To keep operations running smoothly in SAP Business One and ensure optimal business outcomes, it is important that data is entered into the application correctly and speedily. This is mostly transactional data that needs to be entered from typical source documents like vendor invoices, bills of lading, credit memos, checks, purchase orders, customer sales orders, etc. SAP B1 runs on critical business data — this data could come from the edges of an organization like a remote site office or inventory unit, or from one of the internal departments like human resources.
Data entry to SAP can come from any number of diverse document-dependent processes in different functional areas like sales orders in supply chain, medical claims forms in insurance, check remittances in banking, purchase orders in procurement, bills of lading and customs declaration forms in shipping,
A lot of businesses are still used to the traditional way of capturing transactional data, which is performing manual data entry work to transfer all relevant details from source documents into a company spreadsheet. Creating a master data file like this may prove useful, but is difficult to manage and update on a regular basis. Every time there is a business transaction, the spreadsheets will need to be updated regularly with multiple data entries. Not just that, the spreadsheet data must be checked for accuracy and authenticity.
This means cross-checking, for example, a vendor invoice details with existing vendor database records and performing a 2-way or 3-way match to confirm the validity of the invoice against a matching purchase order and goods receipt.
Data validation is a critical requirement in many document-dependent processes to help companies prevent fraud, maintain a credible audit trail, and engage in good corporate governance practices. But manual data entry and data validation are time-consuming, laborious, and costly. Another thing to note is that once the spreadsheet data has been checked and corrected for accuracy, it must be re-entered into SAP Business One. This kind of double data entry work is again repetitive and time-consuming.
Instead of creating SAP data entry forms and then loading the data in SAP Business One, companies can save a ton on manpower costs and time with intelligent document processing. Intelligent document processing is an automated way to extract, sort out, validate, and transport transaction data from complex source documents like vendor invoices and customers sales orders, with little to no human intervention. In fact, the advanced document classification and data extraction features in the latest intelligent document processing applications ensure a near-autonomous handling of documents, with human intervention needed only in the case of any exceptions.
Automated document processing such as this is possible with intelligent process automation software. The software employs digital transformation technologies like AI, machine learning, robotic process automation, intelligent data capture, and advanced recognition software to convert unstructured and semi-structured documents into usable data. Data is at the core of any business process, but most of this data is trapped in complex unstructured and semi-structured document sources like the aforementioned source documents. Capturing, extracting, validation, and approving this data for use in SAP Business One is inefficient and costly when done manually. This constitutes a majority of the business data that ends up in SAP B1.
Intelligent process automation helps accelerate data availability in SAP Business One by automating the manual, repetitive steps in document processing. Many source documents have a similar format and template. In this case, an intelligent process automation platform uses built-in logic and defined business rules to process these documents.
But what happens when the IPA system encounters a new source document like a new type of vendor invoice, with different field placements? This is where the ‘intelligence’ in an IPA platform becomes useful. The platform’s AI and machine learning capabilities come in handy when processing new document types for which the platform has no built-in logic. Rather, it applies machine learning to ‘self-learn’ the new document and memorize the keystrokes performed by a user to enter the document details the first time. The intelligent process automation platform then applies this learning for the next time it encounters a document with a similar format and template. This is called ‘self-learning’ and it progressively reduces the need for human intervention with every new document type.
In fact, with intelligent automation, manual data entry is only required one time in the case of new documents and maybe to resolve a exception like say, during automatic 2-way matching, if the IPA platform is unable to find a matching purchase order corresponding to an invoice — it could be that the SAP Business One database has not been updated with the new PO details, causing an exception during the automation step. All exceptions are automatically routed to a concerned verification manager for dispute resolution and approval, based on built-in workflow automations teps and business rules. Once this is done, the approved data and documents are automatically posted to SAP B1. You can see that the data re-entry step is completely eliminated here. The benefits of intelligent automation are cumulative: