Purchase order vs invoice

Purchase Order Vs Invoice: Which One Should You Use?

​​In the world of business, two documents help ensure smooth transactions: purchase order vs invoice. Purchase orders are like shopping lists, specifying what you want to buy, while invoices are bills for what you’ve already received. This blog post will help you understand when and how to use each effectively. We’ll discuss the differences of each and why they matter in your business operations. Whether you’re a freelancer or part of a larger company, knowing the distinction between these documents is essential. So, let’s dive in.

Table of contents:

  1. What is a Purchase Order?
  2. Why Do We Use Purchase Orders?
  3. When to Use a Purchase Order
  4. Key Components of a Purchase Order
  5. What is an Invoice?
  6. Why do we use invoices?
  7. When do we use Invoices
  8. Key Components of an Invoice
  9. Bonus: The Convenience of CheckYa in Creating Invoices:
  10. Purchase Order Vs Invoice: Key Difference
  11. Conclusion

Invoice via CheckYa

What is a Purchase Order?

A purchase order, often called a PO, is an agreement between a freelancer and client. It’s a written document that specifies what work the freelancer will do, how much they’ll get paid, and when they’ll get paid. Think of it as a clear and formal arrangement for freelance projects.

Why Do We Use Purchase Orders?

Here are some key reasons to use purchase orders:

  • Clarity and Agreement: Having a aurchase order in place ensures  both the freelancer and the client are on the same page. They outline the project details, tasks, deadlines, and compensation; reducing misunderstandings.
  • Record-Keeping: Purchase orders are handy for record keeping. They help freelancers keep track of their projects, payments, and client communications. This organization is essential for keeping track of your finances and taxes.
  • Payment Assurance: By creating a purchase order, freelancers secure a promise of payment from their client. It helps ensures that the freelancer will be compensated fairly for their work.
  • Legal Protection: POs serve as legal documents in case of disputes or disagreements. If the client changes their requirements or doesn’t pay as agreed, the purchase order can be used to resolve issues.
  • Professionalism: Using purchase orders adds professionalism to a freelancer’s business. It shows clients that you’re serious and organized, which can lead to more opportunities and trust.
  • Project Management: Purchase orders help freelancers manage their workload effectively. They provide a structured plan for completing projects, which is especially useful when juggling multiple clients.

In summary, a purchase order for freelancers is like a project contract. It ensures clarity, aids in record-keeping, guarantees payment, offers legal protection, demonstrates professionalism, and helps ensure that projects run smoothly.

Here’s an example use case of how a freelance designer can use a purchase order and an invoice.

A freelance designer Sarah uses a purchase order to formalize a project agreement with her client, TechX Solutions. Here’s how it works:

  • Agreement Setup: Sarah creates a purchase order, outlining project details, pricing ($700), and payment terms (50% upfront, 50% on completion).
  • Client Approval: TechX Solutions reviews and signs the purchase order, confirming their commitment.
  • Work Begins: Sarah starts the design project.
  • Project Completion: She finishes the project and sends an invoice ($350) to TechX Solutions.
  • Payment: TechX Solutions pays the invoice..
  • Project Closure: Sarah delivers the project files.
  • Documentation: Both parties keep copies of the purchase order and invoice for records.

This streamlined process ensures clarity, payment security, and professionalism in their transaction.

When to Use a Purchase Order

Here are some scenarios and situations when it is appropriate to use a purchase order:

  • Bulk Purchases: Purchase orders are often used when buying goods or services in bulk. This includes raw materials, office supplies, equipment, and more. By issuing a purchase order, you can clearly specify the quantity and details of what you need.
  • Long-Term Agreements: When entering into long-term agreements with suppliers or service providers, purchase orders help maintain consistency in ordering. This is common in industries like manufacturing, where regular shipments of materials are required.
  • Custom Orders: Businesses that require custom-made products or services benefit from purchase orders. These orders can specify unique requirements, ensuring the final product meets the buyer’s exact needs.
  • Budget Control: Purchase orders help organizations control their budgets. By having a documented purchase order, it’s easier to track expenses and ensure that purchases align with budgetary constraints.
  • Compliance and Audit Trails: Certain industries, such as healthcare and government, have strict compliance and audit requirements. Purchase orders provide a clear record of all transactions, making it easier to demonstrate compliance and track spending.

Industries such as manufacturing, construction, healthcare, and education frequently rely on purchase orders due to their complex procurement needs. However, any business can benefit from using purchase orders during the purchasing processes. 

Key Components of a Purchase Order

Here’s a breakdown of the essential elements found in a purchase order:

  • Client Information: This section typically includes the client’s name, address, contact information, and often a purchase order number for internal tracking purposes. 
  • Freelancer’s Information: Similarly, the purchase order should contain the freelancer’s details, including their name, address, and contact information. 
  • Item Descriptions: A clear and concise list of the items or services being rendered is essential. This includes detailed descriptions, specifications, and any relevant product codes or identifiers. This helps avoid confusion and ensures that both parties are on the same page regarding the products or services involved.
  • Quantities: Specify the quantities of each item or service being rendered.
  • Prices: Mention the agreed-upon unit prices for each item or service. Total costs can be calculated by multiplying the quantity by the price per unit. Including prices in the purchase order helps avoid disputes and clarifies the financial aspect of the transaction.
  • Terms: Outline the terms and conditions of the purchase, such as payment terms (e.g., Net 30, which means payment is due within 30 days), delivery or service completion dates, and any special instructions or requirements. Clearly defining these terms ensures both parties are aware of their obligations and responsibilities.
  • Signature and Authorization: Some purchase orders may require signatures or approvals from authorized personnel within the client’s organization. This adds an extra layer of accountability and validation to the order.

Now that we have a solid grasp of what a purchase order entails, let’s delve into the concept of an invoice in the upcoming sections.

What is an Invoice?

An invoice is essentially a document you send to your clients after you’ve completed a job or project for them. It serves as a request for payment, outlining the services you provided and the amount they owe you. Think of it as your way of making sure you get paid for the work you’ve done. It typically includes the following. 

Why do we use invoices?

Invoices are vital in business for these key reasons:

  • Documentation: Invoices provide a clear record of transactions, aiding in accounting, tax compliance, and auditing.
  • Legal Compliance: Many countries require invoices for tax purposes, ensuring adherence to regulations.
  • Payment Request: Invoices formally request payment, reducing payment confusion.
  • Trust Building: Professional invoices build trust with customers and partners.
  • Financial Planning: Invoices help businesses manage cash flow and make informed financial decisions.
  • Dispute Resolution: They serve as evidence should the need to resolve a dispute arise.
  • Reputation: Consistent use of well crafted invoices enhances a company’s professional reputation.

When do we use Invoices:

Invoices are typically generated after the products or services have been delivered to the buyer. This timing ensures that the invoice accurately reflects what was delivered and the corresponding costs. In essence, an invoice serves as a formal acknowledgment of the completed transaction.

Key Components of an Invoice:

  • Sender’s Details: This section contains the seller’s information, including their name or company name, address, contact information, and often a logo or branding elements for a professional touch.
  • Recipient’s Details: This section provides the buyer’s information, such as their name or company name, address, and contact information. It ensures that the invoice reaches the right party.
  • Invoice Number:<span style=”font-weight: 400;”> Each invoice is assigned a unique identifier, known as the invoice number. This helps in easy tracking and reference, especially when dealing with multiple invoices.
  • Itemized Charges: An invoice itemizes the products or services provided, detailing each item’s name, description, quantity, unit price, and total amount.
  • Payment Terms: The payment terms specify when the payment is due. Common terms include “Net 30,” which means payment is due within 30 days of the invoice date.
  • Due Date: This date indicates the deadline for the buyer to make the payment without incurring late fees or penalties.

Line items

Bonus: The Convenience of CheckYa in Creating Invoices:

Creating professional invoices can be a time-consuming task if done manually. CheckYa streamlines the invoice creation process and makes it simple by providing the following::

  • User-Friendly Interface: CheckYa offers a user-friendly interface that guides you on how toinput all necessary details, such as sender and recipient information, itemized charges, and payment terms.
  • Automated Calculations: CheckYa automatically calculates the totals, reducing the risk of errors in your invoices.
  • Digital Delivery: Once your invoice is ready, CheckYa simplifies the the delivery process by sending it to your clients via email, ensuring timely delivery.
  • Payment Integration: CheckYa enables you to accept payments via credit/debit card, ACH, PayPal, and other methods, making it convenient for your clients to settle the invoices using their preferred payment method.
  • Automated Reminders: CheckYa even offers automated reminders, allowing you to sending alerts to clients days before the due date, improving your chances of receiving timely payment.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to send an invoice to your clients in less than a minute using CheckYa.

Key differences between a Purchase Order and an Invoice:

AspectPurchase OrdersInvoices
DefinitionThe purchase order initiates a business transaction by specifying the buyer’s requirements and intent to purchase.The invoice concludes a transaction by requesting payment for goods or services delivered.
PurposeFormal request to a client for the provision of goods or services.Formal request for payment from the freelancer to the client for the goods or services provided.
ContentIncludes item descriptions, quantities, prices, delivery terms, and terms and conditions.Includes details of products or services provided, their costs, taxes, the total amount due, and payment terms.
TimingIssued before the delivery of goods or services.Issued after the work is complete 
Legal StatusServes as a legally binding agreement.Serves as a legally binding request for payment.
Payment RequestDoes not request payment but outlines the details of the order.Requests payment from the client for the goods or services provided.
Payment TermsTypically, no payment terms are mentioned in a purchase order.Specifies payment terms, including the due date, on the invoice.
ReconciliationRequires reconciliation with the invoice to ensure accuracy and compliance with the terms.The invoice serves as a reference point for payment reconciliation.
Role in the Transaction CycleInitiates the transaction cycle and sets expectations.Concludes the transaction cycle by facilitating payment.


In summary, purchase orders and invoices play vital roles in business transactions. While purchase orders initiate agreements, invoices conclude them. CheckYa, an efficient invoicing tool, simplifies this process, offering a seamless way to manage your invoices. By using CheckYa, you can enhance efficiency, reduce errors, and take control of your business’s financial success.

Send invoices via CheckYa

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Merry Christmas!
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Tired of wasting time on invoicing? ⏰
Switch to CheckYa invoicing, automate your billing process, and reclaim valuable hours in your day 💪🔥
Merry Christmas!
20% OFF
Tired of wasting time on invoicing? ⏰
Switch to CheckYa invoicing, automate your billing process, and reclaim valuable hours in your day 💪🔥
Payment processing fees eating into your income?
Switch to CheckYa invoicing, pass on the charges to your clients, & keep more of your earnings.💰🔥
Payment processing fees eating into your income? 😮
Switch to CheckYa invoicing, pass on the charges to your clients, & keep more of your earnings 💰🔥