Data Capture as Part of AP Automation

The idea of document capture or document scanning has been around for some time, but the ability to capture the data from a document is a more recent development. Manual data entry won’t work in organizations receiving and processing more than 1,000 invoices per month, as it is time consuming, labor intensive, slow and costly. Automating information gathering is by far the preferred option as it is fast, accurate and inexpensive. The speed at which invoice information can be fed into a system can seriously affect cash flows.

Today, data capture technologies are used by a wide range of businesses with differing purposes and levels of complexity. Scanning is often an organization’s first investment in data capture, providing immediate benefits for document archiving and preservation. But for many businesses, scanning is only the first step in a process that yields extraordinary benefits and cost savings down the road.

Capture Chart

Traditionally, companies receive invoices in various forms: PDFs, e-invoices, images, Excel files, HTML pages, scanned paper, etc. Invoices can enter companies via different channels including e-mail, vendors’ portals, web services, fax and regular mail. It seems to be quite essential to use the system capable to capture data from documents irrespective of their forms and the channels they come from. Data Capture software vendors offer special solutions for documents data extraction. However, in the case of invoices, whose relevant information can be placed anywhere on the form, data capture alone does not identify where the important pieces of information are on the page. The ability to capture and classify data, recognizing common fields regardless of their placement, minimizes the potential for error. Apart from capturing such relevant data it’s also significant to intelligently extract structured information from them.

Optical Character Recognition technology ensures successful converting of different types of documents (PDF files, images) into editable and searchable data. Using this technology will help identify important data from the forms such as vendor names, addresses, items, prices, terms and date of payment. Data Capture software with added OCR technology can bring major advantages to businesses. However, the process of integrating Data Capture software with the AP automation solution is quite a costly and time consuming undertaking.

The best solution to automate invoices data entry and processing seems to lie in combining Data Capture technology with Accounts Payable automation or Invoice Management software. In this case the overall process of data capture thru transfer to the system, submission for approval and storage is carried out and controlled within one system. While OCR technology provides the ability to intelligently extract essential data from invoices of different forms, the AP automation system receives such captured invoices, processes and moves them through the workflow procedure. Moreover, AP automation software can improve the quality of data capture process, as it contains a good amount of additional information, which helps restore invoice missing data. Combining the two solutions brings no additional expenses and leads to reducing operational errors.

Understanding the advantages and benefits of the system that automates the whole process of invoice management starting from the invoice capture thru verification and approval, more and more accounts payable software providers offer various advanced solutions like Conterra FIM by Orienge. Technology can be useful only when it serves humanity. When understanding customer needs and listening to their queries, software companies can develop best solutions.