Manual processing of supplier invoices can consume a lot of time and effort. Invoices arrive in the enterprise in different formats, are manually captured, checked and sent for payment authorisation. Valuable time is lost because invoices pass through several departments. In turn, discounts for early payments may be missed and some invoices may incur late payment penalties.
Adopting an invoice processing service can add a great deal of value to most enterprises. Tedious administration tasks become superfluous and forwarding paper from one department to the next is eliminated.
Our solution streamlines invoice processing
Using our Invoice Processing Service adds value to your organisation by dramatically reducing both the number of administrative steps and the time it takes to process supplier invoices. The entire invoice payment procedure becomes easier and faster. Our software combines scanned data with data received by e-mail into one workflow; reads the invoice; recognises suppliers; and creates a link to the purchase order automatically – from capture to payment.All paper invoices are initially captured using a document scanner at 300dpi. This higher resolution maximises invoice recognition rates.
The way invoices are structured differs from supplier to supplier. Our systems are able to accommodate different layouts, so that supplier invoices and credit notes can be read. When comparing service providers it is important to appreciate that we employ dedicated invoice recognition software rather than simple OCR software or an ICR “add on”. Invoice Processing is a specialist document management activity requiring specialist software and experienced operators supported by a professional services team.
Using this specialist software, we achieve faster implementation, higher first pass accuracy, lower reject rates and less manual correction. The advantage of applying dedicated Invoice processing software means we reduce the level of exception handling to a minimum so that we start to save you money more quickly and continue to save you money compared to others using less sophisticated software. Unlike other OCR solutions and template-based systems, our software does not have to be “trained” to recognise where each item of information is for each separate supplier.
Using our services mean our customers don’t need to define these fields and link them with the supplier master data – a procedure which some other systems require before they even read the first invoice. This can be a very time-consuming and expensive exercise when handling several hundred or even thousands of suppliers.
Step by step: how the invoice processing service works
Incoming invoices are scanned, and then our software begins processing with the first step – recognising the supplier.
(1) Supplier recognition
Our software looks for information on a document in a similar manner to a human. The software compares the information on the document with data on the supplier master file from the ERP system. The software looks for typical features on the document such as VAT registration number, company name, address, telephone and fax number and bank details and compares the information found with the master data. This comparison is performed by an error-tolerant “fuzzy server”. The “fuzzy server” provides a result even if there is an incomplete match, i.e. different spellings or out-of-date information on the supplier master file.
(2) Reading the data
The next step is to extract the relevant information from the invoice. This will typically include purchase order number, invoice number, date, total and net amount. Initially the system uses a rule-set to extract the data from the invoice. If the system already “knows” the appearance and setup of invoices from a specific supplier; it extracts data using knowledge stored in its Knowledge Base. The Knowledge Base becomes more robust with increasing number of supplier invoices from the same supplier, statistically determining the most likely coordinates from each data field. The rule-set enables it to read previously unknown invoices immediately. It locates the required information using the structures and appearances of values, keywords and calculation rules. We recognise different spellings of key words and rules for calculating amounts (Net + Value Added Tax = Gross). This means that invoices from a new supplier can be read immediately.
(3) Extending the Knowledge Base
Our software systems reliably extract information from unknown invoice layouts. Where a required field is not located the invoice is forwarded to an exceptions queue for manual processing. The learning function built into the software analyses what the data sent to the exception queue together with the resulting corrective action and adds this information to its Knowledge Base.
As a result our systems automatically “learn” from previous experience” and can apply this knowledge to the next transaction. When the rule-set has read a value correctly it is not changed in post processing. In addition, the software learns the positioning and appearance of this supplier’s values. If a value is changed during the exception handling process the software searches the document for this changed value. It then stores the correct field position and format information.
Reading invoices with and without order reference
It’s not enough just to read invoices. Different types of invoices – with and without order reference, with and without incoming goods – need different kinds of processing. In many enterprises most invoices refer to orders stored in the ERP system. Data now no longer has to be manually captured and entered. Our systems can compare invoices with order and incoming goods information (where available), automating the actual invoice verification processes.
For SAP users we provide integration into the SAP system – a highly automated, economical solution. We export invoice information that has been read into SAP and automatically starts the appropriate process in SAP. Furthermore, we use supplier master data from SAP to recognise suppliers. If an incoming invoice has an order reference, this information is compared with order and incoming goods information.
The system can be easily installed and quickly incorporated into production in SAP environments too.
Speeds up processes, reduces costs
Using our Invoice Processing solutions will save you time and money.
The Caravan Club improve invoice processing automation levels.
The Caravan Club have been established for more than a century and offer services and support to their members within the camping community – having close to 200 active sites within the UK.
Within their payables department, the Caravan Club did have issues with payments to suppliers. Increased document automation levels and invoice visibility were essential when processing at both the head office, in East Grinstead, and also at site level – which are managed by wardens. Document Options proposed a solution using outsourced document scanning in conjunction with specialist SAP certified software integrated with the Caravan Club SAP system.
Document Options scans the invoices, manages exceptions and provides the data-file with the invoice content.
Liz Parish, Head of Accounts Payable added ‘We have already seen a marked increase in automatic booking rates and the reporting functions ensure we have visibility of outstanding invoices – so we can avoid late payments. The initial reception of the new system within the business has been excellent’.
Burridge House Priestley Way Crawley West Sussex RH10 9NT
Tel: + 44 (0) 1293 426677
Fax: + 44 (0) 1293 403453
Tell us about you and your area/s of interest and we will send you a personalised information pack. Alternatively call for an informal conversation or advice.