Successful Invoice Automation

Planning and deploying successful invoice automation!

Imagine processing invoices as fast as you can snap your fingers.

Sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? You would (practically) never have to manually process or manually hand-key information again. Eliminating the inefficiency of paper-based invoices and manual processing with an electronic invoice management system can increase control over the entire payables process. This is all done through proper workflow management, advanced capture capabilities, robots, and artificial intelligence (but more on this later on).

digital mailroom automation on a mobile device

What is Invoice Automation?

Invoice automation is a hands-free process to direct and process incoming invoices, and it’s becoming a crucial part of ‘tomorrows’ ap teams. Tomorrows most innovative accounts payable teams are recognizing the largest ROI by implementing these new technologies (especially those with 5 or more team members).

In addition, invoice automation handles both physical paper invoices, as well as electronic invoices despite; however, they do have slightly different processes. For paper invoices, there is a bit more manual work because they have to be scanned in (which is one of the steps you should strive to eliminate). But, both use OCR (optical character recognition) to extract the data from the invoices (like supplier, invoice date, amount, dates, etc.). Shameless plug, but we happen to offer an extremely advanced, capture software outfitted with artificial intelligence capabilities. This means, over time with the more invoices that are seen by the software your system continually comes ‘smarter’ about extracting that information. We call it Forms Magic’.

digital mailroom automation is the least risky option for organizations

What is Invoice Automation?

Invoice automation is a hands-free process to direct and process incoming invoices, and it’s becoming a crucial part of ‘tomorrows’ ap teams. Tomorrows most innovative accounts payable teams are recognizing the largest ROI by implementing these new technologies (especially those with 5 or more team members).

In addition, invoice automation handles both physical paper invoices, as well as electronic invoices despite; however, they do have slightly different processes. For paper invoices, there is a bit more manual work because they have to be scanned in (which is one of the steps you should strive to eliminate). But, both use OCR (optical character recognition) to extract the data from the invoices (like supplier, invoice date, amount, dates, etc.). Shameless plug, but we happen to offer an extremely advanced, capture software outfitted with artificial intelligence capabilities. This means, over time with the more invoices that are seen by the software your system continually comes ‘smarter’ about extracting that information. We call it Forms Magic’.

 

The Benefits of Invoice Automation

// Going Paperless


What’s worse than a paper invoice? Not being able to find it. We’ve all been there – you receive it on a Tuesday, place it in a very specific place on your desk, and when Wednesday afternoon comes around it’s lost from all the shuffling on your desk. Paper invoices are not only expensive to process from a manually inputting perspective but the time spent searching for information only adds frustration on top. With an invoice automation system, you’re able to go (practically) completely paperless.

In addition, chances are that more than over 30% of the invoices you receive are still paper-based (according to iPayables). While paper invoices may never go away completely, new strategies can save up to 62% of invoice processing costs by eliminating all the paper in your process. And there are other benefits as well.

digital mailroom automation is the least risky option for organizations

// Kicking Off Workflows for Invoice Automation


Workflows are one of the most important parts of an invoice automation system. With workflows you’re able to route the correct invoice to the correct correspondent, depending on the level of seniority or account managers. The best aspect as that this is completely customizable to each organization, so you can set up what works best for you and your team. Workflow (our software offering) is included with an invoice automation system, and we also have a fantastic onboarding process to set you up for success and not need to depend on an external team. Workflows can be as easy or as advanced as you’d like to set them up so if you’d like to start easy and work towards continual improvement that’s no problem.

digital mailroom automation is the least risky option for organizations

// Team Transparency


With an invoice automation system, it becomes really easy to keep your entire team informed on the status of each invoice. Although sometimes account managers handle specific invoices, senior-level execs gain the advantage of staying on top of their department. In addition, when you partner your invoice automation system with a document management system, you’re able to share information effortlessly, and also track who and when those invoices were accessed. Transparency helps speed communication and openness across teams, allowing you to focus on more important tasks rather than continually explaining the status on certain invoices.

digital mailroom automation is the least risky option for organizations

// Working with Experts


Since this service is ‘on the upswing’ we’ve seen organizations benefit greatly from having a partner help you through this process. Setting up an invoice automation system can involve a lot of moving parts, and they can help you get comfortable using and setting up some of the different technological pieces. And, as a bonus, they have experience doing this in other organizations and can help you bypass some of the entry-level ‘learning mistakes.’ From a pricing perspective for something like this, some organizations will charge you a consulting fee. However, we here at Imagetek don’t believe in nickle and diming companies, and instead, bundle all your set-up costs in with your package.

digital mailroom automation is the least risky option for organizations
digital mailroom automation is the least risky option for organizations
digital mailroom automation is the least risky option for organizations

// Eliminating manual entry (and their errors)


In the old process, the majority of information was input manually into the accounting software (like QuickBooks). Meaning someone is responsible for inputting every piece of information for an invoice into a database. The average (discovered and reported by iPayables) was that the average person can manually enter 5 invoices per hour. In contrast, OCR can process 22 invoices an hour – a 340% increase in productivity! In addition to that, the hand key errors are significantly less since you’re utilizing a trained system.

digital mailroom automation is the least risky option for organizations

Part 2 – The different components of AP Automation

// Component #1: Scanning


Scanning is the process of taking physical papers (such as invoices) and turning it into a digital format – usually into a picture of some sort. However, the second part of the scanning process is a bit more important, but that’s covered in the next session. This phase involves both hardware and software: 1) a physical scanner (such as a Panasonic scanner) and Capture software.

You can also use a batch scanner. Batch scanners are designed for large volumes of paper documents – and in this case invoices. If you are processing more than 20 invoices at a time, a batch scanner saves a considerable amount of time and effort throughout the lifetime of the hardware. Saving a few minutes every day over the span adds up to some serious productivity boosting – not to mention less time sitting at the scanner. Our flagship Capture software also has great both batch and regular scanning capabilities as well.

///// BONUS POINTS


Forms Magic has revolutionized our AP processes! We’ve been able to cut our invoice processing time by over 75%. We’re saving the organization money and improving relationships with our business partners. We love Forms Magic!“

 

  1. Invoices take only 15 minutes to process instead of overan hour, saving more than 10,000 hours of productivityannually

  2. 100% of documents are now protected from disaster

  3. Now saves more than $40 per invoice processed, a total cost savings of $676,000 per year

  4. Implementation and training for nine people were completed in just a week.

// Component #2: Indexing


Once the physical document is scanned into the computer, and it is turned into an image, you can begin to enter in the metadata. Metadata helps make these images searchable in the future, so that when you’re searching for an invoice that you prococessed six months ago you’re able to locate it with ease. This is another huge incentive to finally ditch those filing cabinets too.

With metadata, you’re able to pick out things like company name, invoice numbers, who it’s from, the amounts, dates, etc. Pretty much anything that is on the invoice is able to be entered into their corresponding fields.

digital mailroom automation is the least risky option for organizations

As you can see, extraction software is automatically pulling off certain line items off of invoices. Virtually any type of information is able to be pulled off and stored for later use. Whatever your business needs, the software is here to serve.

However, new technologies have deloped that eliminates both of these steps – which has what Imagetek has been working diligently to offer and provide. Our more advanced systems utilize artificial intelligence to not only extract the data from invoices but to also key in that metadata on your behalf.

But it doesn’t stop there.

It then takes that information and enters it into your accounts payable system for you.

Imagine having an electronic invoice getting sent to you, it gets automatically routed to your AP system, and then all you have to do is approve the data entry the software provided for you.

 

// Component #3: ECM Integraion


One of the last phases you enter when setting up your AP automation system is the ‘what now?’ phase. Well, at least we hope not, but this is a possibility so we wanted to address it.

After you’ve got everything set up and you’re receiving all of these new documents (whether electronic or paper) it can be confusing on knowing what to do with it – especially with a capture system in place. We recommend setting up or integrating into an ECM (electronic content management) system. It’s the same thing as a document management system – just a different term.

Here you can search for old invoices and it comes back with a ton of data. The reason we recommend a system like this is that they are secure, built for collaboration, and already integrate with your new AP automation processes.

Once a document is scanned in or you receive it in your email, there is a little prep work involved but essentially it goes right into Radix or your own document management system.

digital mailroom process extracting data off of documents using artificial intelligence

In addition, with Workflow (an Imagetek product), you’ll be able to autoamte the routing of all incoming information – think of it like the brains behind the organization.

Workflow also helps with destruction and retention policies, audit trails (for all sorts of compliance), and more. This ensures your invoices don’t clog your system, but ensure they are ready and easily accessible when you need them most.

digital mailroom integrations into line of business software

// Component #3: RPA (Robotic Process Automation)


About five years ago, RPA entered the market as technology companies began using “bots” to log into applications and perform routine tasks, replacing the human effort previously required. As we look ahead to the next decade, Intelligent Automation (IA) appears to be the next breakthrough BPA trend as companies begin to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) to further automate nonroutine processes and more complex information.

As for Accounts Payable processes in particular, we can help companies build bots to ‘hand key’ the information into their accounting systems for them by using bots. These bots work by taking the information that’s extracted from invoices (detailed above on pages 13 & 14), and automatically enter it on your teams behalf. Pretty awesome, right? We think so.

This makes your processes incredibly efficient, as the majority of your invoices are now processed without using any human interaction. They are also are more accurate than humans because they don’t have any hand-keying errors.

digital mailroom software using eforms or electronic forms software to route incoming data

In fact, when companies utilize new technologies and begin implementing RPA and AI (artificial intelligence) into their AP processes, you can process in excess of 85% of all invoices without any human interaction!!

digital mailroom automation showcasing the top used workflows across industries

Things to Remember about Invoice Automation

1) There are other providers of invoice automation systems, but it’s important to understand if they can offer the entire ecosystem. This way you won’t have to cobble different software‘s together as this creates a layer of technical challenges (or incompatibilities) and inefficiencies.

2) Every system is different, but the theory should remain consistent. We’ve kept things simple by explaining this concept with how it works with our products. We did this to keep things simple since we’re not 100% confident how other systems work. And, as a shameless plug, we’d love to have you as a customer too so we might sell ourselves a little.

3) How does the pricing work? Is it a system you buy once our right and then maintain yourself? Or is it a SaaS setup? Our software is a SaaS offering – or better known as software as a service. This makes it so you don’t have to buy or download any software (besides Capture) to any of computers, and can instead access your information and invoices on any computer, and you’ll always have access to our support team.

4) Imagetek’s system is ERP-Agnostic, meaning it works and it integrates with other systems and document management systems.

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