Broken RPA? Process invoices smarter with intelligent document processing

Jan 10, 2022 by Automation Hero

RPA was cutting-edge 20 years ago, but now it’s time for an upgrade. Here’s how IDP can transform invoice processing

Robotic process automation (RPA) is a major time-saving and productivity enhancing tool for organizations of every size. The technology allows users to step away from manual, rules-based business processes and let them be handled by programming scripts. Virtually any task that doesn’t require creativity or complex decision-making can be fully automated. Best of all, RPA can complete workflows in a fraction of the time it takes humans to do it, with less chance of error, and no deviation or burnout.  

Accounts payable departments in particular can benefit from automation. Goldman Sachs estimates that it costs businesses $16 to $22 in labor to process each invoice. When automating these processes, those expenses fall a shocking 60% to 70%, down to as little as $5.89 per invoice. However, even with all the benefits it brings, many AP departments are struggling with their RPA.

Invoice processing automation: the problems with RPA

RPA is limited only to following scripted procedures. It doesn’t have the ability to understand any documents its processing or develop context for any data. As a result, users have to manually build templates for RPA to follow whenever they interact with a document. If any documents that enter a workflow don’t fit that template, the automation will process it incorrectly or even stop working. 

Aside from document templates, scripts must follow a specific set of sequences in order to execute correctly. They can be quite time consuming and expensive to set up, often requiring high-level IT support to implement. Even worse, it can take months of research and testing to get a process to work properly. 

Unfortunately, businesses are changing at a rapid pace, so templates and processes might not be relevant for long. Because of the high upfront costs to implement RPA, workflows may need an update before the user has even seen a return on their investment. To control costs, many AP departments opt for a Band-Aid solution instead of investing in a full overhaul. As this happens more and more over time, RPA can become like an unwieldy Rube Goldberg machine that’s almost as time consuming to manage as invoice processing manually

Automate invoices smarter with intelligent document processing

Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) is a type of automation solution that can capture, extract, and organize data from almost any kind of source, including physically printed text and images, PDFs, emails, submitted forms, and even handwritten notes. This has been an incredible boon for AP departments, and when paired with a properly functioning RPA, it can improve productivity even more. Some of the benefits include:

Greater Labor Efficiency

IDP systems use optical character recognition (OCR) to extract text from documents and then process it into usable data. This makes the capture stage of invoice processing much faster so AP professionals can get through the review process in a fraction of the time of a manual workflow.

Reduced Human Error 

Minimizing human touch points also reduces the risk of human error. It can be easy to misread numbers, make typos, or misunderstand invoices — especially during busy, high-volume seasons for AP departments. IDP removes a lot of the manual labor that goes into processing invoices so users can focus more on critical decisions during review. 

More Cost-Effective Processes

IDP extracts and processes data quicker than humanly possible, without getting tired or needing a break to maintain focus. When you remove tasks that can cause or give opportunity for workers to procrastinate or lose focus, everything goes quicker — including how soon an invoice is paid out. Greater efficiency translates to greater profits, since cost of labor goes down and invoices can be processed on time without incurring late fees. 

Next-gen invoice processing automation with modern AI

Automation Hero is a new kind of automation platform that builds upon the best aspects of IDP and RPA in order to take them to a higher level. Powered by deep learning AI, the platform breaks free of templates and is able to contextualize any kind of data for faster processing. Automation Hero is versatile enough to add on to your existing system and improve its performance, or serve as a completely standalone, end-to-end invoice automation solution to managing all of your invoice processing.

Learn more about how Automation Hero can streamline your accounts payable department in our new eBook covering invoice processing automation.  


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