Paperless office, document digitization, automated invoice processing, online accounting – if you are tempted by these trends, keep reading…
It seems obvious at the first sight that if we start with automation and digitization of invoices instead of their manual rewriting, we will save time and money and improve processes at every level.
… BUT IS THIS TRUE?
Ask yourself the following questions before you jump right into data extraction:
- How sophisticated are invoices from your suppliers?
- How can you simplify invoice digitization processes?
- Do you need more than just OCR system?
Not every company is ready for a paperless office. As a digital service provider, we would love to tell every client that they are ready, and we can provide our digital service to them; however, the reality is sometimes different. That’s why we have prepared a simple manual for every company to figure out whether they are ready for complex accounting service digitization or not.
1. How sophisticated are invoices from your suppliers?
- Are invoices from your suppliers printed on paper with low quality?
- Do these invoices combine different colours, fonts or logo?
- Do you spend time by manually selecting invoices, separating lists or sticking bar codes?
If the answers to these questions are YES, there is a big chance that full automation of your processes will not be possible.
Low quality paper makes it difficult for OCR (optical character recognition) to properly recognize signs and letters. It might get stuck on any sign or extract it incorrectly, e.g. number 8 can be incorrectly extracted as 0, or letter B as letter H.
What can you do about it?
Be one step ahead!
If you want to decrease your costs, start right at the beginning and ask your suppliers to send you invoices in electronic form – as PDF, EDI or another structured form.
Note.: European Union supports e-accounting across all Union’s countries.
2. How can you simplify invoice digitization processes?
It is important to know which data you really need to extract. Do you need only header data or do you need to include lines?
As a general rule, it is not effective to extract all the data from an invoice. Focus only on the data that you really need. Otherwise, the process can be unnecessary difficult and long in order to get extracted data that you might find useful. Less is more.
Set up clear goal!
What you expect from automation? Do you want to save costs or digitize AP management? All the answers have an impact on the final concept of the solution.
If the main goal is to set up an effective approval workflow, data extraction can be an unnecessary burden. In that case, approval process can be prepared as simple digitization with manual data rewriting of 2-3 general fields.
3. Do you need more than just OCR system?
Prepare yourself for the fact that success of data extraction can be different every time. There are more factors that affect the result:
- Paper quality
- Scan tool state
- New requirements on extracted fields
- Legislation changes (like new VAT level)
Get these tasks done by an external provider!
If you decide you will go for e-accounting, there are two options. The more expensive one is to buy your own OCR software. A more convenient and cheaper option is to buy the service from an external provider.
To outsource the service will provide complex portfolio of extraction service including sorting, sticking bar codes, scanning, error rewriting and archiving invoices. The documents can be available for the client in 24 hours since delivery.
Outsourcing companies usually provide digital processes for invoice approval, so you will receive full service.
Be paperless – but really paperless!
Paper documents are slowly disappearing from our lives and the trend will grow. Legislation endorses that by not requesting paper forms of invoices.
Be really paperless by a complex switch to EDI, ISDOC or self-billing. Complete the process by adding data extraction and online approval workflows. Only then your office can be called paperless.
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