Brought to you by

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



Andrew Tokeley
October 31, 2013 at 11.02 am

@Bea – steady on, it’s still October! Yes, we are still looking good for November. We have a scheduled release on November 11 which is tagged to include the first release of POs. It’s extremely difficult to predict when things land in this game (which is why most software companies don’t even try – I’m bucking the trend here. Rebel) but not long to wait now.

@Walter – this really depends on the other systems. Xero, in general, does not push data out to other systems, instead, these systems pull information from Xero. Our PO and Inventory solutions may be enough for you, without requiring Unleashed, but without knowing your business or workflows it’s hard to say for sure.

Rex Fredericks
November 1, 2013 at 4.16 pm

Currently operating with QB online , Xero seems to be doing much better things and often that’s not too difficult.
What is holding us back from converting to Xero is the “apparent” lack of ability to create an estimate or proposal and then convert it to an invoice within Xero. Am I correct in this appraisal?

Andrew Tokeley
November 4, 2013 at 9.28 am

@Rex – at present, the only way to do this is to create a draft sales invoice (you can make this appear like a quote through invoice branding) and approve (or copy) it once you’ve secured the work. However, the good news is we have committed to building a proper Quote function as soon as possible. Always hard to say when it will land but am hopeful it will be in the first half of next year.

Anja Jones
November 6, 2013 at 6.02 am

We are sooo happy that purchase orders will be implemented soon. We have been making do with draft bills for the last 2 years, but they don’t look particularly pretty, and you can’t email them straight from Xero, so this will save us a LOT of time when creating bulk POs at the end of the month – well done guys, love your work 🙂

purchase order system
November 6, 2013 at 8.50 pm

simplified the way that Purchase Orders (POs) are raised, sent for approval & later sent to suppliers. I think xero provides easily po system.

November 6, 2013 at 11.39 pm


Can you tell me when Purchase Orders will be available on Xero to use please? Many thanks

November 7, 2013 at 11.47 pm

@Andrew, so can you confirm that the PO function will added on the 11th of November?

Andrew Tokeley
November 8, 2013 at 12.13 pm

@John – yes!

Christine Hills
November 8, 2013 at 10.33 pm

I came on line to see if there was a purchase order that can be added to xero as we have an urgent requirement for this, and was pleased to see that a new section of the system is due in 3 days! – wow, how exciting.
I only have a manual system running at present, this will ease my workload.

Please keep me in the loop

November 9, 2013 at 10.19 pm

That is fantastic news. Will we have the option to ship to a different address that is stored in the contact cards for the customer.?

Andrew Tokeley
November 11, 2013 at 9.43 am

In case you all missed today’s blog and release – – we’ve got the first release of purchase orders over the line!

Thanks for your patience everyone.

Roni Lennon
November 11, 2013 at 10.48 pm


Most suppliers need to have THEIR part number on a purchase order. When will Inventory be changed to allow for this?

November 14, 2013 at 10.17 pm

I haven’t had a chance to use them yet myself, however, a client has asked me specifically to tell you he is very happy with the new feature!

His only negative feedback was that he had to manually populate the ‘Delivery address’ field, he would like to be able to select an existing contact. Other than that, good job!

Andrew Tokeley
November 15, 2013 at 4.20 pm

@Zoe – you can tell your client that we’ll be allowing them to select a client address very soon 🙂

Office Domain
February 22, 2014 at 7.04 pm

Is there a way to convert a sales order/invoice to Purchase order?
If not is this a feature you plan to provide in the future?
Thanks for your help in advance.

Andrew Tokeley
February 24, 2014 at 10.21 am

@Office Domain – no this isn’t currently possible, I’m afraid, we only support copying a PO to a Bill or another PO. We may generalise being able to copy anything to anything at a later date – no timeframe on this yet though.

Peter Harding
March 20, 2014 at 9.38 am


The major problem I have with the PO system is an inability to print/export a list of POs to allow further offline analysis. Similarly there are other Xero screens (eg list of all unpaid sales invoices) where highly useful information is produced but cannot be printed or downloaded. Will the new reporting which has been mentioned pick this sort of thing up ?



Purchase Order System
April 7, 2014 at 5.39 pm

Hi xero, Did you made auto approval system?

Star Invoice
April 7, 2015 at 9.47 pm

I use Pro Forma Invoice at as my online invoicing solution. It is very easy to use and I can manage unlimited companies, unlimited clients, products, invoices and much more. I can even email the invoice directly to my client and give the invoice any heading I wish. If you are looking for an online tool which is easy and mobile, then you have to check out Star Invoice.

April 24, 2016 at 2.26 am

Purchase Order that is ‘Mark as Billed’ and then ‘Copy purchase order to a draft bill’ box is ticked and then the bill is approved – it MUST be possible to merge this bill with an invoice generated via syncing with Receipt Bank.

At this point I end up with two bills which are for the same thing: a bill that was created as a final step of a Purchase Order copied to a draft bill which then got approved and a bill that came through via syncing with Receipt Bank

Can you please fix it?

James Greensill
July 11, 2017 at 3.56 pm

Hi Andrew, I realise this is quite old now but do you know if the import/export Purchase orders to a CSV file is available, or can you indicate when? My organisation automates the purchase requirements through CSV and I would like this to be imported into Xero.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *