Invoice Scanning and Data Capture: Phase One of Invoice Automation

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Surprisingly, a large portion of accounts payable (AP) departments still rely on paper-based invoice processes. Paper invoices represent over 90 percent of the invoices processed by 27.9 percent of respondents to the Institute of Financial Professionals’ 2013 AP Automation Study.

The overreliance on paper processes presents the biggest challenge to efficient AP workflow and invoice management. It’s for this reason that scanning and data capture is typically the first phase of an end-to-end accounts payable automation strategy. In this approach, companies use scanning and data capture to immediately remove paper from their invoice processes, and then integrate a supplier portal or e-invoicing to continue their progress towards AP transformation.

Scanning and data capture mitigates the downside of paper invoices. Specifically, it reduces the number of manual business processes and is an important part of many AP transformation initiatives. Other important benefits of invoice scanning and data capture include:

  • Labor Cost Savings. AP departments using invoice scanning solutions lower their labor costs by eliminating or greatly reducing manual keying. Research suggests that combining optical character recognition (OCR) and human data verification yields the lowest data error rates at optimal AP processing costs.
  • No Invoice Processing Bottlenecks. Any volume of domestic and foreign invoices can be processed, provided that invoice scanning and data capture solutions are properly configured. Many scanning and data capture solutions can be trained on different invoice types to yield an exceptionally high automation rate.
  • Data Extraction Quantity and Quality Improvements. Using automated invoice scanning, more business data can be extracted than would be captured if invoices were processed manually. Errors in invoice data entry are typically reduced, resulting in fewer downstream issues (e.g. supplier disputes). Invoices without OCR errors can be automatically forwarded for "touch-less" invoice processing.
  • Better Compliance. Companies can implement compliance checks based on data extracted from invoices. AP automation technology, coupled with more accurate data, allows more sophisticated business rules to be implemented and ensures that all business rules and compliance requirements are enforced.
  • No Missing Invoices. For many enterprises, a valuable benefit of automating the invoice receipt process is fewer lost or missing invoices. This facilitates better supplier relationships, lowers supplier inquiries, and enables improved discount capture.
  • Invoice Access and Visibility. Invoice automation facilitates immediate visibility of all scanned invoices, making invoices accessible and actionable to all authorized personnel, regardless of time zone or geography.

Direct Insite provides scanning and data capture services that combine with our e-invoicing suite to offer AP departments a modular solution for their entire invoice processing needs -- no matter what format the invoice is received or how far along they are in automating their invoice processing.

As the initial phase of Direct Insite’s end-to-end Accounts Payables solution, companies are able to eliminate paper, reduce costs, achieve real-time cash flow visibility, and spend less time processing invoices and more time on core competencies.

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