Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software enables businesses to manage functions and processes in a streamlined way for better productivity. Process implementation in an ERP system depends on the data that is fed to it. This data, mostly transaction information, comes from disparate sources. Consolidating transaction data for use in an ERP system takes a lot of manual work. When dealing with day-to-day operations, there is a lot of data that is generated. For sound functioning of processes in ERPs, it becomes imperative that this growing terabytes of information be properly captured, processed, and made ‘ERP-ready’.
Manual paperwork is time-consuming and expensive. Just take the case of processing an incoming vendor invoice for implementing accounts payable in an ERP system. Entering accurate invoice data into an ERP system is the first step towards implementing accurate accounts payable operations and ensuring accurate and timely payments to the vendor. But there are a number of labor-intensive steps in getting the right data from an invoice.
Firstly, a business may receive invoices from multiple channels like emails, fax, scan, post, etc. An AP clerk will have to sort the incoming documents and then perform data entry work to get all the critical information from each invoice into a company spreadsheet. The clerk then validates the details of each invoice for authenticy. Data validation may involve many different measures depending on business requirements including 2-way or 3-way matching — in order to make sure the particulars of an invoice or receipt that the company is being charged for matches the orders listed in a purchase order form. Other validation measures may include arithmetic checks, vendor details, terms and conditions as agreed between the vendor and buyer, etc. Post data validation, if there are any exceptions during the validation step, the AP clerk will need to direct the invoice to a verification manager for resolution and/or approval. There may be a lot of back-and-forth between different AP personnel to validate and verify an invoice, where a business could anticipate delays because of
These tasks need to be performed systematically and accurately for every invoice that is received by a company, failing which, there could be either payment delays, underpayments, or overpayments to a vendor and mismanagement of AP funds. Not being able to manage payables efficiently can impact a company’s cash reserves negatively and increase debt from operating costs and late payments fees.
Today’s modern ERP systems are adequate to successfully implement highly complex business processes, but the difficulty for many businesses is getting the right data that is necessary to initiate any process in the ERPs. Manual paperwork is just too risky and expensive to enable accurate business implementation by ERP software.
That is why companies need a more sure shot method to ensure accurate data availability to ERPs. What companies need is an automated system for document processing that can feed consistent, reliable, and timely data to an ERP like NetSuite or Acumatica. The document processing software must be capable of accepting and processing any number of diverse document types from a myriad of incoming channels with as little human assistance as possible. Because human effort is more or less error-prone and slow, it becomes necessary that the automation software needed to process complex unstructured, semi-structured, and structured documents is intelligent to emulate human actions to get work done, but without the inefficiencies and costs that come with manual paperwork.
A document processing software with cognitive computing capabilities will help deliver accurate data to ERPs every time. Intelligent document processing does just that. The software makes use of cognitive technologies like AI and machine learning, along with powerful data capture software, robotic process automation, and recognition software like OCR to process complex document types.
Transaction documents, utilized in ERP systems, usually come in unstructured or semi-structured form.
A good intelligent document processing software will come with built-in logic to process documents having standard template formats.
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Say, a company regularly receives invoices from the same 4 vendors. The document formats that the invoices come in are pretty much the same and will not change. It is easy to configure a document processing software to have capture and process automation logic to process the same set of document types over and over again, as the field placements on a document will not change. This is more or less a template-based capture and workflow automation logic that is suitable for standard invoice document formats.
Now, consider an unfamiliarly formatted document from say, a new vendor that is doing business with the company. It becomes difficult to re-configure the software to fit in this new document type. Rather than businesses configure capture and process automation logic for every new document type, which is impractical, what intelligent document processing software does is ‘self-learn’ the new document format and develop a capture and process automation logic to process it. This ‘self-learning’ is based on the software’s cognitive capabilities and is a game-changer in document processing. Businesses can benefit a lot by using intelligent document processing software to accelerate data availability to their ERPs. The benefits are immediate and cumulative.