What happens next to the data collected?
Scan to Archive solutions are easy to implement and operate. There are cost-efficient electronic document and records management systems (EDRMS) that provide powerful ways to store, search, retrieve and share documents as required. The same applies whether the source of the information was originally paper-based or electronic.
But what about when the data isn’t to be archived but needs to kick-off a business transaction?
Bringing paper and electronic data together
Scan or Capture to Process is where the next significant gains can be made. Most organisations have a mix of paper and electronic inbound data and the balance is shifting more towards electronic sources than traditional paper which can mean multiple ways of working to action the daily workload. The good news is that single systems exist to process both data streams in exactly the same way resulting in easier ways of working that take less time and can be automated and integrated to line of business systems.
To take a popular example such as inbound invoices, these commonly arrive as both paper and PDF formats and both need processing in exactly the same way. Storing an image of the invoice may be a useful step along the way but the real focus is on validating the invoice and ensuring it is passed to the backend financial system for payment when appropriate.
Using a capture solution to classify each invoice and extract the required data is the first step. This is followed by validation of the data to ensure, for example, that the invoice is from a recognised supplier, it has all the required information present, such as the Invoice Number and corresponding PO Number and a 2-Way or 3-Way match can be established if there is a Goods Received Note in the system.
All of the information up to this stage can be processed automatically and if all the business rules and conditions are met, the invoice can be passed for payment without any manual intervention. Only when there is an exception, such as a mismatch, does anyone need to become involved.
Clearly these systems can significantly reduce cycle times and costs while optimising process control as well as cash flow management. There are best practice workflows for discrepancy processing, resolution and accounting details as well as integration to back-end financial systems. The same use of business rules can also bring benefits through early payment discounts as well as avoiding late payment penalties and identifying the receipt of duplicate invoices and credits.
Where authorisations are needed and may include multiple signatories, some of whom may not be office-based, then workflow over email and to mobiles can be used to ensure there are no holdups in the process.
The automation and integration of Accounts Payable and other departmental processes means that companies can now allocate their staff to more productive activities, such as customer service or sales processes, instead of manually keying information into backend business systems.
For more information on how this technology can benefit your company, please contact us.