How intelligent document processing is transforming accounts payable

Jan 10, 2022 by Automation Hero

Manual AP processes are some of the most time consuming in the bookkeeping industry. Here’s how IDP streamlines operations.

When we think of automation, we often picture robots in factories, or self-checkout stations at the grocery store. Where we don’t envision the technology is in accounts payable departments, even though they are among the biggest benefactors of a movement toward more efficient workflows. 

According to the Institute of Financial Management, 77% of surveyed accounts payable departments have already invested in some form of invoice processing automation software, as well as other workflow automation solutions. This has led to untold improvements in productivity, worker engagement, and even profitability. 

But traditional automation capabilities, like those offered by robotic process automation (RPA), still require time-consuming manual tasks, especially when it comes to processing information. What if there was a way to close the gap for more end-to-end automation? 

Leveling up automation with intelligent document processing

Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) is a category of automation solutions that can capture, extract, and organize data from a wide variety of sources, including printed text and images, digital documents like PDFs, and even human handwriting. Software like Automation Hero can do this, plus input it into a  workflow for complete end-to-end automation.  

A survey by AP & P2P found that only 30% of invoices that respondents receive from their vendors are in a digital format, leaving 70% that require some degree of manual uploading prior to being processed. IDP drastically reduces the amount of tedious work accounts payable professionals have to engage in, and it can easily digitize and contextualize a lot of the data that RPA fundamentally can’t understand, enabling even more end-to-end automation. 

The top IDP benefits of accounts payable are:

Enhanced Productivity

How much time does your team spend manually reviewing invoices, even when you have an RPA or other automation system in place? Are there any busy seasons when this gets especially cumbersome? When IDP is implemented in your process, it can cut down the time-consuming mental work that goes into capturing, converting, sorting, responding to or routing data, and streamline it into a process that just takes a few clicks. This leaves your team with more time to focus on important or critical tasks.  

Increased Approval Speeds

Most payment delays don’t come from lack of funds — they result from labor constraints. Unfortunately, when invoice approvals get backed up, it can harm relationships with vendors. IDP removes a lot of the time and effort barriers that can lead to these delays, so it’s easier to make payments on time with less risk of human error. 

Insight Into Processes

How much time does it take to process each invoice? Unless you’re timing a worker with a stopwatch, you probably won’t know exactly how long the work takes outside of your RPA. With IDP implemented, more of your accounts payable processes are measured by machines, giving you insight into how long everything takes — as well as what you might change to smooth things out. IDP can complement your RPA and in turn save a lot of time by removing your manual processes, but when you streamline the work these systems need to do, you can reach new heights of efficiency.

Automation Hero: Truly intelligent IDP for accounts payable

Not all IDPs are created equal. Legacy systems rely on templates for accurate data labeling, which doesn’t work for companies that process many different invoice formats. Newer programs allegedly use artificial intelligence, but they’re incredibly expensive and labor-intensive to set up, and are limited to only a few IDP functions, such as OCR and extraction, or classification.  

Automation Hero is a new kind of automation platform, powered by deep learning AI, to build upon the capabilities of RPA and IDP with a single, end-to-end system. Free of templates, Automation Hero can read and contextualize any kind of data, and learn from users to quickly improve accuracy. Incredibly versatile and even multilingual, the platform can plug into your existing systems to streamline processes, or serve as an entire enterprise management dashboard. With a consumption-based pricing model, you only pay for the automations you use. 

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

Unlock the intelligence in your documents with our AI-driven automation today

Learn how we helped Markerstudy reduce its claims processing time by 40%. Additionally, learn how we reduced total claim processing time by 80% for another multinational insurance partner — cutting down manual tasks from 10 minutes to just two minutes per claim.


The LIBOR transition: Intelligent automation to the rescue

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