Your Data Capture Strategy Matters
In an AP Automation system (our specialty) there are generally four different document & data capture methodologies.
But that’s only part of the data capture equation. Most organizations receive invoices from a variety of different channels and in all kinds of media/formats.
The key to streamlining the data capture process in your AP automation system is to quickly and efficiently identify incoming documents, separate them into their logical groups and route them to the the appropriate people or process. This means developing a strategy that identifies incoming documents by source (EDI file, email, etc. ) and media (paper, electronic), and separate them into individual documents/files (single or multi-page) and routes them to the appropriate people/queue or processes/systems. For example a multi-page PO based invoice file in PDF format comes into a designated email box. ICG’s Document Assembly Tool (DAT – see illustration below) would identify that file, automatically route it to the DAT tool where a user can separate single from multi-page invoices. From that point the system would automatically route the invoices for matching and upload into the financial system for payment.
We turn everything incoming into actionable data for your back office. Our data & document capture tools are designed to accommodate large and medium sized AP operations who receive a wide variety of invoices/payment demands from multiple sources and in many formats.
ICG Webinar Series
Data Capture & Document Assembly Demo
A cornerstone of true AP Automation is to parse everything your department receives and turn it into one predictable (and actionable) format. Here’s how we do it.Watch Video
Take a look at the Pros and Cons for each data capture option:
|Type of Document Capture:||Pros:||Cons:|
|Scan/Data Entry||Least costly to implement; ideal for low transaction volume||Labor Intensive|
|Scan/OCR (Optical Character Recognition)||Reduces time costs and effort over manual data entry processes||Inaccurate data reads can lead to costly QA costs and processing errors|
|EDI||Ideal for larger vendors with standard electronic file format||Limited to larger and/or more IT sophisticated organizations|
|Electronic Invoice Submission/ Alternate Electronic Capture||Includes web invoicing and file uploading; ideal for all size AP operations; best cost-benefit ratio||May have limited use for invoices with many line items|
ICG does not have our own OCR solution, why re-invent the wheel? ICG has over 25 years experience working with OCR in varying capacities integrating with a variety of OCR solutions with applications ranging from claims processing to accounts payable invoice data extraction. By far the most experience with this technology is with our clients who are automating their AP operations with ICG.
The most recognizable approach is the use of a full OCR package as a tool to extract data from more complex documents, such as invoices. These solutions are very specialized and come with many challenges, including variable forms between vendors, similarity between vendor forms, high variable document quality, etc. Reliably extracting invoice information without significant manual verification/correction in these environments can be very challenging. In fact, implementing OCR in these environments often results in OCR technology adding more effort and cost to the process, not less. Conversely, in environments with very clean invoices, from relatively few suppliers in situations where invoices are less likely to me marked-up or damaged. These environments are generally more well suited to invoice data extraction via OCR. In many years working with our customers in these situations ICG has integrated with many solutions.
When implementing these sorts of OCR products, there are several questions to ask:
- What percentage of our invoices actually require OCR?
- Of the invoice population that require OCR, what percentage are not conducive to high-quality OCR extraction, such as images with colored backgrounds, invoices printed on dot-matrix or impact style printers, or documents that are significantly marked up.
- How many form templates will be needed to support the required accuracy?
- If form templates are used, how will these be created and maintained?
- If formless data extraction or automatic form learning are used, how effective are these strategies, given your population of vendors/forms?
- What is our tolerance for errors? How will we validate to reduce errors?
ICG assists our customers in evaluating their population of incoming invoices and helps them to develop a holistic strategy that includes data capture from electronic invoices from numerous sources as well as from paper-based invoice using a variety of tools and methods.
Virtually all stand-alone OCR products have tools that allow their solution to integrate with the line-of-business applications that they support. ICG does not mandate which package to use, but does require our customers have, and allow ICG access to, the tools in order to successfully integrate our solutions to the target OCR solution.