Even though going digital is quickly becoming the norm among many forward-looking companies, the process is often difficult to realize fully. That is because most businesses deal with paper and document-dependent functions at the operational level. Something like a back-office in a typical company meeting with external stakeholders like vendors and customers is always dealing with truckloads of paper.
Back-office paperwork can be cumbersome and time-consuming, and not just because of the sheer volume of paper that piles up with every transaction. Typical document-dependent functions in the back-office like accounts payable and sales order processing involve handling a lot of unstructured and semi-structured documents. Unstructured documents like vendor invoices and receipts are not nice paragraphs of text. The data in these documents is just that: unstructured, meaning a great deal of manual data entry work is needed to get the data from these documents into a business application where most of the work on that data is done.
Many companies rely on line-of-business applications like ERPs, CRMs, and accounting software to get work done. These systems in turn rely on data from incoming transaction or source documents like vendor invoices, credit memos, customer sales orders, statements, receipts, packing slips, etc. All these documents are typically unstructured or semi-structured.
Also, a company may receive data from numerous channels like file shares, MFPs, scan, fax, post, email, etc. Sorting, classifying, and performing data entry work to get information from these documents into a line-of-business application can take up a lot of manual effort, time, and costs. Whenever a company interacts with its external stakeholders, data is generated. This data is mostly unstructured. To perform data entry and get only the required data from unstructured documents into, say, an ERP application takes time, knowledge, and manual effort.
Say, for example, you need to enter the latest vendor invoice details into an accounting system for final reconciliations and to make payments to the vendor. For this, you need to know exactly what details from the invoice to input into the accounting software, like line item details and header-footer information like TOTAL. Also, reconciling vendor payments involves firstly validating the invoice against a matching purchase order, and checking the number of items and TOTAL on both the documents. Other validation requirements may include a lot of business rules like checking the vendor details and making sure the payments for the invoice have not already been made to the vendor. Data validation checks like these are important to eliminate duplicate payments or underpayments to the vendor. A lot of participants are involved in data entry and data validation work. Also, when it comes to approving payments against an invoice, the invoices must be sent to the concerned verification manager for final inspection and approval. All these steps take time, and human error in one or more of these steps can delay processing of invoices from days to weeks.
Traditional capture technology employs OCR to automatically extract details from transaction documents like an invoice, saving companies time on data entry work.
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But this technology is limited in scope by its ability to process diverse document types. This technology is strictly template-based, meaning the software is pre-programmed to locate data from specific regions on an invoice like the bottom right corner for the invoice ‘TOTAL’ and the ‘item list’ in the body section of the invoice, and extract those details. Intelligent document processing , on the other hand, accommodates for document variability.
The intelligent document processing software is pre-programmed to enable data extraction from known invoice formats. Additionally, the software also has self-learning capabilities. That means that in the event the software is required to extract details from a new invoice for which it does not have the built-in capture logic and does not know where in the invoice to locate and extract the required details, it relies on self-learning. Self-learning means the software learns the user keystrokes performed to extract data from a new invoice the first time. The software then retrieves and applies this learning for when it needs to extract data from a similarly formatted invoice document the next time. This way, the intelligent document processing software adds to its growing database of capture logic with every new invoice type, thereby creating a vast database of capture definitions to extract data from a diverse set of document types.
Apart from an elimination of manual data entry work, this technology also dramatically and progressively reduces the number of times a user has to intervene to perform data entry for new document types, as a new capture definition is automatically created through self-learning with every new document type. Intelligent document processing software applies the ‘intelligence’ it acquires to process new document types, thereby expanding the scope and variability of documents it can capture.
Intelligent document processing creates a near-paperless and hands-free back-office. The advantages of adopting this technology for your mission critical work are cumulative and can be seen in many diverse sectors that involve heavy document processing work. We’ll look at a few of them.
- Finance & Accounting: accounting is synonymous with paper. Invoices, credit memos, bank checks, purchase orders, contracts, receipts, bank statements, etc. all require to be entered into a central accounting software system for them to be processed, managed, and reconciled for final payments. Rather than have your skilled staffers attend to hours of data entry and document processing work to get all transaction data from these documents into an accounting software, you can have an intelligent document processing solution handle it for you. A single platform solution such as this will help you reconcile invoices quickly and make timely payments to vendors, manage payroll and employee remuneration effortlessly, monitor finances continuously, and stay in control of incoming and outgoing cash.
- Healthcare: managing insurance claims again involves heavy paperwork and a lot of back-and-forth in claims validation, verification, eligibility, and approvals. This process can be hastened with intelligent document processing. Claims processing software, embedded with this technology, captures, extracts, validates, and verifies claim details — most solutions are programmed to capture claim details from standard claims forms including HCFA-1500/CMS-500 and UB-04/UB-92. Intelligent automation also enables automatic creation of claim records in back-end data systems according to compliance standards like the HIPAA 837 data format. A single flow of claims details from capture to final receipt generation helps businesses maintain a clear audit trail. Also, a single platform solution such as this enables both payers and providers to connect easily and ensure accelerated claims processing and reimbursements. Apart from insurance claims forms, intelligent document processing can be applied to process many other healthcare forms like bills, prescriptions, Medicaid and Medicare forms, medical proxy forms, treatment files, etc. Depending on the business requirement, the software can be pre-configured to process different medical documents. The gradual adoption of no-code solutions means that intelligent document processing software is also being developed on codeless architecture, making it convenient for businesses to pre-configure the software according to the documents they need to process, by using simple drag-and-drop features.
- Transportation & Logistics: only with the right paperwork can businesses accurately track and manage shipments, permits, and many mission critical documents that enable the smooth running of logistics. Paper-driven processes in the transportation sector can directly impact carrier and fleet management, bill of lading processing, permit management, driver recruitment and onboarding, and final product delivery to the customer. Intelligent document processing dramatically lowers the inefficiencies and costs arising from mismanaged or delayed paperwork. The software employs powerful intelligent capture and data extraction capabilities, required to upload any document type at the source itself, leaving little scope for the document to be lost or misplaced. Digitizing transportation paper documents at the source itself ensures that paperwork is uploaded into the right workflows for processing early. This helps businesses meet fleet and shipping requirements early, and deliver customer service on time. Automatic data entry, document validation, document routing for approvals, and report generation in a related business application like an ERP system means that companies have their eyes and ears on logistics constantly. This improves visibility, transparency, and accuracy of service delivery along the logistics chain.
- Sales and Distribution: a lot of work and preparation goes into meeting customer expectations and fulfilling customer demand. A critical aspect of this process involves customer sales border processing. This is mostly the wholesale part of the process, where a customer firstly requests a quotation. Once reviewed and the customer places an order for the goods, a sales order is created based on the information listed in the quotation. Sales order processing involves checking the inventory for the availability of goods ordered by the customer, checking the information on the sales order form to check if it complete, including confirming the pricing and customer details, scheduling the delivery of goods to the customer, sending the bill to the customer, and confirming or cross-checking with concerned personnel regarding the status of the sale and payment by the customer. The entire process to fulfill a customer order and processing of a sales order including inventory lookup, order preparation and scheduling for delivery, billing, etc. involves a lot of document processing work. This entire process flow from the time a sales order is generated to final delivery of goods and billing the customer can be automated with intelligent document processing software. Again, minimal manual intervention along the entire sales order process means lower inefficiencies and errors, and faster delivery of service to the customer.
- Human Resources — Employee Onboarding: a lot of paperwork is generated when new hires are prepared to be inducted into a company. A lot of forms need to be generated or filled up including new employee forms, I-9s and W-4s, employee contracts, agreements, paperwork induction into the company payrolls, as well as training and orientation paperwork. This means a lot of data entry and document processing work. An intelligent document processing software with powerful data capture capabilities helps companies ease the busyness around the onboarding process and automate the steps from hiring to final employee induction into a single process flow.
Find out how Artsyl fits into your digitization and digital transformation plans and learn how we tackle your everyday document processing challenges intelligently. Contact us today for a product demo of our intelligent document processing solutions.