How to create intelligent invoice processing workflows with automated integrations

Jan 10, 2022 by Automation Hero

From built-in API compatibility to manual integrations, here’s how to improve automation efficiency between platforms

Invoice processing automation has been one of the biggest breakthroughs for accounts payable departments since the advent of computers. Digital approval workflows have reduced the amount of labor that goes into processing each invoice by cutting out steps like manual notifications, routing and identifying expensive errors. But as high-volume accounts payable teams already know, the work of processing invoices begins before a document is ever reviewed. 

The rise of intelligent data extraction

In the past, accounts payable departments only had to manage one channel for invoice traffic: their mailboxes. Invoices simply arrived in paper form, and AP employees piled them high on their desks.

Now there’s a dizzying array of channels for invoices to travel through. Email attachments are one of the most popular invoice submission methods for enterprises of every size, while larger organizations may require submissions through online forms or portals. Vendors regularly deploy file systems, like Dropbox, for submissions. 

AP departments struggle with two things in this environment: 

  1. Capturing invoices efficiently through all channels
  2. Accurately extracting data from different document formats

Intelligent document processing (IDP) solutions are a more recent class of automation capabilities that specialize in extracting data from complex documents like invoices and converting that data into a usable format. Optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities allow them to read and automatically convert text from PDFs, emails, images, and even handwritten content. This still leaves considerable work for AP departments to manually capture invoices.

Unlock potential with automated integrations

With all the success AP departments have had with approval automation and data extraction, initial capture is still time consuming. Using automation tools that integrate with an organization’s many invoice channels is key to maximizing productivity. At the minimum, they need to have the capacity to access invoices from every source, like email platforms, file systems, ERP platforms, and databases.

This allows the IDP to read emails, route communications, and download attached files for additional scanning and processing; or review recent uploads to a file system and download invoices for intake — effectively unifying the capture, extraction, and routing workflows. These types of simple automations can save busy departments hundreds of hours per year in processing time. 

Integrate smarter with Automation Hero

Automation Hero is one of the most comprehensive and versatile enterprise automation platforms on the market, including its integration capabilities. The service currently has 35 pre-built connectors to third-party applications, but the system can guide users to connect with virtually any standard communication interface, like a REST API, no IT support or advanced computer skills needed. 

In addition to the common applications that most enterprises use today, Automation Hero integrates with old legacy software that businesses wish they had upgraded a long time ago. This makes Automation Hero a favored platform for organizations that have been slow to adopt automation because disconnected solutions would involve such a massive overhaul of their processes. The Automation Hero platform can extract data from these old legacy systems so customers can move on to more modern software, or continue to work seamlessly with it. Automation Hero even supports complex security

Other automation platforms can struggle to find documents that have been forwarded between departments, often requiring users to manually save and submit documents as time consuming extra steps. But, data can’t hide from Automation Hero. Especially proficient with processing emails, the platform can extract invoices attachments from chains with multiple back-and-forths — without any loss of information or accuracy. Automation Hero can even handle Microsoft Outlook’s notoriously challenging EML file format.

Integrations have proven to be one of the final missing pieces for AP departments to fully automate their processes. However, most invoice capture, extraction, and approval workflow tools are separate from one another, creating an unnecessary layer of complexity and risk of technical errors. While Automation Hero can fold into AP’s existing software solutions and existing processes and fill in gaps where it’s needed, the true purpose of Automation Hero is to serve as a complete, end-to-end enterprise automation platform that’s capable of fully unifying and automating the entire invoice processing workflow

Ready to streamline your accounts payable department? Learn how Automation Hero can help in our new eBook.  


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