Paperless Accounts Payable - The New Normal

Blog updated on 16th April 2021 by Jon Isherwood

Covid-19 and the lockdowns we've all endured are credited with creating change. But is that right? Most of our customers were investing in process improvement before the lockdowns started. If anything has changed at all it is the rate of change and the appetite for change, not the need for it. We are shopping online more, and in our experience companies have accelerated plans for investing in process improvement.

One area where the rate of change has been particularly pronounced is in Accounts Payable. After all, how can you efficiently process paper invoices when the team is working from home?

For many years, Optical Character Recognition (“OCR") technology was the only option for companies looking to streamline the processing of supplier invoices. But OCR has never quite delivered the results it promised.

We are told, for instance, that OCR software can provide 98 to 99% accuracy!

Sounds good, doesn't it?

Mmmmm. Maybe.

On closer examination we learn that OCR claims 98 to 99% accuracy when measured at the page level. This means that in a page of 1,000 characters, 980 to 990 characters will be accurate. 10 to 20 of them will be inaccurate.

If you need 99% accuracy at a data field level, then relying on 99% page-level accuracy could be disastrous. What if the remaining 1%, the erroneous characters, fall within data fields required by your organisation? Under those circumstances, matching rates could fall as low as 50% 1

Accounts Payable without OCR

Fortunately, there is a solution to the OCR problem. You don't need OCR. You need Advanced Data Automation from LAKE.

The PDF invoices your suppliers are sending you today have all the information you need to automate invoice processing. With true electronic invoice processing, the invoice data held within the PDF is read directly. There is no need for costly system changes or scanning technology. You get EDI quality data without the barriers typically associated with EDI. The only thing your suppliers have to do is send their invoices to a new email address, which will pass them to the automated process for data extraction. The net result is that you get more suppliers onto electronic invoicing in a shorter time frame than any other e-invoicing method. The added bonus is that this process is 100% accurate when extracting data from documents such as PDFs!

Whether your staff move back into the office or they remain working remotely for some or all of the time, a fully automated invoice processing system that does away with paper, gives 100% accuracy, is really easy to implement and results in happy suppliers (the only thing they need to do is email PDF invoices and most of them will be doing that already) seems a “no brainer" doesn't it?

To find out more, visit the Advanced Data Automation page on the LAKE website or contact your Account Manager for details.


Jon Isherwood

by Jon Isherwood

Blog contributor.

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