Digital Transformation and Intelligent Capture<br> Complete the ERP Process Automation Equation

Digital Transformation and Intelligent Capture
Complete the ERP Process Automation Equation

While most companies today rely on their existing ERP systems to manage their business data and support their business processes, the reality is that these systems were designed to handle only half of the equation at best. Designed to store and manage structured data, ERP systems have struggled to adapt to a world where unstructured data (including documents, images, video, etc.) is now the prevalent and fastest-growing source of information.

Fortunately, as the world of information has continued to evolve towards more and more unstructured content, technologies that can intelligently capture information and derive a structure from unstructured content have evolved by leaps and bounds. As a result, process automation for back office operations like accounts payable (notoriously document-heavy and error-prone), has taken off.

When it comes to the finance, procure-to-pay represents a great starting point. The business case for automation is clear, and the precedent for achieving a relatively quick ROI is well established. But for CFOs and finance teams that want to take an additional step back to look at the big picture, process automation and intelligent capture technologies have the potential to have a broader and deeper impact on the financial supply chain.

Here’s how…

Procure to Pay: The Starting Point

When it comes to achieving efficiencies by eliminating manual processes and streamlining access to data, the P2P process represents low-hanging fruit for most companies. The costs to manage payables invoices manually can be 10x the cost of automating the process of procurement document handling, data entry, approval routing and ERP transaction processing.

Opportunities to automate and streamline steps in this process include:

  • Invoice pre-processing: while many organizations have made attempts to go paperless and get vendors to conform to a structured invoicing process, one study from the Hackett Group showed that, on average, only 19% of companies received invoices electronically. In reality, while most companies are seeing a decline in paper invoices, they are simultaneously seeing increased diversity in how electronic invoices are submitted, leading to greater complexity. Intelligent capture solutions represent one component of an automated approach, allowing AP to extract data from both paper and electronic documents, regardless of how they are received or what format they may take. This significantly reduces time/effort on document handling and data entry.
  • Verification and approval: Automated AP solutions can leverage the data they have extracted from documents to route them for approval, supporting verification of accounting codes while providing automated matching for PO-based invoices.
  • ERP transaction entry: integration between AP Automation solutions and ERP systems make it easy to pass data through from extraction to approval to the ERP system without any manual data entry. Speeding up this entire process does more than accelerate payment cycle times; it provides finance with more timely and accurate information, leading to better cash management and the ability to optimize payment timing to take advantage of early pay discounts.

For some companies, automating P2P is the beginning and end of their process automation experience. But for a growing number of companies, the cost savings and business benefits achieved leads to further process automation, with the O2C process next on the agenda.

New Frontiers: Beyond Finance

Beyond finance, digital transformation and process automation can extend the same benefits to any process that is dependent on data and documents or other unstructured content. By automating routine tasks like data entry and document handling, firms achieve timely access to accurate, validated data.

This data is a gold mine from the standpoint of both process automation and business intelligence, supporting faster, more efficient automated processes but also more informed decision-making.

For companies beginning their journey by automating their P2P process, the good news is that their efforts will not only likely produce a quick pay-off for the firm in terms of operating efficiency; it also promises to be the first step in a journey that will lead to ongoing innovation within finance and throughout the organization.

For more information about digital transformation, intelligent capture and finance automation, visit the Artsyl Technologies Web site at


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