Data Extraction

Intelligent invoice processing: A complete guide

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Intelligent invoice processing: A complete guide

Accounts payable is a key financial function for any business. Corporations can have thousands of suppliers; even for relatively smaller businesses, the number of suppliers could be in hundreds. All the invoices they receive from these suppliers come in multiple formats, layouts, and templates - some semi-structured, some unstructured. Therefore, firms expend time and resources to capture invoice information through manual data entry and verification of accounts payable. 

Manual data entry is not feasible in the long run, definitely not on a large scale. Before we talk about how intelligent invoicing solves the problems associated with manual invoicing, let’s discuss the challenges in much detail.

So, let’s jump right into it:-

Current challenges in invoice processing

1. Multiple invoice data points resulting in mistakes

Large corporations get bills from various vendors via multiple means, including structured XML documents via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), PDFs, and picture files via email, and less frequently as hard copy papers. Bringing all of these distinct sorts of invoices into the unified system requires a great deal of time and human labor. Error-prone data entry at the beginning of the invoice processing workflow can lead to mistakes such as paying the same invoice twice, paying the wrong amount, duplicating invoices, etc. 

2. Invoice matching

The accounts payable team must use "stare and compare" to execute two-way or three-way invoice data matching with a purchase order (PO), goods received note (GRN), and contracts data. Consider how much time and money your team wastes when the identical action is performed hundreds of times every day. In addition, even the most vigilant human eye cannot ensure correctness, since the team may overlook dates, values, or calculations, which can eventually slow down the entire department, result in overpayments, and expose the business to a range of problems. 

3. Cost per invoice processed

The continuous invoice processing process is mostly manual, with expenditures such as manual hours, paper, and postage placing the true cost of manual invoice processing between $12 and $30 each invoice. In addition, there are other hidden expenses, such as missing early payment discounts, late fines, and accounting mistakes. 

Intelligent invoicing workflow - How intelligent invoicing works?

Let's have a look at automated invoice processing using intelligent document processing:-

Step 1: Simplifying invoice import and data extractions

Receive invoices through portal, email, or postal mail. This process is automated and requires no operator intervention. 

  1. E-invoicing: approximately 600 varieties of pre-configured UBL/XML formats 
  2. Scanned paper invoices sent via email or sFTP 
  3. It is possible to handle both image and text PDF invoices. 

Step 2: Divide invoices automatically (for scanned batches of invoices and multiple invoices per pdf) 

Splitting and sorting engine. We may break huge papers into distinct invoices. 

  • No bar codes, stickers, or page separation is necessary. 
  • Emails, attachments, and bills all be maintained in a single document if necessary. 
  • All individual invoices obtain a Unique Identification Number 
  • Data extraction from pdf/paper invoices 
  • Language & character-set independent (Chinese, Arabic and Cyrillic scripts) 
  • Several OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technologies are used to extract data from e-mailed and printed bills. 

EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE: If multi-line booking is necessary for non-PO bills, we employ technologies based on deep learning. For certain circumstances, we have implemented solutions based on templates. 

Step 3: Automatic matching of POs and non-POs 

Identification of the document type: 

  • Recognize Purchase Order invoices, non-PO invoices, and Credit Notes. 
  • Capability to match several POs to a single invoice 

Step 4: Invoice validation: accounting and compliance review 

  • Verification of all the information on the invoice is recorded accurately in the system Essential manual checks immediately after go-live (operations) 
  • Immediate and significant time savings for invoice validation (fewer clicks required) 
  • Once trust has been established, human inspections per vendor may be omitted, and validation becomes highly automated. 

Step 5: Invoice approval (usually for non-PO bills only) and exporting of invoices 

Advanced workflow for invoice approval: 

  • Unlimited multi-level approval possibilities available 
  • Matrix-based approval procedures are supported. 
  • Low upkeep, as the organization is controlled independently from the invoice approval procedure. 
  • Accessible from all mobile devices 

The posting of the bill: 

  • Provides an audit trail 
  • Towards any online (API) or batch (sFTP) ERP system. 

Benefits of intelligent invoice processing automation

Automated invoice processing has advanced well beyond simple Optical Character Recognition technology. There are already a variety of choices that automate the full purchase-to-payment process, from scanning to data extraction to invoice submission. Whether on paper or in an electronic format, the appropriate software can intelligently extract vital data, validate it according to a predefined set of criteria, and streamline the entire process. 

Here are some of the advantages of choosing for an automated system for invoice processing: 

#1 Process Invoices more rapidly 

Without an invoice processing automation solution, processing invoices, confirming the figures, and obtaining the necessary permissions might take up to two weeks. By establishing a simplified workflow for the procedure, an automated system can significantly shorten the duration. 

#2 Minimize errors 

Due to the data input and many communication channels between departments, manual operations are susceptible to mistakes. It is possible for lost invoices, miscalculations, and process mistakes to occur at any moment, especially when a high number of products are being processed. With an automated system, you can eliminate mistakes and improve precision. 

#3 Avoid delays and late fees 

In a manual procedure involving several bills from suppliers and vendors, there are going to be many hits and misses. Occasionally, vendor agreements include late fees and penalties, which may increase your expenses. A solution for automated invoice processing can help you avoid these fines and expedite the invoicing process. 

#4 Maximize visibility 

Manual filing and sifting through mounds of paper make it hard to obtain a thorough perspective of the entire process. Lack of transparency can result in unresolved issues, such as inefficient operations, under-reported costs, and incomplete accruals. Automation increases visibility throughout the whole process chain, providing the essential data to solve issues as they emerge. 

#5 Enhance supplier relationships 

Your connections with external vendors and suppliers are vital to the success of your organization. Inaccurate invoicing or late payments frequently result in strained relationships, which can have a detrimental effect on your organization. A system that ensures on-time payments and eliminates the back-and-forth calls and bother typically experienced by suppliers can help establish strong relationships. 

#6 Observation and reporting 

With the improved transparency provided by automation, your organization can readily monitor costs and determine where and when money is spent. The majority of invoice processing technologies are outfitted with significant reporting and analytics features that give a visual representation of the data in real-time, allowing you to make informed business decisions. 

#7 Frees your assets 

The tedious manual labor connected with invoice processing might leave your Accounts Payable department with little time for other tasks. By implementing an automated technology for invoice processing, you can expedite the process and free up your resources to focus on other critical activities. 

#8 Rapid ROI and cost savings 

Consider the amount of time you save while processing each invoice. And what about the decreased amount of resources you now use to do the task? In addition, you are no longer required to pay late fees or penalties. The cumulative impact of automating your department's invoice processing delivers a rapid return on investment and enormous savings over time. 

#9 Tailoring your procedures 

Improve your enterprise's invoice processing by adapting the procedures to its individual requirements. For example, if you receive bills via numerous channels, such as email, postal mail, or fax, you may design the tool to collect data from all of these sources. Similarly, if you have a multi-step approval procedure, you can build the automated workflow to your specifications. This provides you the flexibility and control to scale as needed. 

Gaining the competitive advantage 

Despite the numerous benefits associated with automating processes, a number of firms continue to rely on manual procedures. Change, however important, may be challenging for many people; thus, embracing automation early on can provide you a competitive advantage in terms of, among other things, time savings and mistake reduction. 

Talk to us today if you’re on your way to automate invoice processing. Schedule a free demo to figure out how Docsumo can help your accounts payable workflow end-to-end.

Suggested Case Study
Automating Portfolio Management for Westland Real Estate Group
The portfolio includes 14,000 units across all divisions across Los Angeles County, Orange County, and Inland Empire.
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Pankaj Tripathi
Written by
Pankaj Tripathi

Helping enterprises capture data for analytics and decisioning

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