It’s not just about OCR
Document and data capture has long been one of the most discussed and researched technologies in the financial back-office and accounts payable worlds. In fact, the need to automate the digitization of documents, and the capturing of data from those documents, was the driver of the development of both OCR and workflow technologies starting back in the 1980s. Companies with high volume transaction processing requirements, such as insurance companies who process millions of customer claims each year or large AP operations that must process incoming invoices for payment, drove the need for utilizing emerging advances in computing technology to develop document and data capture technologies. These environments had a need to process these documents and retrieve the critical data contained therein in a relatively timely manner. Before the advent of document and data capture automation this meant employing many human resources to manually data enter information from the incoming paper documents into financial and claims processing systems. The advent of document imaging and related OCR software was the beginning of a new era for these large processing operations.
Like everything else around us, the world of capture has evolved and there are many more choices than ever before to obtain the documents and data critical to running your businesses. The digitization of many documents now includes web forms for claims submission, emailing of invoices embedded in PDF files, EDI (electronic data interchange), evaluated receipts (where invoices are paid based on receiving information) to name a few of the more popular methods of digitizing documents and electronically capturing data without the need for manual data entry.
Now there are even more options for capturing documents and data and many of these solutions are cloud hosted and can be easily incorporated as part of an AP Automation system. One of the more popular methodologies is the use of vendor portals (supplier portals) to take advantage of some of the other electronic capture solutions:
- PO Flip – pull lines from PO in back-end financial system to populate invoice
- Invoice Web Form – vendor provided data entry via a web form
- File Submit – submit billing files via the portal in defined formats
- EDI light – vendor supplied data for lost or dropped EDI data from a transmission
- Document Assembly – parse out PDF files into individual invoice documents for data capture
Through integrations or interfaces, buying companies can take electronic data and import that data into their ERP or back-end financial systems with little or no human intervention. These processes not only save money and allow companies to redeploy resources to more value added tasks, but decrease cycle times which allows companies to take advantage of early pay discounts offered or even to implement a dynamic discounting program.
There are many opportunities for companies to “up their game” when it comes to capturing actionable data with minimal or no human intervention. The methods you choose depend on a number of factors including vendor makeup, technological footprint, and management support. One of the first steps in evaluating what options may be available in your organization starts with a vendor stratification exercise. To perform this task you can evaluate each of your vendors based on volumes, level of spend, criticality of products and services provided, level of discounting offered, technological savvy, current document/data submission methodologies and the perceived potential to adapt to new methodologies.
If you would like to evaluate how your organization can take advantage of capture technologies or need help in developing a supplier stratification exercise contact ICG today and we an setup a conversation with your team. If you would like to view a demo of some of the solutions and methodologies we have discussed click this link to request a demonstration.