Supplier vs Contact – Here’s How It Works

Some time ago we released our ‘Supplier Creation’ feature, which allows users to create a new supplier from directly within the ApprovalMax platform. The new supplier is then processed in Xero, and added to the Xero suppliers list.

Existing users will now see this feature during setup, with Admins offered several options as to what Purchase Order requesters will be able to select from in terms of suppliers. These options are:

  • Any contact
  • Any supplier
  • Specific contacts

Let’s take a look at how this works in more detail.

Understanding the Relationship with Xero

ApprovalMax is tightly integrated with Xero, and follows its functional logic – meaning the steps and terminology used by Xero are mirrored in ApprovalMax.

So, the first thing we must clarify is what the terms ‘Contact’, ‘Supplier’, and ‘Customer’ mean in the context of Xero.

Any organisation that is entered for the first time in Xero is rendered as an unassigned Contact. Once a Bill is received that is addressed to that Contact, the Contact automatically becomes a Supplier, and remains as a Supplier within Xero’s Suppliers list. This is the list that ApprovalMax pulls from each time a PO is raised and a Supplier needs to be selected for the PO.

On the other hand, when a Sales Invoice is received that is addressed to an unassigned Contact, the Contact automatically becomes a Customer.

This means that there’s no way to make an organisation a Supplier without first triggering this via receiving a Bill addressed to them.

How it Works in ApprovalMax

When raising a Purchase Order in ApprovalMax, the Requester can be offered one of the following options from which to select (remember, these options are configured by the Admin during setup):

  1. Any Contact – This is a list of all Contacts pulled from Xero.Note: Normally, access to the Contacts List needs to be limited for Requesters since the full list of Contacts potentially contains Customers as well.
  2. Any Supplier – This is a list of all Contacts that have been initiated as Suppliers after receiving Bills addressed to them. Allowing Requesters to select Suppliers from this list ensures the Requesters are looking at Suppliers only.However, this list will not contain the newly created Contacts that have not yet been initiated as Suppliers.
  3. Specific Contacts – This option enables granular configuration as to which Suppliers or Contacts will be visible to which Requesters.

Enjoy Workflows That Work with ApprovalMax

This new feature has been designed to make the raising of Purchase Orders easier and more efficient.

Now that you have the option to create and select Suppliers from directly within ApprovalMax, delays and bottlenecks will be a thing of the past.

If you have any further questions about Supplier Creation, contact

And if you’d like to find out more about ApprovalMax and its capabilities, click here, or if you’d like to try it out, sign up for your no-risk 30 day free trial here.

Do you have further questions? Email us at or register for our next webinar: for UK & US and for AU & NZ.

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ApprovalMax Team