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2016 Data Capture and Mailrooms Technology Insight Report

Strategies and Solutions for Eliminating the Paper Problem in Invoice Receipt Management

April 2, 2016      

Introduction

Accounts Payable departments often face multiple sources of inefficient processes and high costs, but the prevailing problem among most organizations is a heavy reliance on paper. PayStream has found that while the leading cause of AP pains is heavy paper volume, the majority of organizations still use manual, paper-based processing for most of their B2B activity.
Some organizations have attempted to improve processes by implementing simple, bolt-on AP solutions to stem the flow of paper, such as an eInvoicing network or an approval workflow system. However, eInvoices make up a very small percentage of supplier invoices for most organizations, and workflow systems are only as efficient as the accuracy of the invoice data. As the majority of organizations manually key in data from thousands of paper invoices each year, the process involves a lot of time, touches, and verification, leaving room for human error.
Achieving AP efficiency must begin with the automation of the beginning of the AP process: the receipt of paper invoices. This goes beyond simply training AP clerks to enter invoice data more quickly and accurately, and it does not mean that organizations should attempt to force their suppliers to send only electronic invoices. Instead, innovative organizations rely on the flexibility, speed, and transformative power of data capture technology. By implementing a data capture solution for invoice receipt processes, organizations can receive and manage all paper documents in the most timely, accurate, and affordable way possible. Setting up these data capture solutions and/or implementing mailroom services for financial documents saves a great deal of money and time, and helps successfully prepare organizations for the next step in strategic financial automation.
This report explores the value of data capture software for streamlining invoice receipt. It profiles today’s leading solutions, as well as the leading ways that companies can leverage the technology. This report also provides organizations with suggestions for properly identifying which solution provider and document-processing scenario is right for them.

Trends in Invoice Receipt Management

Paper invoices and manual processes lead to many challenges. Today’s organizations’ leading concerns revolve around invoice volume, tax and legal compliance, and security of invoice data.

» Invoice volume: Efficient manual AP processing is prevented by high invoice volume, which can be almost impossible to manage and difficult to reduce once a department is backlogged. No matter how skilled or productive an AP team is, manual methods cannot guarantee careful and accurate processing while confronted with factors like seasonal fluctuations, frequent invoice errors, and special invoices, such as those from international vendors. In addition, many AP teams must also handle suppliers’ payment inquiries and disputes, which can cause setbacks in the department’s invoice processing speed.

» Tax and legal compliance: Without a controlled invoice receipt system in place, AP teams must keep up with an enormous amount of information as they process invoices, and must maintain knowledge of the tax and business requirements for a variety of invoice types. This grows even more difficult with high invoice volumes, and without a system to monitor invoice data and regulate processing, invoices can be sent, routed, and input into the ERP erroneously, possibly creating legal trouble in the future.

» Security: Manually entering, processing, and storing information leaves invoice data open to security infiltration, as does having a high volume of paper invoices in one department in general. Paper invoices also tend to sit on AP clerks’ desks for long periods of time while being processed, where they are open anyone’s eyes. In addition, when invoice data sits in AP clerks’ unprotected personal desktop programs, cybercriminals have a relatively easy job of hacking and extracting valuable files.

In order to explore the causes and effects of these invoice receipt challenges among North American organizations, PayStream surveyed over 150 individuals in companies of many different industries and sizes. In the survey, P2P professionals were asked to allocate by percentage the amount of invoices they received in various formats, see Figure 1. The results show that paper was the most received format among organizations, followed by email.

Figure 1: Most Organizations Receive the Majority of their Invoices in Paper Format
“How much of each invoice format does your organization receive?”

 

Data Capture 1

Research also shows that the majority of organizations manually enter invoice data into their ERP system, see Figure 2. PayStream has found that manual procedures lead to much higher processing costs in terms of both time and labor, and it also causes data accuracy and security risks.

Figure 2 “How is invoice information entered into your ERP, accounting software, or accounts payable software?”

Data Capture 2

Typically, organizations with high levels of paper that use manual processes also experience much higher invoice processing times. Survey results show that the majority of organizations process invoices in 5-10 days, while another fifth spend 10-20 days on each invoice, see Figure 3. This represents the time spent after the invoice was officially received and opened, and does not take into account the mail time or the time lost if the invoice was misplaced upon receipt.

Figure 3: Most Organizations Approve Invoices In 5-10 Days
“On average, how long does it take your organization to approve an invoice from the time it is received?”

Data Capture 3

Another strategy that impacts the risks on security and data accuracy in invoice management relates to how documents are retained after they are received. Most organizations keep their invoices filed in hard copy after they have entered the data into the ERP, see Figure 4.

Figure 4: Most Organizations Store Hard Copies of Invoices
“How does your organization retain invoice documents?”

Data Capture 4

This method is not only unsecure, it is also time-consuming for search and retrieval, invoice data checks and updates, and for auditing purposes. The likelihood that invoices will be lost or misplaced are much higher, and which can have unfortunate consequences in the event of an audit or a payment error.

The level of automation an organization uses has a great impact on the efficiency of their processes. For example, organizations that rely the most on manual data entry report the slowest average approval times, while organizations that are using an in-house solution or a third-party mailroom services provider experience much faster approvals, see Figure 5.

Figure 5: Manual Data Entry Correlates with the Longest Invoice Approval Times
“How is invoice information entered into your ERP, accounting software, or accounts payable software?”

Data Capture 5

In many cases, an organization’s industry and the industry’s typical business structure affect the state of its invoice management process and the types of invoices it most often receives. For example, the majority of organizations surveyed in Figures 6-10 do not process their invoices with a data capture software or 3rd-party mailroom service. However, organizations in the manufacturing industry approve their invoices much faster than those in higher education—13 days versus 23 days. PayStream attributes this to manufacturing’s tendency to work with many more suppliers than an average company; manufacturers’ vendor master lists may be much larger than in other industries, and it is most likely in their best interest to email suppliers in order to save on paper costs. Higher education on the other hand receives a high percentage of paper invoices, and a higher than normal amount of invoices through fax. This industry has historically been more much slower to adopt advanced technology in the back office, partly because of their tendency to use local suppliers (who also use high amounts of paper) more often than other large institutions. They are also constrained by their tight cost structures due to billing schedules and if they are public, not-for-profit institutions.

Figures 6-10: Invoice Receipt Type By Industry
“How much of each invoice format does your organization receive?”

Figure 6_10 DataCapture

 

Sometimes invoice receipt automation can benefit some organizations more than others. For example, industries in business and professional services receive more email and less paper invoices than organizations in healthcare, but experience longer approval times. This is because healthcare also receives a large percentage of EDI/XML invoices, which can greatly offset paper-based invoices. The healthcare industry has been one of the earliest adopters of financial processing automation, largely due to the pressure they are under to comply with government and health regulations. For companies in business and professional services, many of their invoices are tied to project- or client-related expenses, creating a more diverse atmosphere and one that is less dependent on compliance beyond tax regulations.
For any industry, the best way to eliminate the pains of manual processing is to take advantage of a front-end data capture solution. The following section outlines the functionality and features of advanced data capture software.

Data Capture Technology Functionality

Data capture software is a tool that receives invoices from scanners, or electronic formats like email or EDI, and automatically extracts the content using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. The content is placed in a verification and validation system for review, after which it is sent to an approval workflow system for final approval, processing, and payment. By using a data capture solution, AP professionals go from manually keying data from the invoices into the system to simply verifying the accuracy of the data that is captured automatically.
A major advantage of this automated process is that the OCR technology captures content with a high degree of accuracy, making manual corrections a rare event. In addition, some data capture providers offer different guaranteed data capture accuracy levels depending on the service level agreement (SLA). For example, if a small or mid-level business wants to use a front-end imaging solution to relieve some of the data entry burden on their AP clerks, but cannot afford the top-tier products, they can pay for a less advanced version of a provider’s offerings. It may only capture certain fields of the invoice, such as the header, while leaving other fields, like line items, out. This would reduce the price of the solution, while still giving the company considerably more automation and control.
After invoices are verified, they are matched against a PO or a contract or routed to the original requester for validation. When the invoice has been cleared for accuracy, it is sent to an invoice approval workflow system for final processing and payment. Some providers package their own workflow systems in their product offerings or offer one through a partner, but all leading data capture solutions are able to integrate with clients’ existing systems.
One of the main benefits of implementing data capture technology is the substantial level of control it gives to the front end of the process. Because invoices are scanned into the system immediately, they are not getting lost in the shuffle. Another benefit of the increased control is stronger accuracy, security, and compliance. Invoices are input into the system faster and more securely, and employees can keep much better track of important and sensitive information. Some providers also offer record retention services, which are useful for auditing purposes as well as any inquiry made by an internal or external party in the future. Some providers store documents in the cloud, while other large-scale mailroom service providers also offer physical storage for paper invoices. When documents are stored online, the software allows for simple search and retrieval by keyword. Organizations can also store associated tax or legal documents with invoices, further aiding in compliance and security.
In all, today’s leading front-end data capture solutions are adaptable to almost any environment, business structure, or business requirement. They are simple and quick to implement, easy to learn, and moderately priced. Organizations can purchase high-quality services with advanced capture and customization features, or they can choose a simpler version that is effective for smaller businesses and budgets. They can purchase a cloud-based solution that enables data capture centralization for many different departments, or they can buy a few hosted modules that are installed on AP clerks’ desktops. However the company wishes to implement the software, solution providers offer flexible pricing agreements and can configure the solution to fit with any special document types and routing structures. In addition, these solutions integrate with any existing system, making the transition from paper-burdened to paperless invoice processing streamlined and painless.

Diverse Applications of Data Capture Technology

While the only true solution to the problems of manual-based invoice processing is eliminating paper, there are a few different ways that companies can go about this. The method they choose greatly depends on their size, industry, and business structure. For example, Figure 11 shows that while in-house data capture software use is highest among the mid-market, large corporations are more likely to outsource invoice receipt to a third-party document management provider.

Figure 11: In-House Data Capture Software is Used Primarily in the Mid Market
“How is invoice information entered into your ERP, accounting software, or accounts payable software?” & “What is your organization’s annual revenue in the most recent 12-month reporting period?”

Data Capture 11

This trend is due in large part to the business structure in large organizations—centralization is often easier to outsource than manage internally for these companies. Mid-sized organizations with smaller AP departments can implement in-house data capture solutions much more easily, and there are many options within their budget on the market today. It also important to note that manual data entry rises slightly as revenue grows, partly because larger organizations are slower to move on automation initiatives. Therefore, if a $5 billion organization doesn’t outsource invoice receipt, it is more likely to conduct manual data entry than use in-house data capture software. However, PayStream predicts that automation will continue to grow among larger organizations in the years to come. At the end of the day, each of the following methods’ main goal is to streamline the intake of invoices and input all invoice data into the system in a timely, secure, and accurate manner.

Method 1: Implement a Front-End Imaging System in the AP Department

This method usually works for smaller or mid-market businesses with too many invoices and too few employees, as well as a budget and infrastructure that cannot support a full mailroom invoice receipt operation. There are several advanced front-end imaging systems on the market that are specifically tailored for small AP departments, in which invoices are scanned, uploaded into the data-capture and validation system, and routed for approval. This allows AP clerks that have been spending countless hours manually entering data, matching documents, checking for errors, and chasing down approvers to simply upload the document, verify that the OCR-scanned data is correct, and submit it for validation and approval workflow. This often cuts the processing time by more than 50 percent, transforming it from an action-based task to a simple review-based task. This method also allows AP professionals to spend more time on value-added activities and less time on tedious error correction.

Method 2: Implement an Existing or New Internal Mailroom Service

This method is more suitable for upper mid-market and large organizations, many of which already have a mailroom. Organizations can purchase a front-end imaging system that will integrate with existing scanners in the mailroom. Mailroom employees simply separate invoices they receive in the mail and upload them into the invoice receipt management system for automatic data capture and routing. The software is often very simple to learn, requiring little training for employees. It reduces delayed and lost invoices, and cuts back on the chance of duplicate invoices.
It is important to note that many of today’s data capture and invoice management solutions are also well-equipped to handle other business documents, including those for legal and HR, as well as for contracts and medical documents. The use of the solution in this way is especially suitable for organizations that strongly rely on an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system or a shared services center.

Method 3: Outsource Invoice Receipt to a Third-Party Document Management Service

This method is used by organizations that either do not have a mailroom service already, or those who wish to eliminate their internal mailrooms. Their reasons for this choice may vary, but they do not always depend on cost. In many cases, the services of a third-party document processing service will cost roughly the same as maintaining the process in-house. However, when it comes to the time and responsibility required for maintaining internal invoice receipt, the benefits of shifting the burdens can be great.

Organizations no longer have to manage mailroom employees, and they can rely on their service level agreement with the provider to maintain output and productivity. Mail is sent to a centralized location and processed with leading advanced data capture technology. These providers often use the same accuracy level guarantees as a plug-in data capture tool, and in some cases, human intervention through double-blind keying to ensure greater accuracy. When asked what main benefits were achieved from using a third-party provider, most survey respondents cited improvements in processing times, control, and on- time payments, as well as more efficient spend in internal departments, see Figure 12.

Figure 12: Mailroom Services Bring the Benefits of Quicker Approval
What benefits has your organization seen since utilizing a third-party provider to open mail and scan paper invoices?”

Data Capture 12

Whether an organization decides to use data capture in an internal or external mailroom or to use a series of front-end imaging tools in their AP departments largely depends on the size and business structure of the company. The following section illustrates a few steps organizations can take to evaluate their potential strategies.

Change Management Strategies

In order to enable organizations to successfully select and implement a paperless invoice process in their AP department and beyond, the following steps are recommended for companies to manage change before and during the transition:

1. Outline the most suitable invoice management process. This entails examining the current internal invoice processing structure. Organizations should take into account the number of ERPs they are using, the number of invoices they receive on a monthly basis, the type and complexity of invoices they receive, the number and type of locations to which these invoices are sent, and the current amount of touches (or people involved) these invoices require to process. The organization must apply these metrics to several different scenarios to measure their potential success.
For example, a large organization that processes thousands of invoices a month in many different locations may not benefit from implementing internal mailrooms in each location. It will likely be better served by centralizing all invoice receipt processes in one location for mailroom processing. The main question this organization must answer is whether the implementation of an internal mailroom operation is more or less cost-effective than outsourcing all invoice management to a third-party document management provider.
If the organization is smaller and its plan involves using front-end imaging systems in each AP department, it is important to evaluate the cost and labor benefits or drawbacks of having the staff process their own invoices. It also important to make sure that the software will be accessible to the end users, that is intuitive and easy to learn, and that the provider offers training where necessary.
It is important to recognize that size alone cannot always determine an organization’s best plan for invoice receipt management. There are some circumstances for which it does not make sense for large organizations to centralize their invoice receipt. For example, a multi-billion dollar company could have a business model that requires the operations of hundreds of small field offices, each only receiving between 10 and 20 invoices per month. Centralizing invoice receipt would mean that while all invoices are received and scanned at one location, these must divided and dispersed in numerous small batches to hundreds of different places for further processing. This process entails an excessive amount of routing and coordination for so many invoices, and would likely only add to the organization’s invoice management problems. In this case, another option may be more feasible, such as implementing inexpensive front-end capture solutions in each of the field offices.

Whatever the result of the cost and structural analysis, make sure that this plan will be consistently maintained throughout the organization. This means establishing controls that prevent employees from bypassing certain protocols for a special invoice. For example, if a company receives a large number of invoices that must be processed and paid more quickly than the typical supplier invoice, it should ensure that a method is implemented to support this process flow and that employees will not be tempted to bypass the rules. In this case, it may benefit the company to implement an inexpensive front-end imaging solution for quick processing of certain invoices, while shifting the majority of the regular invoice volume to an internal or external mailroom processing center.
In another example, a company may have seasonal influxes of invoices. The organization should ensure that the paperless invoice strategy can support the increase in demand. Many times, it is not efficient or realistic to expect internal mailrooms to be able to support the increase of work with the same productivity; in this case, employing a third-party provider will bring the advantages of a variable labor model. Many providers have enough staff to handle increases in volume; by contrast, in an internal mailroom it is costly to temporarily hire labor to handle short-term increases in volume. In addition, many contracts involve a SLA that will ensure that the provider meets their deadlines and process commitments, no matter the volume.

2. Take a flexible and firm approach to supplier onboarding. It is rarely viable for an organization to decide to get rid of paper invoices and immediately demand their suppliers comply by sending only EDI or email-based invoices. This is especially difficult for small companies with limited leverage over their larger suppliers, or for any company that procures a diverse range of goods, such as an automotive parts reseller that works frequently with towing companies. In many cases, suppliers will not comply because they do not depend on the buying organization’s business, or because the method does not align with their business structure or culture.

It is important that organization properly evaluates its supplier base before finalizing a new paperless invoice process so as to not lose any suppliers. For example, an organization may receive the majority of its invoices through the mail, and only a small percentage through email and/or EDI. The most realistic option would be to give the suppliers a new mail-to address, which would send the invoices to an internal or external centralized mailroom. The organization can migrate those suppliers to email or electronic invoices over time. In another scenario, the company could have progressive suppliers that primarily send invoices through email. Those invoices could simply be routed to a new email which connects them to a data capture system. The remaining paper invoices can be sent to a small mailroom location, or to a few AP departments using inexpensive data capture tools.
There will still be some challenges in this migration process, stemming both from general stubbornness and when suppliers are unclear of new policies. For example, if a supplier is directed to send invoices to a new P.O. box, it may also send unrelated mail to that same address, such as a notification of an organizational change it feels is relevant to the buyer. In this case, the notification will likely get lost in the shuffle, so suppliers must be directed to send this type of mail to a different place. Outsourced providers often help with driving discipline in the supplier community, such as with an automatic rejection policy for invoices that are not completed properly.
PayStream’s benchmarking research has found that most suppliers soon realize the benefits of faster payments that come from correct and compliant invoices, and they will adjust their methods accordingly. When companies are flexible, encouraging, and consistent with their new policies, supplier compliance consistently increases, and each year brings organizations closer to a paperless, streamlined invoice process.
Full AP efficiency is never complete until an organization has proactively and consistently worked to get rid of the paper problem in its back- office processes. It can sometimes take years to completely get rid of manual, paper-based methods, but the end result is many more years of cost-efficient and productive financial service departments. The following profiles illustrate the offerings of some of the leading data capture software providers on the market today.

ABBYY

ABBYY provides small and mid-sized companies with advanced software for OCR, data capture, and document processing. ABBYY’s first product for form capture was released over 20 years ago. Since then, ABBYY has improved its data capture offering, extending its capabilities to support semi-structured documents, as well as creating solutions for
particular industries and business processes.

Founded

1989

Headquarters

Milpitas, CA

Other Locations

Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Japan, Australia

Number of Employees

1,250+

Number of Customers

7,500+

Target Verticals

All

Partners / Resellers

Xerox, Scantron, Scanstore,

Keymark

Awards / Recognitions

Named among “20 Most Promising Document Management Solution Providers

2015” by CIOReview; one of “100 Companies That Matter in Knowledge Management” by KM World in 2014.

Solution Overview and Services Model

ABBYY’s invoice capture solution, ABBYY FlexiCapture for Invoices, is system-agnostic. It delivers data and documents to ERP and AP solutions through tight (via API) or loose (via file exchange) integration. It also integrates with the ERP system’s database to perform validation of vendors, purchase orders, and other invoice details. The solution supports invoices for North American, European, and Australian markets, and ABBYY is currently working on extending the solution to support Asian invoices.
ABBYY offers the data capture solution either as a standalone tool or through a distributed client-server package. Companies with smaller AP departments can install the standalone solution on their employees’ desktops. The distributed configuration consists of servers that can be accessed via a web browser, allowing a larger organization to leverage the solution across many locations.
The ABBYY solution connects with a variety of invoice entry points, including scanners and multi-functional devices, email inboxes, and fax machines. Through these connections, the solution automatically imports the invoices for classification and data capture, and prepares them for verification.
The set of fields captured from invoices is configurable, allowing the customer to add extra fields to the default template, such as project numbers or tax details. The solution automatically validates certain invoice data, such as business unit and vendor, against the client’s ERP database. If a PO database is available, the solution will automatically match line items in the invoice to the PO; if the customer does not use a PO system, the solution will allow them to conduct GL coding from the verification interface.
FlexiCapture is designed to recognize data regardless of format, enabling it to adapt to different invoice structures from different suppliers. ABBYY offers different data capture accuracy levels depending on the fields and the solution’s ability to match the
data against existing client systems. Users can train the solution to memorize special items that it does not initially recognize, and the solution will then adapt to these items in the future.
The software offers a capture workflow that allows the client to customize the document flow, adjusting steps for exceptions, scanning, rescanning, recognition, and double or triple verification. After invoices are verified, they are automatically exported to the financial system for payment, or to a configurable workflow system if they require approval. ABBYY offers invoice approval workflow solutions through a variety of partners, or it can integrate with the client’s existing workflow solution.
FlexiCapture is built on a universal software platform and can process any document. This allows ABBYY’s clients to use the same data capture and verification processes for POs, memos, HR documents, and many other document types. This also makes the solution suitable for use in internal mailrooms, as the software can automatically
identify different document types, and will extract the data and apply document flows according to specific rules.

Implementation and Pricing

ABBYY’s implementation typically takes between two weeks and one month. Implementation is usually conducted by an ABBYY-certified partner that provides both end-user and developer training on an as- needed basis. The certified partner will also provide support services as needed, which includes consulting services, issue resolution, patches and maintenance releases with bug fixes, as well as software upgrades. ABBYY primarily licenses the software with an annual fee model.

Top Image Systems

Top Image Systems (TIS™), a global provider of content processing solutions, was founded in 1991. TIS solutions have been used by large enterprises in more than 40 countries, and an integrated network of distributors, system integrators, and value-added partners support
the company’s offerings. TIS’ flagship AP processing solution, eFLOW AP, captures, classifies, approves, and validates every kind of invoice from any format. The solution is provided within a flexible system that enables integration with a variety of financial systems, and it also offers bi-directional integration with SAP ERP and its P2P applications, as well as with other leading ERPs. The company also supports multinational companies’ corporate, tax, and regulatory compliance needs, and offers an integrated mobile invoice capture platform for approval and reporting.

Founded

1991

Headquarters

Ramat Gan, Israel

Other Locations

Plano, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Cologne, Germany; London, UK

Number of Employees

Approx. 250

Number of Customers

Approx. 1000 installations

Target Verticals

Banking/Finance; Insurance;

Government; Healthcare; Power

& Utilities; Transport & Logistics;

Retail & Manufacturing; Postal;

Business Process Outsourcing/

Shared Service Centers

Partners / Resellers

Xerox, TCS, Canon, Fujitsu, and

more

Awards / Recognitions

Pentadoc/RADAR ECM Award (2011-2014); Mobile Innovations Award 2014; Fintech Innovation award finalist; IT Innovationspreis winners 2014-2015

Solution Overview and Services Model

TIS’ solutions are built on Microsoft infrastructure, architecture, and technologies, and its offerings are compliant with Microsoft security measures. The solution offers integration with any bookkeeping and financial workflow system, including Sage, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle, and JD Edwards, as well as with various other financial and purchasing systems. TIS has also partnered with SAP to offer SAP customers a bi-directional integrated solution fully compliant with SAP standards, allowing TIS to accelerate complex SAP Financials Accounting and Materials Management and purchase order and invoice management processes with invoice capture. Customers can choose to use TIS’ solutions on-premise or in the cloud through a variety of hybrid configurations.
TIS’ suite of AP automation solutions allows users to capture and process invoices from within SAP or other ERP environment, and maximize straight-through invoice processing. It also incorporates web- based capture and validation functionality for maximum flexibility, and offers ease of deployment and use.
TIS provides document storage through the eFLOW Cloud Docs solution, which includes record retention and archival services with extremely high data security and compliance measures. TIS also enables customers to capture invoice data and run approval workflows from their mobile device with mobiFLOW, TIS’ proprietary mobile image processing platform, and SDK, which is fully integrated with eFLOW.
TIS’ eFLOW Digital Mailroom (DMR) solution can collect any volume of multi-channel inbound mail from any source, including fax, scanners, and mobile devices. The solution supports both printed and handwritten documents, as well as documents sent via email, XML, EDI, and other electronic formats. eFLOW DMR supports any document type, including structured forms, semi-structured documents such as invoices, purchase orders, and sales documents, and unstructured free text documents such as contracts and customer service correspondence. DMR also supports document management for many of its clients’ other business processes and departments, including insurance claims and forms, medical and healthcare documents, bills of lading, manufacturing and inventory documents, census forms, bank applications, and mortgage forms.
TIS’ intelligent capture software collects document images, processes the images to improve image quality as required, and recognizes the data in the images using OCR, IDR, and OMR technologies. eFLOW uses multiple OCR engines and a variety of sophisticated algorithms to ensure the highest level of recognition accuracy. eFLOW DMR then classifies invoices by identifying dates, supplier ID, line items, and other data, matches invoices to POs and delivery notes when applicable, and sends invoices on to approval workflows.

In order to meet clients’ desired data capture accuracy levels, TIS offers different performance measurement software that can be tied to predetermined service level objectives. eFLOW’s CONTROL module alerts operators and supervisors of performance SLAs during operations, while its SUPERVISE module can be used to configure different SLAs and to measure, compare, and analyze process results. In addition, the Reports and Dashboard module graphically displays performance in various preconfigured reports and dashboards.
eFLOW AP enables high rates of straight-through-processing on invoices, requiring little manual intervention. For those documents that require correction or validation, the solution includes an easy-to-use, intuitive cockpit that features drop-down menus, libraries, fuzzy-search engines, and other tools to let operators validate and/or correct the invoice.

Implementation and Pricing

The typical length of the TIS eFLOW AP implementation is approximately 6 months, depending on the complexity of the customer requirements. TIS assigns a Project Manager to the implementation project, who is responsible for providing regular updates to the customer throughout the project lifecycle. TIS also conducts training for super-users, administrators, and developers, as well as ongoing support through a global support team. Further online support is offered through the TIS Customer Support Portal. TIS offers flexible pricing and deployment options, allowing customers to pay through site licenses, a monthly SaaS fee, or a pay-per-page or per-click structure among other options.

Case Study: Top Image Systems

“By deploying eFLOW to automate our Accounts Payable processes, we have reduced operational costs and invoice processing time.” Kevin Ingham, Head of AP, Shared Services Facility

Challenge

Atkins is one of the world’s most respected design, engineering, and project management consultancies. Established in 1938, the com- pany reports over £1.75 billion in revenues and has over 18,600 employees worldwide. Atkins specializes in physical and technological infrastructure for transportation, information communications, secu- rity systems, and utilities. The company works with a broad range of clients, including national and local government institutions as well as companies in the commercial sector.

Approach

Atkins processes 120,000 invoices each year. Five years ago, the company decided to address a number of challenges it faced in their invoice processing by installing an automated invoice capture and workflow solution that would reduce invoice data issues and speed

up invoice approval times. The company first implemented Top Image System’s eFLOW solution in 2010, using it to capture paper and elec- tronic invoices digitally and to simplify the display of invoice informa- tion for verification, validation, and approval. In 2014, Atkins upgraded to eFLOW5, enabling them to optimally process PDF files and simplify form completion, as well as making the entire system faster and more supportive.

Results

Atkins saved significant costs on the processing of invoices even before TIS had complet- ed the implementation, and rapidly sped up their invoice queues. The solution decreased invoice duplicates, processing times, and invoice errors. From the start of the installation, Atkins increased the productivity of its AP staff substantially. Atkins estimates that it achieved a return on the investment in the TIS solution within 18 months of purchase.


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