Integration with SAP/R3 results in end-to-end automation that reduces payment cycle times and improves process transparency and compliance

The Challenge

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is the Canadian government agency responsible for natural resources, including energy, forests, minerals and metals. With so many resources under its purview, NRCan manages hundreds of vendor relationships, processing 90,000 supplier invoices amounting to over $700 million Canadian annually.

Until recently, those invoices were handled manually via the agency’s SAP/R3 accounting system, resulting in accounting staff spending a disproportionate amount of time on manual data entry, filing, tracking down errant invoices and dealing with exceptions—rather than on value-added accounting functions.

Manual invoice processing caused difficulties in managing the budget and controlling cash flow. Invoice processing costs were high, while productivity was low. The risk of penalties for late payments combined with potential deterioration in relations with suppliers and increased compliance risks led NRCan to seek a more efficient, reliable and cost-effective invoice processing solution.

The Solution

NRCan consulted with Connectis, a business process automation consultancy who designed a process workflow for NRCan that would leverage Artsyl’s docAlpha data capture solution to automatically capture, classify and process structured and un-structured paper invoices. Connectis identified docAlpha as the best solution to eliminate manual data entry and streamline the process of getting data into SAP/R3, along with supporting payables documents.

docAlpha digitizes NRCan’s scanned paper payables documents, automatically classifies them, then intelligently extracts data (such as supplier name, date, line item reference, unit price, quantity, amount and HST type) from the document images. By leveraging this data and the workflow rules designed by Connectis, NRCan can automatically match invoices with purchase orders and delivery slips. Once validated, the invoices and supporting documents are released to SAP/R3 for payment allocation, invoice approval, accounting and filing.

The Implementation

Connectis Group provided the technical expertise to engage with NRCan, learning the client’s requirements and translating them into a working docAlpha invoice automation implementation in short time—much faster and more cost-effectively than the alternative solution of customizing SAP/R3. The docAlpha accounts payable workflow is completely automated and compliant with NRCan’s legal and security requirements, reducing risks associated with internal audits and reducing the liabilities associated with manual invoice processing.

The Results

By implementing docAlpha to integrate with SAP/R3, NRCan radically streamlined the document verification process to accurately capture accounting and financial data from scanned paper and digital purchasing documents.

As part of an end-to-end invoice processing solution, docAlpha significantly reduced the time required for invoice processing by automatically handling complex business rules and applying them to invoice matching and approval routing with minimal human intervention and maximum control and visibility.

As a result, RCan reduced invoice cycle times by 75%, enabling AP clerks to process invoices within payment terms and opening the opportunity to negotiate more favorable terms.

Additional benefits included:

  • Rapid implementation of SAP/R3 integration
  • Automated exception handling for incomplete/incorrect invoices
  • Simplified Section 34 verification for managers (electronic signature and routing)
  • 100% liability tracking and process transparency


(Natural Resources Canada)


Government (Federal)


• Vendor invoice automation for 90,000 inbound invoices

• Integration with SAP/R3


• High volume of paper invoices

• Manual data entry with risk of errors

• Large number of invoice exceptions

• Lack of visibility of invoice liability within SAP/R3


Artsyl docAlpha


• 75% improvement in employee productivity

• Reduced errors and exceptions due to data entry 100% liability tracking and process transparency


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