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Purchase Orders in Xero

Posted 5 years ago in Xero news by Andrew Tokeley
Posted by Andrew Tokeley

Great to be able to tick off our most requested feature on Community and move a step closer to completing the remaining core accounting functions. Next stop is quotes and we’re making good progress on better inventory control – but today we finally deliver Purchase Orders. Yay!!!

With Purchase Orders you can:

  • Create fully customisable purchase order documents
  • Email these documents to your suppliers
  • Easily generate bills by copying existing purchase orders
  • Copy purchase orders to new purchase orders and even to new sales invoices for on-charging
  • Follow an approval workflow in the same way you do for invoicing
  • Manage and search your purchase orders from their own dashboard

Of course, a (moving) picture is worth a thousand words so we’ve created a video that shows you everything in action.

This was a big release for us as we took the time to clean up a few big things under the hood. We’ve also put a lot of effort into a new touch friendly interface which will be rolled out across Xero in future releases.

Any other surprises in this release?

Yes! We’ve released a brand new GST return for NZ users with an improved workflow, performance and a new user interface. You may have caught our blog post about the changes and here’s a quick video overview.

You’ll also notice the GST reports have a new look and feel. We’re in the process of completely rewriting all reports in Xero with an improved engine and more options – great to have the first of these new reports completed. Look out for more over the next few releases.

There are a few other smaller updates – check out our release notes for more details.

What’s next?

The most likely enhancement to Purchase Orders will be to allow you to select a delivery address from one of your contact’s addresses – we’re hoping to get this out before Xmas, so keep an eye out on the blog.

Please let us know what you think in the comments below.



November 12, 2013 at 3.07 pm

So excited to see this Purchase Order feature! But it’s not working… Comes up with an error message.

November 12, 2013 at 4.18 pm

I’ve tried a couple of these but, unless I’m missing something (probably am) we can’t use this: 1. when we print/email the purchase order to a supplier, there is no product code listed: 2. if we have an order for a client with with items from multiple suppliers there doesn’t seen to be a way to merge multiple POs for multiple suppliers into one invoice for the client, it appears that you need to have one client invoice per individual purchase order. Is this correct or are there ways around that?

November 12, 2013 at 9.21 pm

Good to have, but putting running balances on ledger reports, and removing unnecessary formatting from Excel exports would have been better.

Mark Griffiths
November 13, 2013 at 1.26 am

Just want to make sure I understand this correctly. If we don’t receive all items on the PO and as such don’t tick it as being fully completed, we will still see all lines items on the PO even thou they have been previously invoiced. So we will need to have some sort of work around that keeps track of partially filled POs. Or am I missing something.

From other posts this looks like something that might be fixed when receipting is introduced?

Martin Blunt
November 13, 2013 at 5.38 am

Can you make it so that we can tailor the file name of the draft invoices to ‘Estimate XXXX.pdf’ as that would save us lots of annoying file name changing as we use drafts as our invoice system. Thanks

November 13, 2013 at 5.56 am

Hi, thanks for the new PO feature. I’m currently using it and its working well. I just have one little problem. I need my PO’s to show the item (product code). They show the description but not the item (product code). I need them to show both. Can you let me know what I need to do to sort this out? Apart from that, i’m finding this extremely useful. Are you looking at adding Sales orders to the system sometime soon?

November 13, 2013 at 10.16 am

@Andrew Tokeley and the rest 🙂
Just a little feedback from my earlier post regarding the freezing and grey buttons when trying to complete a P/O. I ended up escalating this problem to support – they have been great and worked it out. For anyone else who has the issue here is their response.

“We have discovered that this is an issue with the length of the contact name.

Contact names with 36 characters or more are causing the POs to freeze when saving.

Our Product Team is working to have this fixed soon. In the meantime, it will be necessary to shorten your contact name, and then rename it after the fix.”

Keep up the good work. Look forward the all the new features being suggested here.

November 13, 2013 at 11.01 am

While this is all fine and good, there is a major problem with the purchase order feature. From the video I don’t see any ability to assign the purchase order to a specific client and/or project or job number. I’m quite surprised that this functionality wasn’t about when developing the PO feature.

November 13, 2013 at 11.21 am

Can you raise purchase orders on Xero touch? More importantly can managers approve from Xero touch?

Also I don’t appear to be able to use this feature on Android.

Andrew Tokeley
November 13, 2013 at 12.11 pm

@Barbara – currently the quantities you enter on POs will not affect stock levels. We will address receipting and returning goods as part of extending inventory functionality.

@Ann – adding a BCC option is not something we’ve had a lot of demand for, but I’ll record the request and it will get considered for future work.

@Darren – we have had reports about POs struggling if you have a really large number of inventory items (over 5000 say), we have a partial fix for this that should be out soon – would contact if you haven’t to track progress.

@(those that have experience screen freeze on saving POs) – a small number of customers have been affected by a couple of edge-case bugs around this. We will fix these in the next day or so. Sorry for the inconvenience.


1. yes, this is a limitation at the moment. Will be added next year with inventory work, so the only option now is to add this code to the inventory item’s description.

2. if you have multiple POs, across different suppliers, then from the PO dashboard you can select them both and copy them to a single sales invoice. The contents of the POs will be merged. Is this what you’re looking for?

Andrew Tokeley
November 13, 2013 at 12.26 pm

@Mark – you’re description is spot on. We may address this with the work on inventory.

@Martin – this will cease to be a problem when we deliver proper quote functionality so would rather not touch this now.

@Sean – yep, see my comment above to Howard (1)

@Phil – thanks for the feedback. Should be fixed soon.

@Jeff – you’re right, at the moment you can’t associate a PO with a contact unless you use the reference field to store a client name. You can then search for this from the PO dashboard. Regarding job costing, Xero doesn’t really do this anywhere unless you are using tracking for this. However, even though you can assign tracking to lines of a purchase we haven’t got any reports that expose this yet.

@John – POs haven’t reached mobile (iPhone or Android) yet, I’m afraid.

Andrew Tokeley
November 13, 2013 at 12.32 pm

@Janet – the only workaround I can think of is to supply only a description and leave all the other fields blank. You may also want to create a special DOCX template to get things looking right in the PDF.

Glennise Head
November 13, 2013 at 2.20 pm

HI – Great work

How can we get Sales Orders to then turn into Delivery Notes, (with out any dollar value printed out) then turning into the Invoice.

We have currently set up Sales Order under Drafts, (to see forward sales) but when delivering items across a 3 month period from original order, have to delete the dollar value to create another Theme (Delivery This is painful, as we then have to reenter the value for the final invoice to be created

Hope you can understand and help.

November 13, 2013 at 4.01 pm

@ Xero’s Andrew … What amazes me is:

1.) you have accounting software platforms like QuickBooks, Peachtree, MYOB among others that have for a long time included all the basics why haven’t you used these platforms as reference, as in reverse engineering.

2.) Job costing is part of most business profitability reporting and accounting principle yet you don’t include job/project numbering nor the ability to assign a PO line item to a specific job or project.

What were you thinking?

Quite frankly, I can’t entertain using your software as a replacement to QuickBooks without having these basic elements.

November 15, 2013 at 1.47 am

I’d have to agree with Jeff regarding job costing functionality. Coming from MYOB to XERO I certainly miss this aspect. My business in manufacturing demands the ability to connect purchases to specific projects. Love the interface and the simplicity of reconciling etc but now i have more work to do with spreadsheets to maintain some basic job costing.

Andrew Tokeley
November 15, 2013 at 9.00 am

@Glennise – if you’re using DOCX for your templates you could hide the dollar amounts in the template you use for delivery notes, right? As long as the sales invoice is in draft you can toggle between branding themes depending on what you’re sending/printing. Would this work, or have I misunderstood?

November 15, 2013 at 9.13 am

Are we able to do PO’s in different currencies? Is this a feature that will be added?

We order stuff for over seas a bit..

Andrew Tokeley
November 15, 2013 at 12.51 pm

@Jono – yes, you can select a currency when entering a PO, just like you can do for invoicing.

November 15, 2013 at 3.27 pm

I have seen the comments above re User Access to Purchases, including Purchase Orders, and your reply, BUT would it be possible and likely that you could provide access purely to Purchase Orders? We too would like to give employees access to the Purchase Order function, without them having access to Purchases as a whole.

Still feeling the Xero love though 🙂

Andrew Tokeley in reply to Nicole
November 15, 2013 at 4.07 pm

@Nicole – thanks for the feedback, certainly something we’ll be taking on board. Afraid I can’t be more definitive about when it will get addressed.

Ian McInnes
November 16, 2013 at 5.37 am

Thanks – purchase orders are a great addition to Xero and the update is already saving us time. +1 for the delivery address update – this was the only minor annoyance that I noticed.

November 17, 2013 at 11.00 am

I agree with @Jeff about the Job Costing/Reporting functionality. Is there a timeline for when this might be put in place. It doesn’t seem like it needs much, tracking codes get us half way there. We just need the ability to set opening and closing dates on a project. The ability to archive job codes, some more detailed reports, and the ability to force project assignment at an invoice/PO transaction level. IT’d be great if you could throw us project oriented people a bone.

November 17, 2013 at 2.33 pm

Are we allowed to reblog posts from if we want to share them with our own readers?

Richard Wood
November 17, 2013 at 5.16 pm

@Ross no problem, with acknowledgement of course and link back to the original. Send me an email at if any questions. Always good to add your own value as well, for example by starting with a bit of your own commentary with the blog post or just the part you want to highlight pasted in below it.

November 19, 2013 at 5.03 pm

Hi Guys, great progress. However our company is more interested in Sale Orders and even more importantly automatic shipping/freight label printing. At this stage, being new to Xero I am yet to find an appropriate method to simplify this process.

Sylvie Eymin
November 19, 2013 at 10.02 pm

I find good hat we get this possibility now in Xero. Purchase orders then turn them in an invoice, How fine it is. Th course was also good.

Joanne Bourke
November 20, 2013 at 4.55 pm

Can’t seem to access the webinar??

Andrew Tokeley
November 20, 2013 at 5.15 pm

@Joanne – what webinar are you trying to access? We haven’t run any PO specific ones, only some “What’s New in Xero?” ones which covered all the main changes in this release. These have now finished. Can you give me more info on what you’re looking for?

November 21, 2013 at 3.28 am

@Andrew. Export to doc. WFM does. Adapt theirs. Suggestion not workable. I would literally have to edit .docx every time BEFORE, upload, then create. Manufacturing. Different terms for different suppliers, particularly offshore. Not that hard to add the export to word function if your WFM does.

Also, it is you guys who are limiting things for no reason that makes sense to many people. If WFM and every other accounting system has check boxes for access to various functions, surely you can.

THE OWNERS OR MANAGEMENT OF OUR COMPANIES SHOULD BE DECIDING who can access what parts – not being forced from Xero. It’s frustrating.

Agree also with every single person about job tracking. System integration between WFM and Xero is not good enough for this.

Xero is used for accounting and P&L, etc. WFM is used for project management. Our team uses WFM for projects, myself (owner), finance staff and accountants use Xero.

It’s like you guys just don’t listen or understand workflow of a business, and just do whatever you want for your own business.

Think outside the box and be the software you claim to be. Listen to what the users are asking for. It is obvious your system is not just being used by bookkeepers and accountants. Make it business friendly for the people that actually spend the money or your product.

Roni Lennon
November 21, 2013 at 8.06 am

Jason, Hallelujah to that.

It would appear that the people who have designed this have no knowledge of purchasing items from suppliers.

How can you purchase anything without a Supplier’s Product Code?

It is truly unbelievable.

Jane Evans
November 28, 2013 at 10.00 pm

Thanks for making new improvements all the time. Love the new purchase orders. 🙂

Matthew Minshull
December 10, 2013 at 6.55 am

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the first update to Purchase Orders – Search Contacts for a Delivery Address. This works exactly as I had hoped! 🙂

However, having now used Purchase Orders for a while, I can see there is a long way to go before this feature is… well… ‘Beautiful’. Indeed, I received two calls from my main supplier last week querying my new Purchase Order format and they advised that ‘they shouldn’t really accept this’.

I will try to list my suggestions in order of importance to ensure that Purchase Orders are fit for purpose:

ASAP option for Delivery Date.
In most cases, goods are required ASAP and without knowing the product lead-time, this is what we used to enter on our Purchase Orders. Leaving this blank results in queries from the supplier!

Invoice To address.
Our invoicing address is different to our trading address which shows top right of all documents. Sending Purchase Orders pertaining to come from the Invoicing address (i.e. editing the address top right) is not an option – nor is learning all about custom docx! The Invoice To address should also include an e-mail address.

Multiple ‘Attention:’ fields.
Thanks also for the multiple e-mail address option, which allows us to select between, say, a supplier’s Accounts e-mail address for Remittance Advices and their Sales Office e-mail address for Purchase Orders – as Wayne illustrates above However, this does not change the ‘Attention:’ field on the PO nor resulting PDF! So, I guess we need multiple Attention fields and the ability to set defaults for Purchase Orders, Remittance Advices, Bills, etc.

Copy to Invoice pricing.
When the Copy to Invoice option is selected, the pricing defaults to zero!? I would propose carrying over the unit (list) price from the Purchase Order, but changing the discount level to that set in Contacts. This would make the Copy to Invoice feature so much more powerful!

As mentioned a couple of times above, there really should be a quicker route to Purchase Orders. Accounts > Purchases > [scroll down] is becoming tedious. In addition, as Bills are now spawned from Purchase Orders, is it not logical that POs should actually be more prominent than Bills? Indeed, this would remind users to follow this route. I keep forgetting and creating new Bills from scratch!

Display Discount.
We would like to display list price, discount and net price on all Purchase Orders, but like most businesses, hide discount on invoices. We have had to create yet another ‘Branding’ theme for invoices and have to remember to select this theme whenever we raise a PO. Again, if I hear another word about custom docx themes, I think I will lose my mind.

Copy to Bill pricing.
When the Copy to Bill option is selected, the Bill confusingly populates with the list price, but shows no discount column. OK, the net price charged is shown in the right-hand column, but this gets complicated when the quantity is different to 1 off or where the supplier has charged a different amount to that on the PO. I would suggest showing only net prices for Bills.

Carry Over PO Number to Bill.
When recording a Bill, we always include our PO number next to the supplier’s invoice number all within the Reference field. It would be useful to carry over this PO number when selecting the Copy to Bill option. In addition, as you have suggested, linking back & forth between Bill and PO would also be beneficial.

Multiple Bills per PO.
If items are billed separately (because an order has been part-shipped), then this can easily be reflected when carrying out the Copy to Bill operation. However, on subsequent Copy to Bill operations, these items remain. It would be great if only the unbilled items were copied to the draft Bill, with the added benefit of avoiding duplication.

Customer Account Code.
Our supplier has advised that it would be useful to display our Account Code/Number on our Purchase Orders. Obviously, this would need to be stored under Supplier Contacts.

Rename Instructions to Notes.
Renaming the Instructions field (specifically Delivery Instructions on the PDF) to Notes or Comments would broaden its use; e.g. payment terms, special build requests or any other communication to the Sales Office rather than to the courier.

We would like the ability to automatically attach our standard Purchasing Terms & Conditions and ideally send within one combined PDF.

Approve & send Option.
We would like an ‘Approve & send’ (Approve & e-mail) option à la ‘Approve & print’ in Invoices. This could also be added to Bills and Invoices.

Subtotal position bug.
On longer Purchase Orders; e.g. 5 line items of 4 lines each, the subtotal lines at the bottom of the Purchase Order overwrite the 5th line item on the order.

Like I said, great work so far and hopefully you see this as constructive feedback.

Stuart Guy
December 11, 2013 at 7.57 am

Thanks Matthew

Excellent post, this problem is a difficult one for us to work around at the moment. Has anyone come up with a good temporary fix for now until Xero get a solution??

Multiple Bills per PO.
If items are billed separately (because an order has been part-shipped), then this can easily be reflected when carrying out the Copy to Bill operation. However, on subsequent Copy to Bill operations, these items remain. It would be great if only the unbilled items were copied to the draft Bill, with the added benefit of avoiding duplication.

Many Thanks

Stuart Guy

December 28, 2013 at 5.38 pm

Great to see purchase orders up and running, however, it would be great to be able to import SCV files from Buildsoft estimating package so that I can create purchase orders for building materials

Andrew Tokeley
January 8, 2014 at 12.43 pm

@Matthew – thanks for taking the time to provide feedback and apologies for taking so long to reply. Blame Santa.

A number of your ideas are already on our backlog, can’t commit to when they’ll happen but we agree they’d be good additions.

A couple of your points are worth commenting on though;

Main issue with moving POs above Bills would be for the (majority) of our users that don’t require POs – they would then have to do the scrolling then.

Copy to Invoice pricing
The way it should work is that if the item being copied is an inventory item then the sales price (stored against the inventory item) will be copied across. If the item is not an inventory item then the value will be copied across $ for $. If this isn’t working for you then please contact

Since we don’t know the contact at the time of copying we can’t apply a default sales discount (admittedly we could ask for a contact you before copying). In fact, even after you select a contact on the invoice we don’t automatically update existing discounts on individual invoice lines. There is a “feature” whereby if you tab across the discount fields on each line the default contact discount will be filled in.

Multiple Bills per PO
You’re right – no real workaround for this. Before copying the PO you can see in the History and Notes section whether it’s been copied to another Bill(s) and work out what’s left. We’re also going to allow you to attach Files to POs (in next release) so you could attach something with this information too. Neither are ideal, I know, we’ll look into this at some point too.

Subtotal position bug
Odd, will look into it although I can’t reproduce. It’s likely to be some weird PDF rendering issue where simply adding an additional line somewhere might fix it. Perhaps contact to see if they can work out what’s going on.

I’m grouping the comments that use the DOCX acronym here so you can stop reading if it hurts too much! I know it can be a pain to work with (and making changes to the default templates does require MS Office) but gives you a lot of flexibility.

ASAP option for Delivery Date
Good idea, it’s on our list – at the moment the only option (brace yourself) is to use DOCX. You should be able to use our default PO DOCX and modify the Delivery Date to output “ASAP” if it’s blank.

Invoice To address
Yes, you’re right, the land of DOCX is the solution to this!

Display Discount
Again, solved within a single DOCX theme where you have separate templates for POs and invoices. Even if you hate DOCX you can simply use our default templates and remove the discount column on the invoice one. At least it means you don’t have to remember to change invoice branding each time.

Rename Instructions to Notes
One word. DOCX.

Thanks again for the feedback.

Andrew Tokeley
January 8, 2014 at 12.46 pm

@Steven – while we probably won’t support a proprietary CSV import, we do want to include our own CSV import, like we do for invoices. You might then be able to do some Excel magic to convert Buildsoft files to our format. No timeframe on this at this stage.

sharad bhoyar
January 16, 2014 at 2.37 am

how to extract purchase order using api previewer ?

January 16, 2014 at 9.32 pm

Good day, when using the purchase order functionality and doing a bank reconciliation the Purchase orders are not available when trying to match the payment to the PO. What status must they be in (have tried changing them to billed).

Thank you

Yvonne Gibbs
February 18, 2014 at 4.37 pm

I’ve just started our business on Xero and in the process of transitioning across our data from 1 Jul through to 31 Dec 13. I am happy with most of the functionality so far, except for purchase orders.
This functionality is not fully integrated with “Bills”, aka purchases/accounts payable and does not allow you to monitor unfulfilled amounts.
The developers of this piece of work have assumed that there is a one-to-one relationship between PO’s and bills. They have overlooked that many businesses use PO’s as an internal control function and to mange their budgets.
For example you may have a budget against a supplier for $44K comprising of a few line items that matches your budget and a contract to supply for that amount. In our case, this supplier will invoice over a period of time with a number of invoices, not all at once.
There is no easy way to ensure at any given point in time (notes at the bottom of the page is useless), what the balance remaining on the PO, and therefore the contract, is. Unless you are diligent, it would be very easy to overspend on the PO.
I would like to see more work done in this area.

Andrew Tokeley
February 18, 2014 at 9.36 pm

@Stephen – rather than recording the payments against a purchase order you do so against the bill(s) you generate from it.

@Yvonne – fair comments. We’ve kept things pretty simple In this release – aiming for those who simply need to raise a PO to buy stuff or need only a basic workflow. Agree it’s not going to be enough for all and we’ll track demand for taking it further.

Purchase Order System
April 7, 2014 at 5.22 pm

Good way to start cloud based PO system. Great Xero!! Will this PO allows to Send quotations to multiple suppliers at the same time ???

May 21, 2014 at 1.50 pm

Is there a way to have the your customer account number with your supplier coming through on the purchase order? We currently keep the number in the bank reference, but I can’t even work out a merge code for that.

August 13, 2014 at 1.01 pm

+1 Customer Account number on purchase orders. Also – we have multiple accounts with the same supplier. Currently we append the account number to the suppliers name to get the info on the invoice. Its a bit pants.

August 14, 2014 at 10.10 am

@Gareth, @Julie. Hi, Contact Account Number is coming, at this stage a little too soon to be able to give you a release date. The new feature will allow you to store an Account Number on your Contacts, search your Contacts by that reference and optionally display on documents (invoices, POs etc).

Kent Clasen
August 26, 2014 at 9.06 am

1) Been using the POs, would be super helpful to have in iOS app (which is great by the way!).

2) If we could have a cc email address in the email PO, that would really help that
can search contacts.

3) The ability to have the email from address be a drop down to select which email address would be great. We use a separate email from address for invoices and POs.

Do good!

Lucy Bourne
September 5, 2014 at 9.57 pm

Love the PO functionality, I can’t believe that it’s taken me this long to discover it. Yet another cracking feature from Xero!

Ben Oehlbeck
December 15, 2014 at 4.59 pm

Hi, i am having a problem with approving a purchase order to my supplier. it keeps giving me an error, invalid email address. any help?

January 20, 2015 at 10.14 pm

Hi I am trying to attach a pdf file to send with a Purchase Order but it doesn’t attach and send with the purchase order. Help please? 😉

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