely on an implementation partner to do so could be really helpful.

Andrew Tokeley
October 30, 2013 at 11.53 am

@Matthew – the team are committed to allowing you to search for delivery address by customer in the next update for POs after the initial release. My guess is that this will be in the first release of the new year (currently set at 27 Jan). The addresses that you enter manually (before we allow you to search by customer) aren’t stored against a contact or other reference. If, after the update, you don’t want them to appear in the delivery address list anymore you can delete them.

@Walter – we are definitely committed to building out our Inventory capability but we wanted to release POs first – plenty of people want this even if they don’t need inventory control. POs won’t appear in the inventory list reports as “on order” – this sort of work is being done as part of the inventory project. Sorry, I can’t give you a firm date yet – too early to tell with any accuracy – but it won’t be this year.

The API supports 2 way integration (you can raise invoices, manage inventory items for example), but our experience is that most inventory add-ons prefer to handle all the ordering/invoicing/inventory management aspects within their own product and simply post the financial data to Xero. Things quickly get complicated trying to keep the two in sync.

October 30, 2013 at 11.40 pm

Andrew Tokeley
18 October 2013 #
That’s right Gillian – no promises, but we’re looking good for a November release!

So you have slipped? I held off buying the add-on in October …. Please be realistic on your dates (I know from bitter experience!).

SUGGESTION: As a stopgap can you not just add the ability to print a draft purchase invoice as a purchase order (I print draft sales orders as a PROFORMA invoice? That would help me! Anyone agree?

October 31, 2013 at 8.41 am

@Andrew – thanks. So what if you have Xero, Unleashed and then Magento. Which system is the master? Will payments in Xero reflect elsewhere? I prefer to have staff use Magento for SOP as it works and has superb granular access permissions, and we have experience taking orders on it. We dont see any reason to restrict access to online customers. We want to allow internal staff to orders. This will be pushed int Xero. We dont need any pick/pack functionality from Unleashed as we have written our own brilliant pick/pack/despatch App which integrates with magento API and has touch screen, scales and barcode reader to ensure items are packed properly with Xero mistakes. So really the only reason to buy Unleashed would be to issue a PO and manage stock – no sales orders, no despatch. Seems like a huge waste of time and money to get Unleashed when Magento is nearly there.

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