How context-aware AI adds efficiency & control to invoice processing

Nov 09, 2022 by Kevin Shepherd


When working on process improvement, it is essential to always have your key success metrics in place. But what are these metrics, and what should the focus be?

For example, do you focus on the technology you are implementing? Or should the focus be on the process and how to automate each element? You might also want to consider the people who will see the change you implement into a given process.

Finally, you will want to look at the overall bigger picture and the efficiencies everyone involved will gain from any of the controls you add.

Use case: automate invoice processing 

Of course, all of this will depend on the process you are automating — so let’s imagine an accounts payable team with thousands of invoices to process each month.

Streamline your document processing automation

In terms of efficiency, automation engineers have the following to address in this use case:

  • Faster invoice entry to the ERP with automated data extraction.
  • Immediate account matching and coding.
  • Near-instantaneous approval processes with automated document routing and minimal steps for end-users to follow.

Control the entire workflow automation

On the control side, automation engineers will have to manage where invoices are stored, so that Accounts Payable can see all approval statuses for each invoice at any given time — without introducing human errors into the approver allocation process.

The technology behind this automation will require advanced intelligence that accurately recognizes incoming documents as “invoices” — and we will want the technology involved to also extract critical information of interest as soon as it identifies the documents as such.

Our optical character recognition (OCR) has context-awareness

Automation Hero’s built-in AI intelligence applies custom context-aware OCR technology with native intelligent document processing (IDP) to instantly analyze, classify, extract, and sort documents by type into the appropriate categories.

The data extracted from these invoices could then be automatically entered into the fields for the proper financial software — which greatly speeds up tedious, manual data processes.

But is there more to consider than just these benefits?

Validate invoices with above-human accuracy

Absolutely! Once our automation has extracted the essential information from the invoice, we need it to analyze and validate this data with expert document understanding.

For example, we may want the technology in this automation to intelligently look up account information stored in other places and compare it against historical purchase order data for comparative analysis and quality assurance purposes.

Some IDP vendors like Automation Hero may offer a human-in-the-loop environment that allows users to approve validations and correct errors before they occur.

As a bonus, this will also fine-tune the training of AI algorithms used in the data capture, extraction, and classification stages of your invoice workflow automation.

Workflow integration, seamlessly

Finally, your automation could run through some approval logic that sends the document — or just the essential data extracted — to your current business workflow automation — such as a Robotic Process Automation (RPA), a cloud SaaS service, or another complementary technology for further processing.

From here, intelligent document processing could be integrated with RPA systems as a sub-process to augment your current RPA tasks with AI/cognitive capabilities. Your workflow automation could even send the invoices through different approvers and departments depending on its coding.

Guarantee a layer of security with our attended automation

For this, we could use a human-in-the-loop element again for an extra layer of security and quality assurance. Automation Hero offers a human-in-the-loop skill builder with a no/low-code environment that closes the gap between people and your automation.

The human element in our platform dynamically manages all aspects of the automation — which allows you to implement dedicated approval or audit stages in-between tasks that are based on rules you define. This enables users interacting with your automation to correct errors before they occur. Human-in-the-loop also fine-tunes AI algorithms used in the capture, extraction, and document classifications.

After the data is released to your internal data systems, the information is immediately available to your other departments — freeing up your entire organization to focus on taking quick action and providing efficient service to customers. Imagine making your Invoice Entry and Approval processes 5x more efficient while knowing all of the approval stages for every invoice at every step of the QA process!

Doesn’t that sound nice?

Case study: how human-in-the-loop improved the customer journey 

Now, you could argue that some data-driven processes don’t actually need any human element, interaction, or knowledge — and that intelligent automation is all about the technology and whether it can solve a particular problem or not. However, we recommend considering this argument from an Efficiency and Control strategy point of view.

A client using our Hero Platform_ to replace older, legacy middleware recently reduced their per-record throughput from around 20 minutes to less than 2 seconds!

This huge efficiency boost allowed the client to process more invoices in record time with a return on investment that paid off in dividends. Their record-breaking boost in performance accelerated the data to their Order Management system — which streamlined not only a better document organization process — but the entire customer experience of ordering and doing business with them as well. Customers were happier and employees could finally focus on higher-level business initiatives rather than on tedious, mind-numbing tasks. 

With intelligent document processing in your automation, your organization could begin speeding up its document-driven processes for any type of document without compromising the quality or the security of its services — so everyone wins!

At Automation Hero, we recommend first looking at the bigger picture across your entire organization. Start by planning how you might use Automation Hero’s built-in intelligence to address multiple use cases across your company. Next, take inventory of where your data sits, the skilled workers using it, and the tasks they must complete with the data. Finally, can you add Efficiency and Control to any of these processes?

Just imagine teaching your AI model with the wisdom of your company’s top experts!

Next steps

We offer a few ways for you to get started: